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1940s / Howard Unruh - Camden NJ Mass Murderer
On Tuesday, September 6, 1949, 28-year-old Howard Unruh shot and killed 13 people in Camden, NJ in a space of just 12 minutes. Three other victims suffered non-fatal wounds. The calm demeanor Unruh showed during shootings came to be known as "Camden's Walk of Death." Unruh, a decorated Second World War combat veteran, was a closet homosexual who believed he was the target of malicious gossip. The previous evening a date had failed to meet him at a local movie theater for a late-night screening. An angry Unruh stayed to watch the movie by himself and arrived home at about 3 a.m. to find that a fence he had erected between his house and his neighbor's adjacent lot to resolve a property dispute had been taken down, further aggravating him. Later that morning, Unruh suddenly snapped at his mother (whom he lived with) during breakfast. He chased her out of the house. At 9:20 a.m. Unruh proceeded on his murderous rampage through nearby businesses on River Road. With deadly accuracy, Unruh shot customers and proprietors randomly at a barber shop, a tailor shop, a shoe-repair shop and a pharmacy. Some luckless bystanders were gunned down in their cars while stopped at intersections. The youngest of Unruh's victims was just two years old. The toddler was killed as he looked out of an apartment window. When Unruh ran out of ammunition, he made his way back home and awaited his fate. Incredibly he spoke calmly, politely and amicably on the telephone to a local newspaper reporter while he awaited arrest. Unruh was shot in the leg by an armed citizen during his rampage but seemed oblivious to his wound. He was judged to be insane and thus not fit to stand trial under New Jersey law. He was held in a mental institution for more than 60 years before dying in 2009 at the age of 88. Hardly remorseful, in his last known interview Unruh said he would have happily killed thousands of people had he had the opportunity.