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Woman Who Participated In 1950s Killing Spree Chronicled By Bruce Springsteen Asks For Pardon
Caril Ann Clair, along with notorious serial killer Charles Starkweather, embarked on a killing spree more than 60 years ago that claimed several members of the woman’s family.
An elderly Nebraska prisoner who, as a teenager, accompanied her boyfriend on a notorious killing spree more than six decades ago is now seeking a pardon.
Caril Ann Fugate, along with her 19-year-old boyfriend Charles Starkweather, killed nearly a dozen people, including the woman’s mother, stepfather, and infant half-sister, over the course of 1957 and 1958, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
Caril Ann Fugate — who now goes by Caril Ann Clair, according to the Washington Post — is requesting a full pardon for her role in the slayings more than 60 years later, claiming she was an unwilling conspirator in the crime.
“The idea that posterity has been made to believe that I knew about and/or witnessed the death of my beloved family and left with Starkweather willingly on a murder spree is too much for me to bear anymore,” the 76-year-old woman wrote in an application. “Receiving a pardon may somehow alleviate this terrible burden.”
Clair, who was in eighth grade at the time, was convicted of first-degree murder, according to the Washington Post. Her boyfriend, Starkweather, was later put to death by electric chair for his role in the series of grisly murders.
“When I was 14 years old, I was abducted and held captive by Charlie Starkweather,” Clair wrote in her pardon application. “I was terrified and did whatever he wanted me to.”
The Nebraska woman insisted that Starkweather “frightened [her] to death” and that she was coerced into participating out of fear of her family’s safety.
“[H]e told me his gang had my family held hostage and they would be murdered if I didn’t do what he said,” Clair added, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
Clair’s attorney John S. Berry also argued that his client was a child victim in the case.
“There are people in Nebraska, the ones who remember this — they can’t quote Chief Standing Bear or Willa Cather,” Berry said, the Post reported. “But by God they can quote Charles Starkweather, when he said, ‘She should be sitting on my lap [in the electric chair].'”
Oxgyen.com wasn’t immediately able to reach Berry on Friday.
The murderous rampage was immortalized by the iconic Bruce Springsteen song “Nebraska,” which alludes to the flurry of killings. The film “Badlands,” starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek, was also loosely based on the murders.
“Me and her went for a ride, sir, and 10 innocent people died,” Springsteen sings on the eerie track.
Clair first filed her application in 2017. The Nebraska Board of Pardons is schedule to hear her case on Feb. 18. It’s the second time she’s filed for such a pardon, the Post reported. She was previously denied in 1996.
A granddaughter of one of her victims, two of her stepsons, and a former Nebraska prison warden all wrote letters on her behalf, according to KOLN.