Kathy with Charlie and Margaret

Charles Whitman (center) with his mother, Margaret (left) and his wife, Kathy (right), on 26 November 1963, the date of his special court martial. (Photo courtesy of Nelson Leissner)




On August 1, 1966, the world heard Charles Whitman‘s gunshots as he shot and killed people he didn’t know from the top of the tower at UT Austin. It was the first mass shooting captured on television in the heart of a college campus and in full view of the Texas state capitol dome.

But before his public rampage, Whitman killed two women–family members–in the privacy of their own homes: his mother, Margaret, and his wife, Kathleen (“Kathy”). Kathy was 23 years old, a recent graduate of UT Austin, and a science teacher who had just completed her first year at Sidney Lanier High School.

For the first time in five decades, Kathy’s voice is now part of the historical record. My article, “Listening to Kathy,” includes exclusive primary documents and photographs never seen before. You can read and share the story at Catapult Magazine.

I would like to acknowledge Kathy’s friends and family, especially her brother, Nelson, for their trust and assistance. This story is a testament to their love for a young woman whose life and future was stolen from her in the most brutal way imaginable.

A big thank you also goes to my editors at Catapult, Mensah Demary and Yuka Igarashi, for recognizing that Kathy’s life should not be forgotten.

jo scott-coe1

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