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Sniper Charles Whitman with University Tower

Biographical Notes

  Charles Whitman was born on 24 June 1941 in Lake Worth, Florida.

  Is taught to handle guns at an early age. A photograph taken of Charlie at age 2 shows him holding two rifles: a bolt action and a pump.

  Life relatively uneventful and typically All American in its tedious attempts to find authenticity in a spiritually bankrupt society. This is exemplified by the biographical litany of Eagle Scout, high GPA's, Marines, storybook marriage, etc., etc..

  Suffers from severe headaches and the facade begins to crack...

July 31, 1966
6:45 p.m.

  I don't quite understand what it is that compels me to type this letter. Perhaps it is to leave some vague reason for the actions I have recently performed. I don't really understand myself these days. I am supposed to be an average reasonable and intelligent young man. However, lately (I can't recall when it started) I have been a victim of many unusual and irrational thoughts. These thoughts constantly recur and it requires a tremendous mental effort to concentrate on useful and progressive tasks. In March when my parents made a physical break I noticed a great deal of stress. I consulted a Dr. Cochrum at the University Health Center and asked him to recommend someone that I could consult with about some psychiatric disorders I felt I had. I talked with a Doctor once for about two hours and tried to convey to him my fears that I felt come overwhelming violent impulses. After one session I never saw the Doctor again, and since then I have been fighting my mental turmoil alone, and seemingly to no avail. After my death I wish that an autopsy would be performed on me to see if there is any visible physical disorder. I have had some tremendous headaches in the past and have consumed two large bottles of Excedrin in the past three months.

  It was after much thought that I decided to kill my wife, Kathy, tonight after I pick her up from work at the telephone company. I love her dearly, and she has been as fine a wife to me as any man could ever hope to have. I cannot rationally pinpoint any specific reason for doing this. I don't know whether it is selfishness, or if I don't want her to have to face the embarrassment my actions would surely cause her. At this time, though, the prominent reason in my mind is that I truly do not consider this world worth living in, and am prepared to die, and I do not want to leave her to suffer alone in it. I intend to kill her as painlessly as possible.

  Similar reasons provoked me to take my mother's life also. I don't think the poor woman has ever enjoyed life as she is entitled to. She was a simple young woman who married a very possessive and dominating man. All my life as a boy until I ran away from home to join the Marine Corps

[Whitman stopped typing at this point, apparently interrupted by the visit of two friends, who later recalled a "very normal" conversation with Charlie. The note resumes in his handwriting.]

3:00 A.M.
Both Dead

  I was a witness to her being beaten at least one a month. Then when she took enough my father wanted to fight to keep her below her usual standard of living.

  I imagine it appears that I bruttaly [sic] kill [sic] both of my loved ones. I was only trying to do a quick thorough job.

  If my life insurance policy is valid, please see that all the worthless checks I wrote this weekend are made good. Please pay off my debts. I am 25 years old and have been financially independent.

  Donate the rest anonymously to a mental health foundation. Maybe research can prevent further tragedies of this type.

Charles J. Whitman

- From the note left by Whitman next to his wife's body

  Just after 12:00 a.m. on 1 August 1966, Whitman killed his mother, most likely by strangling her from behind with a rubber hose. He later bashed in the back of her head and hit her left hand so hard that the diamond from her engagement ring popped out. He left a note on the body.

  A few minutes before 3:00 a.m., Whitman killed his wife, Kathy, as she slept by stabbing her five times in the chest with a hunting knife.

  After writing a few more notes, Whitman placed the following items in a green footlocker:

    Charles Whitman's Tower Equipment, as photographed by the Police

  • Channel Master 14 Transistor AM/FM Radio

  • Robinson Reminder Note Book (blank)

  • white 3 1/2 gallon water jug (full)

  • red 3 1/2 gallon plastic gas jug (full)

  • sales slip from Davis Hardware dated 1 August 1966

  • four "C" cell flashlight batteries

  • several lengths of cotton and nylon ropes

  • plastic Wonda-scope compass

  • papermate black ball-point pen

  • one Gun Tector, green rifle scabbard

  • hatchet

  • Nesco machete with green scabbard

  • Hercules hammer

  • green ammunition box with gun cleaning equipment

  • Gene brand alarm clock

  • cigarette lighter

  • canteen with water

  • binoculars

  • green Sears rifle scabbard

  • Camallus hunting knife with brown scabbard and whet stone

  • large Randall knife with bone handle with the name Charles J. Whitman on the blade with brown scabbard and whet stone

  • large pocket knife with lock blade

  • 10-inch pipe wrench

  • eye glasses with brown case

  • box of kitchen matches

  • 12 assorted cans of food and a jar of honey

  • two cans of Sego

  • can of charcoal starter

  • white and green 6-volt flashlight

  • set of ear plugs

  • two rolls of white adhesive tape

  • solid steel bar (1 ft. long)

  • Army green rubber duffel bag

  • green extension cord

  • lengths of clothes line wire and yellow electric wire

  • grey gloves

  • deer bag

  • bread, sweet rolls, Spam, Planters Peanuts, sandwiches, a box of raisins

  • plastic bottle of Mennen spray deodorant

  • toilet paper

[Note that there is a disturbing absence of Excedrin.]

  In addition, Charlie packed/bought a .357 Magnum Smith & Wesson revolver, a Galesi-Brescia pistol, a .35 Remington, an sawed-off Sears 12-gauge shotgun, a 6mm Remington bolt-action rifle with a 4-power Leupold scope, and a .30 caliber M-1 Carbine. He also had over 700 rounds of ammunition.

  On 1 August 1966, around 11:30 a.m., he entered the University of Texas Tower. Once in the elevator, he asked for help from an attendant, who informed him how to turn it on. "Thank you, ma'am," Whitman said. "You don't know how happy that makes me."

  Once on the 28th floor, he killed the receptionist by hitting her in the back of the head with the butt of his rifle. A couple coming down from the observation deck were mysteriously allowed to pass by Whitman unharmed.

  Two other couples were shot at point blank range with the sawed-off shotgun as they climbed up the stairwell.

  Whitman then went out onto the observation deck. The time was 11:48. It has often been pointed out that if he hadn't been delayed by the receptionist, he would have started shooting during peak period of classes changing. The death toll would have been substantially higher. As it was, Whitman lasted for 96 minutes. He killed 16 people, wounded 30.

  Houston McCoy, with the help of other officers, gained entrance to the observation deck and shot Whitman twice in the head with 12 gauge loaded with 00 buckshot. As Whitman's body jerked in death spasms, Officer Ramiro Martinez took the shotgun and fired at Whitman's upper arm, nearly blowing it off. The time was 1:24 p.m...

Charles Whitman's grave.
Hillcrest Memorial Park,
Cloud Lake (Palm Beach County), Florida

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