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TRUE CRIME BOOKS BLOG

FROM AUTHOR HARRY N. MACLEAN

STARKWEATHER --THE NAME

NAME THE KILLER. Charles Starkweather. Charlie.Starkweather. Chuck. How to name the man who wiped out eleven people without a twinge when writing the story of his life and rampage? The newspapers initially referred to him as Charles Starkweather, but often by the second or third sentence were referring to him as “Charlie.” In spite of the fact that it seemed to soften him somehow, like a good boy inexplicably gone bad, I began using it as well. I wonder why. Perhaps because it provided a sharp contrast to the killer’s last name, which hints of darkness, if not evil. Or perhaps simply to try to humanize someone who otherwise seemed inhuman.

Caril Fugate, Charlie’s 14-year-old companion, was almost always referred to in the press and reports simply as simply “Caril.” When she hit her late 20s, the papers began referring to her as “Miss Fugate,” although half way through the piece she would revert to “Caril.” To me, uncertain at the beginning about her complicity in the crimes, she was always Caril. Even when I finally met her


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