LINCOLN, Neb. -- The memory of Charles Starkweather, a gangly red-haired teenager who killed 11 people in a notorious rampage 25 years ago, dies hard in Nebraska.
Locksmiths and gun dealers reported record trade at the time Starkweather spread terror through the countryside.
Children in at least one eastern Nebraska community played 'Charles Starkweather,' staging neighborhood manhunts in their own version of cops and robbers.
The rampage was the subject of the 1970s movie 'Badlands.'
It all started Dec. 1, 1957, in Lincoln when Starkweather shot and killed service station attendant Robert Colvert, 21, during a robbery.
Then, in an eight-day period beginning Jan. 21, 1958, Starkweather, accompanied by his 14-year-old girlfriend, Caril Ann Fugate of Lincoln, left a bloody trail of nine victims in Nebraska and one in Wyoming. They included Miss Fugate's mother, stepfather and stepsister.
Starkweather and Miss Fugate each were convicted of first-degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Bobby Jensen of Bennet. Starkweather died in Nebraska's electric chair in June 1959, the last execution in the state.
Miss Fugate was sentenced to life in prison. In 1973, her sentence was commuted to 30 to 50 years and three years later she was paroled to start a new life in a small Michigan town.
In Bennet, 16 miles southeast of Lincoln, memories linger of Bobby Jensen and two others who were among Starkweather's victims. The others were August Meyer, 70, a farmer who was a friend of Starkweather's father, and Jensen's 16-year-old sweetheart Carol King.
Mayor Ab Jensen has lived in or near Bennet all his life. He and his wife Ruth were reluctant to talk publicly about Starkweather for fear it would renew unwanted publicity.
August Meyer was first cousin of the mayor's mother. Bobby Jensen was related to the mayor's wife.
'Whenever you needed help, August was there,' Jensen said. He said Meyer kept his farm up better than many state parks at that time and took pride in his work, which included bringing neatly stacked firewood to Bennet by a horse-drawn cart.
'They were two kids you couldn't help but like,' Jensen said of Carol King and Bobby Jensen, whom neighbors described as All-American teenagers.
During the Starkweather spree, Bennet's 500 residents lived in fear.
'It wouldn't have been safe for anybody to be around,' Jensen said. 'We advised everybody to keep their houses locked and find out who's there before opening the door.'
'We just stayed put,' Mrs. Jensen said.
'This town at that time was very, very close,' Jensen said. 'But times have changed. It's just like every other little town. It's falling apart and we're doing our best to get it back together.'
The Starkweather story also wound its way around Nebraska Secretary of State Allen Beermann's life. He was attending college in a town about 50 miles from Lincoln during the spree. Fourteen years later he voted with a majority of the state Pardons Board to commute Miss Fugate's sentence at the women's prison in York.
'She had spent half of her life in the institution,' Beermann said. 'Her progress, her rehabilitation, all of those things were very much to her credit.'