Sunday, August 14, 2011


AUSTIN, TEXAS Monday, August 1st, 1966 began like any other summer day in Austin with expected day time high temperatures rising to the uppers 90's to near 100 degrees. At 906 Jewel Street a 24-year-old man has already killed his wife while she slept and earlier that morning he murdered his Mother.
The Sniper
Charles Whitman

(University of Texas)
Both people the young man confessed that he loved in a letter that he meticulous typed on his typewriter address to the authorities who would find their bodies.

The letter read:

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 his letter here and later continue by handwriting the following words:
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

The above letter was found lying next to Kathy Whitman's body by the Austin Police department. She had been stabbed five times in her chest with a hunting knife while she slept.

At 11:25 AM, Whitman drove to the ground floor entrance of the Tower. He told a security guard that he needed to unload equipment at the Experimental Science Building, and obtained a parking permit.

At 11:30 AM - Charles Joseph Whitman towed a green military footlocker on a rented dolly up to the elevator doors of the UT Tower elevators. It was labeled, "Lance Cpl. C. J. Whitman and it contained the following items, (From inventory report by Officer Ligon):
    • A 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)
    • A 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
    • 1 Gun Tector, green rifle scabbard
    • 1 hatchet
    • Nesco machete with green scabbard
    • 1 Hercules hammer
    • Green ammunition box with gun cleaning equipment
    • Gene brand alarm clock
    • Cigarette lighter
    • A 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
    • 1 box of kitchen matches
    • 12 assorted cans of food and 2 cans of Sego
    •  a jar of honey
    • 1 can of charcoal starter
    • 1 - white and green 6-volt flashlight
    • A set of ear plugs
    • 2 rolls of white adhesive tape
    • A 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
    • 1 Plastic bottle of Mennen spray deodorant
    • 1 Roll of Toilet paper 
Found lying around Whitman's body: A .357 Magnum Smith & Wesson revolver, a Galesi-Brescia pistol, a .35 Remington, a Sears 12-gauge shotgun which he sawed-off, 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. (Later Police found three rifles and two derringers at his home that Charles decided not to carry with him that morning).

It's been reported that when Whitman got to the elevator door he couldn't figure out how to start it. He asked an attendant what he was doing wrong. She told him how to turn it on. "Thank you, ma'am," Whitman said. "You don't know how happy that makes me."

He took the elevator to the 27th floor and then dragged the heavy footlocker with the rented dolly one flight of stairs to the 28th floor where he killed 51 year old Edna Townsley, the floor receptionist with the butt of a gun to the back of her head. Whitman then dragged her body behind a couch in order to hide it.  Soon a couple coming down from the observation deck was without explanation allowed to pass by Whitman unharmed. When the Gabour and Lamport families arrived to the 28th floor from the stairwell, he shot them with the sawed-off shotgun, wounding two and killing Marguerite Lamport and her nephew, Mark Gabour.

When Whitman walked onto the observation deck it was 11:45 AM. Where he had a clear view of the campus and the neighboring community including Guadalupe Street known as the "Drag". He began shooting from the top of the tower.

The sniper began picking off pedestrian targets. The Austin Police department got it's first call at 11:52 AM that shots where being fired on the campus from the Tower. Whitman was walking around and shooting from all four sides of the tower with such speed that first reports included more than one gunman.

Whitman's killing spree from the tower lasted 96 minutes. He killed 16 people, wounded 30. It could have lasted a lot longer with more devastating results if not for Austin Police Officers: Jerry Day, Houston McCoy, and Ramiro Martinez, Department of Public Safety Officer W.A. Cowan, and civilian Allen Crum.    

  1. Margaret Whitman 
  2. Kathy Whitman
  3. Edna Townsley
  4. Marguerite Lamport
  5. Mark Gabour
  6. Paul Sonntag
  7. Claudia Rutt
  8. Robert H. Boyer
  9. Officer Billy Speed
  10. Roy Dell Schmidt
  11. Thomas Eckman
  12. Unborn Child of Claire Wilson
  13. Harry Walchuck
  14. Thomas Ashton
  15. Thomas Karr
  16. Karen Griffith 
What caused the behavior of Charles Whitman to want to go to the Tower and start killing people?  It may never be known for certain why he decided that August 1, 1966 would be the day he would become a sniper and kill 16 innocent people. Research has shown he had visited the Tower twice before in 1966, once on April 5th with a friend and then again on July 22nd with family members.
An autopsy was preformed on Whitman's body, August 2nd at 8:55 AM at the Cook Funeral Home. They found a small brain tumor located in the white matter above the brain stem. Could this be why Charles Whitman needed to constantly take Excedrin to relieve his pain from tremendous headaches? 

While in the Marines Whitman was hospitalized for fours days due to a jeep accident in which he went over an embankment. According to witnesses, Whitman, although groggy, lifted the jeep from his pinned companion, then collapsed and was unconscious for several hours. Could this have led to the tumor that grew within his brain? 
The official results of a Report to the Governor of Texas dated September 8th, 1966 stated the following: 

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