HOWARD UNRUH

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CAMDEN, NJ – America’s first mass killer, Howard Barton Unruh,  has died at the age of 88.
Howard Unruh is considered the first documented single-episode mass murderer in America’s history. On the morning of September 6, 1949, he shot and killed 13 people, including five men, five women and three children.
Police discovered a journal he had kept a year in advance, documenting his intended victims. Some of those he killed were from the list, others were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
A few were neighbors who he had suspected of plotting against him. “They had been making derogatory remarks about my character,” Unruh told detectives.
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A tailor on his list was not in his shop at the time, so Unruh killed his bride of just six weeks instead.
When police arrived, he fled to his apartment for a standoff. A Camden Evening Courier reporter called his home and spoke to him briefly before tear gas took him out:
“What are they doing to you?”
“They haven’t done anything to me yet, but I’m doing plenty to them.”
“How many have you killed?”
“I don’t know yet. I haven’t counted them. But it looks like a pretty good score.”
“Why are you killing people?”
“I don’t know. I can’t answer that yet. I’m too busy. I’ll have to talk to you later. A couple of friends are coming to get me.”
He used a German Luger pistol, a souvenier from his time as a tank gunner in World War II. He was considered a brave soldier, and had even served in the Battle of the Bulge, but was honorably discharged in 1945.
He was ultimately found to be criminall insane, due to paranoid schizophrenia, and never stood trial. He spent the rest of his life in a state psychiatric hospital.

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