Granddaughter of Starkweather victims supports Caril Fugate's pardon request

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Liza Ward first learned about the murder of her grandparents when she was five years old.

Caril Fugate

"We had a grandparent's day at school and I asked where my grandparents were and they had to tell me a bad man had killed them," Ward said.

Ward's grandparents are C. Lauer Ward and Clara Ward, two of serial-killer Charles Starkweather's 11 victims.

Starkweather, accompanied by 14-year-old Caril Fugate, went on an eight-day killing spree across Nebraska and Wyoming in 1958 before they were arrested.

Both were convicted of murder. Starkweather put to death, and Fugate sentenced to life in prison. She was paroled after 18 years, when she was 32.

Fugate, now 76 and living in Michigan, is asking for her name to be cleared.

Ward is supporting this cause.

She and attorney John Berry Sr. will go before Nebraska's Parole Board Tuesday afternoon and make the case.

"I'm here for justice," Berry said. "I think we all have to be honest about the fact that today, Caril would not go to trial at all, she would be treated as a victim witness."

Berry said Fugate was innocent. That she believed Starkweather was holding her family hostage, and if she didn't comply they'd be killed.

He said she didn't know Starkweather had already killed them.

Ward, who became interested in the facts of the case once she got into college, said she's studied the facts of the murders for decades, read every transcript, visited every murder site and can't find a piece of evidence proving Fugate was guilty.

"She was a victim of a system, an old boys network fueled by anger, pain and the grief of the time," Ward said. 'There was so much fear that people couldn't look at the situation objectively."

Ward, who is here with the support of her father, who was just 14 when his parents were killed, said it's time to show that young girl's stories are worth being listened to.

"My grandparents, as much as I know about them, were people of faith and integrity and grace and they would have wanted the truth to be known, and this is the truth," Ward said. "This is the truth, Caril Fugate was not guilty."

Fugate will not be attending Tuesday's hearing.

Berry Sr. said he has spoken to Fugate within the last few days and she is excited and hopeful to have her name cleared.