‘Natural Born Killer’ Was Captured In Wyoming 61 Years Ago Today
Charles Starkweather was one of the most infamous murderers in American history. His two-month rampage terrified the country and later inspired the movie Natural Born Killers. Thanks to a friendly stranger on a desolate highway in Wyoming, his reign of terror finally ended just outside of Douglas 61 years ago today, on January 29, 1958.
The killing spree began on Dec. 1, 1957, when Starkweather murdered a gas station attendant in Lancaster County, Nebraska. He would eventually claim ten more victims, including the family of his girlfriend, Caril Fugate.
After hiding out in Nebraska for several weeks, the couple fled. Fearing that their stolen car would attract attention, Starkweather carjacked and killed a traveling salesman on the side of U.S. Route 26 between Douglas and Glenrock.
As Starkweather was moving the salesman's body, another driver stopped to offer help. When Starkweather pulled his gun, the driver overpowered him and wrestled it away. During the struggle, a Natrona County Deputy Sheriff pulled up and Starkweather jumped back in his stolen car.
The chase continued into the Douglas city limits, where Starkweather plowed through a roadblock, dodging bullets while speeding through downtown at over 100 miles per hour. Finally, after a shot shattered his window and he ran out of ammunition, America's most wanted fugitive pulled over just east of town and surrendered to authorities.
Two days later, Starkweather was transported from the Converse County Jail back to Nebraska, where he was convicted of murder and sentenced to death.
Fugate told police that she had been kidnapped by Starkweather and insisted that she wasn't complicit in the killings. Her controversial trial resulted in a conviction and she was sentenced to life in prison. After serving 18 years in Nebraska Correctional Center for Women, she was granted parole and released in 1976.
Along with Natural Born Killers, several other movies have been based on the story, including The Sadist, Badlands, Kalifornia, Murder In The Heartland and Stark Raving Mad.