The Innocence of Caril Fugate in the Starkweather Murder Rampage
Linda M. Battisti, John Stevens Berry, Sr.
The Caril Fugate Story that’s Never Been Told
In 1958, nineteen-year-old Charles Starkweather gained notoriety as one of the nation’s first spree killers. He murdered eleven people in Nebraska and Wyoming. After a week on the run, he was arrested, later convicted, and sentenced to die in the electric chair.
Starkweather’s girlfriend, Caril Fugate, fourteen, was with him throughout the murder spree. Was she his hostage or a willing participant in the murders that included her parents and three-year-old sister? This question still stirs debate more than fifty years later. Fugate claims she was too terrified to attempt escape—Starkweather had told her he would make a phone call and have her family killed if she disobeyed him. Unbeknownst to her, he had already murdered her family.
A jury found her guilty of being an accessory to first degree murder. She was sentenced to life in prison; however, in 1976 she was paroled.
Now, in The Twelfth Victim, attorneys Linda M. Battisti and John S. Berry, Sr. pull together years of research to tell how Fugate was a victim of both Charles Starkweather and the Nebraska justice system. Their book tells how the teenager was grilled by prosecuting attorneys for hours before ever being told she had a right to an attorney.
The book details how Starkweather, who gave nine versions of how the murders occurred and had already been sentenced to death, became the chief witness against Caril at her trial. The authors also expose how Starkweather was coached for days by prosecutors on how to testify at Fugate’s trial—including not telling the jury that he had planned to kill Caril on three separate occasions. It is a shocking story that has never been told.
The True Story of How a Fourteen-Year-Old Nebraska Girl
Was Denied Justice in a Murder Case that Stunned the Nation
16 pages of photos!
A compelling cultural essay… a sort of penance for our acceptance of a crude, flawed, and even corrupt legal system that meted out a barbaric version of justice to Caril Fugate back in those golden years.—Gary Gablehouse, Author of The Third Temple
In this riveting book, Battisti and Berry re-examine the evidence, interview those involved, and apply new and dispassionate logic, with surprising conclusions. Rarely has a legal tangle been so masterfully told.—Roger Welsh, Author of My Nebraska
The Twelfth Victim shines a light on the dark rumors that enshroud the Caril Fugate story—was she Starkweather’s accomplice or his hostage? Authors, Berry and Battisti, deliver the perfect one-two punch to clarify the scandalous gossip and hearsay that has so plagued this story for decades.—Jeff McArthur, Author of Pro Bono – The 18-Year Defense of Caril Ann Fugate
The good news is that The Twelfth Victim is a work of diligent investigation. If you are curious about the facts of the murder spree and the subsequent two trials, this book will satisfy that curiosity. The authors have poured over the investigative reports, the pre-trial documents, and the trial transcripts and exhibits—and they present those materials in a coherent and compelling fashion.—Michael A. Kahn, The Common Reader
Ames Reading Series in Lincoln, Nebraska, featuring the authors of The Twelfth Victim.
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