EXPIRED: 10/19/09 – Howard Unruh, 88, was a shy kid that was sent to war during World War II. Reportedly he was a brave soldier, operated a tank, served in the Battle of the Bulge, and kept meticulous notes of every German killed, down to details of the corpse. He was honorably discharged in 1945, and returned home with a collection of medals and firearms.
He came home to Camden, New Jersey and lived with his mother. She worked. He became a recluse.
Today they would call it post-traumatic stress disorder. Back then they called him weird.
He decorated his bedroom with military items, and set up a target range in his basement. He went to daily church services. He fought with neighbors, and was teased by the locals for being odd. He dated a girl but it went nowhere.
Unruh kept a diary detailing his thoughts about his neighbors. Next to some of the names was the word “retal.”, short for “retaliate.” One night he came home from a movie to discover that the gate he had just built in front of his house had been stolen.
That was the last straw.
The next morning he woke up, ate breakfast, put on a suit, took a gun and went out into the neighborhood.
With 14 bullets he killed 13 people in 12 minutes.
He was tried and eventually sent to the New Jersey Hospital for the Insane which is now the Trenton Psychiatric Hospital in maximum-security.
His last public words, made during an interview with a psychologist, were, “I’d have killed a thousand if I had bullets enough.”
He died, a loner, at the institution.