Monday, October 19, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: Mass-murderer Howard Unruh is dead

UPDATE 10/20/09: Sources say Unruh's body has been claimed by an unidentified niece. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

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Howard Unruh, who has been called (somewhat errantly) "the father of mass murder," has died in the New Jersey mental hospital where he has lived since gunning down 13 people in Camden, N.J., in 1949. He was 88 and spent more than 60 years in the asylum.

He was not, in fact, America's first mass murderer, nor even the first one to snap, pick up a gun and start killing people. He was, however, a rarity, in that he didn't commit suicide after his rampage.

Charles Cohen, a 12-year-old boy whose parents and grandmother were slaughtered in Unruh's angry, 12-minute spree, became the most outspoken survivor of the so-called "walk of death." When Unurh was seeking less restrictive accommodations in the hospital, Cohen campaigned to keep him under the strictest control. He kept artifacts of the killings in an old suitcase and yearned for the day the seriously psychotic Unruh would be dead, so he could bury the suitcase -- and his memory. Alas, Cohen himself died at age 72 less than two months ago and was buried on the 60th anniversary of the shooting.

Ironically, Unruh was a WWII veteran who might now be eligible for a burial with full military rites. No services have yet been announced.

The story of Howard Unruh's rampage and Charles Cohen's extraordinary survival will be part of a 2010 book by Ron Franscell about survivors of mass killers.

2 comments:

Jill said...

I still don't know what to think about the military honors...

eddiethekid said...

Howard Unruh was one of the most
fascinating characters I've ever
heard about. As America's first
lone-gunman mass murderer, who
killed 13 people, on September 6,
1949, he established a precedent
that has probably been relied upon
by other mass murderers. They were
able to see, if they knew of him,
what he was able to accomplish -
getting most of his targeted victims as well as a few bystanders, he shocked society, but
made it aware of PTSD, and then
spent 60 years in mental hospitals,
dying just a few days ago, October
19, 2009. I think that's the one
thing he didn't plan on, and I think if he could do it all over
again, he would have saved one bullet for his own head. Rest in
peace, old Howie, you'll always be
my favorite mass murderer.