Caril Ann Clair, 70, of Stryker, Ohio, was critically hurt and her 81-year-old husband killed late Monday in a crash in Michigan. As a 14-year-old, Clair, who was then Fugate, and her boyfriend, Charlie Starkweather, 19, went on a killing spree in Nebraska and Wyoming. The couple’s rampage, which left 11 people dead, was made into the film ‘Badlands’ starring Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen
A woman convicted of going on a killing spree with her boyfriend 55 years ago that left 11 people dead and whose story inspired the hit 1973 film ‘Badlands’ has been badly injured in a car crash in Michigan.
Caril Ann Clair, 70, of Stryker, Ohio, is in critical condition after the single-vehicle crash on Monday night that killed her 81-year-old husband, Frederick Clair, on northbound Interstate 69 in Calhoun County.
Over a month in late 1957 and 1958, when Clair, then named Fugate, was just 14, she and her 19-year-old boyfriend, Charlie Starkweather, terrorized Nebraska and Wyoming, killing Fugate’s mother, stepfather, two-year-old sister and eight others.
Fugate, who has maintained her innocence, was convicted and spent 18 years in prison before her release in 1976. Starkweather was executed in 1958.
The horrific rampage became the basis of the film ‘Badlands’ starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek. In 1975, Spacek was nominated Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles at the BAFTA awards.
The film follows Kit Carruthers, a young garbage collector, played by Sheen, and his girlfriend Holly Sargis, played by Spacek, from Fort Dupree, South Dakota, who are on run after killing Holly’s father because he disagreed with their relationship.
On their way towards the Badlands of Montana they leave a trail of dispassionate and seemingly random murders. The film received rave reviews at film festivals including The New York Film Festival.
Bruce Springsteen also sang about Starkweather and Miss Fugate on his ‘Nebraska’ album.
Fugate always maintained she was innocent but a jury found her guilty in the robbery and murder of a 17-year-old boy.
She was sentenced to life in prison and served 18 years before her sentence was commuted after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled mandatory life sentences for juveniles were unconstitutional.
Fugate left prison in 1976 while Starkweather was executed.
The killings began in late 1957 with the death of 21-year-old gas station attendant Robert Colvert, who was robbed, abducted and shot to death. His body was left on a Nebraska country road.
Two months later, Lincoln, Nebraska-area authorities found the bodies of Marion Bartlett, 57; and his 35-year-old wife, Velda, in an outbuilding.
Their two-year-old daughter, Betty Jean, had been clubbed to death with the butt of a gun and her body stuffed in a cardboard box.
Missing were Velda Bartlett’s 14-year-old daughter by a previous marriage, Caril Fugate, and her boyfriend, Starkweather.
After leaving prison in 1976, Fugate went to live in Michigan with a family who befriended her after watching a television documentary, according to The Battle Creek Enquirer.
She worked in a hospital in Lansing for 20 years, before marrying Clair at age 63. She has been living in Ohio.
According to Cleveland attorney Linda Battisti, Fugate met her husband at a casino while she was working in Lansing.
The couple may have been traveling to the FireKeepers Casino near Battle Creek when they crashed, sheriff deputies said.
Clair was retired and at one point owned a grocery store and ran a radio station.
Battisti told the Battle Creek Enquirer that she has known Caril Clair for years and called her ‘resilient, courageous and a brave woman. I have always said I have been humbled in her presence. She is incredibly funny and very loving and very giving.’
Battisti said on Tuesday that she had just learned of the accident and, ‘I am just devastated about this.’
She said she has studied the case against her friend and believes she was innocent of the crimes.
'What a horrible miscarriage of justice that has been done to her. I have always believed in her,' Battisti said.
Starkweather was killed by electric chair in 1959. Members of his outraged family said Fugate should have also been sentenced to death because she was just as guilty.
Battisti said her friend had been approached numerous times over the years with book deals but she was waiting for the right person to come along, which turned out to be her.
'She told me that many people approached her and wanted to write a book about her. But she told me she knew God would send her the right person and that was me. We have developed a close friendship and my quest for many years is to show her innocence.'
Her book ‘The 12th Victim’ is in final editing stages and is co-authored by Lincoln attorney John Stevens Berry, the Enquirer reported.
(Source: Daily Mail)