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Woman convicted of infamous murder spree as a teen critically injured in car crash

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FILE - Charles Starkweather and Caril Fugate are shown in a photo released by police in 1958 when the teenagers were wanted for questioning in a killing spree that eventually claimed 11 lives in Nebraska and Wyoming. (AP)

A woman who was one of two teenage participants in a killing spree that left 11 people dead 55 years ago and became the basis of the movie "Badlands" starring Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen has been critically injured in a crash, western Michigan authorities said Tuesday.

Caril Ann Clair, 70, of Stryker, Ohio, was critically hurt and her 81-year-old husband killed late Monday in a single-vehicle crash on northbound Interstate 69 in Calhoun County, the sheriff's department said. It said Frederick. A. Clair was at the wheel of the SUV when it went off the road and overturned.

Caril Clair was taken to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo. The hospital said it couldn't provide information on her Tuesday night.

As a 14-year-old, then-Caril Fugate and her 19-year-old boyfriend, Charlie Starkweather, went on a killing spree in Nebraska and Wyoming in 1957-58 that claimed the lives of Fugate's mother, stepfather, 2-year-old sister and eight others. Starkweather was executed, while Fugate left prison in 1976.

The killings began in late 1957 with the death of 21-year-old gas station attendant Robert Colvert, who was robbed, abducted and shot to death. His body was left on a Nebraska country road.

Two months later, Lincoln, Neb.-area authorities found the bodies of Marion Bartlett, 57; and his 35-year-old wife, Velda, in an outbuilding. Their 2-year-old daughter, Betty Jean, had been clubbed to death with the butt of a gun and her body stuffed in a cardboard box. Missing were Velda Bartlett's 14-year-old daughter by a previous marriage, Caril Fugate, and her boyfriend, Starkweather.

A fictionalized account of the killing spree was told in "Badlands," released in 1973. Bruce Springsteen sang about Starkweather and Miss Fugate on his "Nebraska" album.

Cleveland attorney Linda Battisti told the Battle Creek Enquirer that she has known Caril Clair for years and called her "resilient, courageous and a brave woman. I have always said I have been humbled in her presence. She is incredibly funny and very loving and very giving."

Battisti said Tuesday that she had just learned of the accident and, "I am just devastated about this." She said she has studied the case against her friend and believes she was innocent of the crimes.

"What a horrible miscarriage of justice that has been done to her. I have always believed in her," Battisti said.

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