CARIL by Ninette; B.K. Ripley & Patrick Trese Beaver


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In 1958 a 19-year-old named Charles Starkweather and his 14-year-old girlfriend, Caril Fugate, went on a murder spree in which ten people died. In recent months a movie (Badlands) and a novel (Not Comin' Home To You) have presented fictionalized treatments of the rampage. One of the authors of the present work, Ninette Beaver, was part of the TV crew in Omaha which first broke the story to the public; she remained in close touch with Caril through the years in prison and this meticulous reportage benefits from Beaver's sympathetic, not mawkish, perspective. On the basis of Starkweather's several conflicting confessions Caril, despite her age, was sentenced to life--the betting at the time was that she too would be executed. Throughout she maintained that she was innocent--a terrified, unwilling accomplice. In prison Caril is shown as a miserable, confused child and later as the very model of a model prisoner--completing a high school degree and, when she became a trustee, becoming deeply immersed in church work. Though she cooperated with the authors on the book, she was unwilling to talk about the actual murders unless given ""truth serum."" Perhaps because Caril has been so very good, we are left with an imperfectly focused and somewhat unsatisfying picture of her. The authors present the legal arguments in the case deftly, but essentially play it for the human interest value which is considerable despite Caril's inaccessibility. The evidence for ""rehabilitation"" is overwhelming and her continued confinement seems gratuitously vindictive. You're left hoping she will get parole in 1976--but with many questions still unanswered.

Pub Date: Sept. 16th, 1974
Publisher: Lippincott