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.



One response to “RIP – HOWARD UNRUH

  1. On September 6, 1949, Howard Unruh walked out his house early in the morning, the day after labor day, and
    proceeded to kill 13 people and wound 3. It is considered
    to be the 1st of the lone-gunman mass murders in America.
    Now they’re quite commonplace. Back when old Howie
    did it, it had never been done before. He was born in
    1921 served in the army in World War 11, where he saw
    quite a bit of combat, which probably caused him to come
    home with PTSD, which wasn’t really understood then, and
    was referred to as battle fatigue. However, old Howie also
    was afflicted, almost certainly, with paranoid schizophrenia.
    He was a loner and didn’t do what most other young men
    did. He didn’t drink, smoke, or go out with girls, but rather
    was a devoted son to his mother, with whom he lived,
    a devoted bible student and religious man, and he had
    set up a shooting range in the basement of his home, where he practiced with his .38 luger pistol, which he
    took off a dead German soldier. Howie used to walk down
    the street, looking straight ahead, with a bible in hand,
    and the pants of his suit tucked into his combat boots –
    a most unusual sight. He really just wanted to be left alone, but he was convinced his neighbors were disrespecting him, by talking about him behind his back,
    and saying things like he was weird, and that is, I believe,
    what set him off. The combination of his PTSD and
    paranoid shizophrenia and his belief that his neighbors and
    others in town were disrespecting him made Howard prepare a hit list of his enemies, which included the
    cobbler, the barber, the tailor, and the druggist and his
    whole family, who were his next door neighbors and his
    most hated enemies, and then on the morning of Sep. 6,
    1949, he went out with his trusted .38 luger and shot
    16 people, 13 of whom died. He got most, but not all, of
    his tarteted victims, a few innocent bystanders, and then
    retreated to his home, was coaxed out by the police, then
    sent to the Trenton Psychiatiric hospital, after having been
    judged insane and avoiding trial, and spent the next 60
    years there, until he died just recently on Oct 19, 2009.
    Old Howie was one of a kind. There’ll never be another
    like him. As the 1st of the lone-gunman masss murderers,
    he has outlived just about all the others who came after
    him. Most of them either committed suicide or got killed
    by the police. Just a few are currently incarcerated, and
    none of them anywhere near 60 years. Old Howie, I miss
    you. You were truly unique, and I’ve said it before and
    I’ll say it again, “Howard Unruh is my all-time favorite mass

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