I was steered to you by Nancy Bailey of the Foundation. 2004-2005 will be my 13th year teaching at Crawford. As I'm sure you know, the school has divided into 4 small schools and I'm in IDEA. Part of our space has a large planter just east of the 800 building. In it are two memorial plaques and my Advisory class decided to investigate who those students were.
One was a 15 year old who drowned in Chollas Lake and he was in my history class. So I know that story but we have had a difficult time finding out about the other for Marcia Degen who died in 1963. I've now talked to Nancy and another former teacher from her class, Mary Craven. Both have bits and pieces of what they remember but I'm hearing conflicting info from them. Nancy is almost certain James Jungblut, Class of 1960, murdered Marcia, Class of 1963.
I would love to talk and see if you can direct me to anyone else who might know more. If I knew the time of year or month, I could try to find an old newspaper article.
Of course, I'm now on break and have a little free time. I also want my students doing the investigating but I need to be able to steer them in the right direction.
I can also help you out by telling you about Juan Bahena--the name on the other plaque.
I hope to hear from you soon,
Jim Jungblut murdered Marcia Degan on the Friday before Easter vacation in 1963. A lot of people went to the Easter relays at Balboa Stadium that afternoon because we didn't want to go home. Ricky Herrmann broke a lot of records that day as a tribute to her. They grew up across the street from each other.
Betsy Scarborough '63
I believe it happened in the morning of a warm spring day in 1963. My frend Bill McCallister '63 and I and a few others were taking our first class of the day during our senior year at Hoover High of all places (special community college level classes), and I remember coming to the school that morning in his car after the Hoover HIgh class and seeing a bunch of police cars out front. We didn't then know what was going on. That's all we can really remember.
Murray O. Kane '63
Hi I knew Marcia and -- as I remember it -- she was killed the Friday before Easter vacation began shot in front of the school as we were going to school. I lived at the corner of Trojan and Sharon and he lived three houses down on Sharon, I think.
Anne Hopkins Subia 63
I feel like Nancy Drew and just in the last two hours. I've had a call from Texas and talked to Marcia's brother. I've also received two e-mails. What's interesting is everyone has a different spin on the events of that morning--but I'm having fun investigating.
I think my students will be intrigued to know so many people responded. I think this is becoming a story on the importance of friends made in high school and the impact it has on our lives.
Forward anything else you find. It's a challenge to me now.
James Jungblut shot Marcia Degan on Good Friday, 1963 on the street behind the school. I am not sure of the name of the street. I can find out. She was in the class of 1963. She was an outstanding student and athlete and was Jewish and had to be buried before sunset that night is what I was told. It was the last day of school before Easter Vacation, which we were allowed to call it then. I was in an early class and P.E. was my next class and the first class of the day for most of the student body. No one was dressing up for class. Everyone seemed very sad and that's when I heard what had happened. It was devastating news for me personally and for Crawford H.S. because nothing like that had ever happened like this while I had attended CHS.
Jim shot Marica first in the head and then shot himself. Her father had supposedly talked to this young man a few days earlier and thought everything was ok. She had chosen to break up with him and I guess he couldn't accept it. I had seen them at a concert at SDSU before and wondered what she was doing dating a guy like that. He didn't seem her kind. He apparently had graduated early from Crawford and was an engineering student at State. He liked to go hunting and had not taken his guns out of his car from the weekend so he must have planned this for several days. She and her brother came to school together and the brother left her alone to talk to Jim but immediately came back to give aid his dying sister. It must have been a horrific experience for him.
I have never forgotten Marcia as I had known her for four years and knew personally that she excelled in all types of sports. She easily could have gone on to greater things. She was an all around great person and full of life. It is sad that out of selfishness, that life was extinguished. It was also sad because she was a senior and would be graduating shortly.
The account I'm giving is what I remember from the various conversations at school and may have read in the newspaper, so I cannot vouch for total accuracy.
I would be interested in hearing the other accounts to make sure that what I have shared is as close to accurate as is possible.
Also, it would be good to have the students there at Crawford learn that there are more constructive ways to handle relationships and that if he had done himself in only, that would have been sad enough but to take someone else's life is not a choice.
Phyllis Dozier 63
I knew Marcia through one class, although not well, and shared in the news as it was discussed that morning and later. She was a bright, friendly and popular girl. I had forgotten Jungblut's name, but yes, Marcia was accosted while walking to school in 1963 and murdered. The story told then (as I recall it now) was that she had tried to break off from a guy she had seen a few times. He stopped her on the sidewalk within a few blocks of campus. They exchanged a few words, then he shot her at point blank range before shooting himself. It affected many of us profoundly. One of my best friends, Terry Nelson, was a good friend and admirer of Marcias, and his grief and anger fueled my own reaction.
(Later in college I wrote a poem about the senselessness of the killing.)
I remember Marcia as an intelligent, and athletic person with a unique color of hair, and perfect light olive skin. Simple hairstyle and natural. I don't know why I think she died in the fall, but that is my recollection. The weather is so much the same each season there. Here is what I do remember. For some odd reason I walked a different-than-usual way to school that morning or home from school that afternoon, and found out that day or the next at school that Marcia had been shot and killed/murdered. I think she had just broken up with Jungblut and he believed that this time she meant it to be final. As I remember they had been together, broken up, got back together and then she ended it for good.
In 1963 I do not believe we had counselors come to school to help with the grief, but we were told about the murder. I can still feel the shock, nothing had prepared me for a murder or murder suicide in our then white middle to upper middle class suburban neighborhood. I remember Jungblut as having killed himself at or around the time of the murder, which took place as I remember it, just off campus, (I believe) just out of what was then the back parking lot by the baseball fields. In my memory the murder took place on someone's lawn, I think she was coming to school but again maybe it was going home. I remember feeling so badly for the people who lived on that street.
I remember being so grateful for whatever intuition took my via a different route, I was so grateful not to have to see Marcia, who I had known for years, as an acquaintance--murdered. I don't think I ever knew where she was shot but in my imagination it was in the head. I remember feeling the dangers of romantic love for the first time. Thank you for asking about her. It is comforting to think that plaque brings her to some caring soul's mind. It is good for me to stop and remember a life cut tragically short.
I hope there is something written somewhere to remember more about her life and gifts, it is the shocking tragedy of the death that remains with me. And it is not right to have it eclipse a life. About a third of our school was Jewish and so Marcia may have been buried right away. I don't remember a memorial service or any closure. When you find out more can you share your findings with me. I was in the class of 1963.
I just read John Fry's posting to the Crawford Alumni re-feeding your letter. I am a Crawford graduate of the class of '63, so Marcia was one of my classmates. I didn't know her well, but the deathly quiet of the lunch period that April 5th, 1963 (I'm fairly sure of the date) is something I'll never forget. Marcia was murdered in front of my house on Spartan Circle. Walking home after school there was still some blood at the curb that hadn't been completely washed away.
I now work in television with KUSI-TV as sound technician for the Morning News and other programs. Even back then I had an interest in radio and television, so I recorded the news account that evening as broadcast by, then, KDEO, 910KHZ, AM, a top rock and roll station in San Diego. The report said essentially that James, a student at San Diego State College (then), and Marcia appeared to be arguing shortly before class, possibly about her wanting to break up with him. Ultimately, he produced a pistol and shot her in the stomach. Then, he turned the gun on himself and fired. Since I had the early schedule I never even knew about it. But I was shocked when I learned during classes that the location of the incident was in front of my home.
That afternoon back at home, my mom said that she didn't hear any arguing or other noise (she usually had a table radio playing as she worked), but did hear a loud "pop," followed shortly thereafter by a second one. She said she thought it was just a car backfiring, and never went to the door to look until later when there was more commotion and police and an ambulance outside. I hope this sheds some light on my darkest day at Crawford.
Owen C. Western 63
I'm going to give you all the details I could find in two articles written about Degen's murder. On Friday, April 5, 1963, Marcia Degen, 17, was shot three times by James Jungblut. The wounds proved fatal. Jungblut, 20, a junior at San Diego State and a Crawford High graduate, then turned the .22 caliber revolver on himself and killed himself.. Both died the same morning at College Park Hospital.
The double shooting occurred before classes. Jungblut intercepted Degen after she parked her car where Spartan Drive meets Spartan Circle (near the old back entrance to the campus). Marcia had recently stopped dating Jungblut. According to witnesses, the pair were arguing before Jungblut pulled out the revolver and shot Marcia three times in the left side of her head.
Apparantly, Jungblut had twice threatened her life the previous day. Marcia's parents contacted Jungblut's parents over the incidents, but did not contact police. A note was found at the site of the murder-suicide.
Wrote Jungblut in the note: "People are bound to wonder why I did this. I can't explain it. My idle threats meant nothing. But now I have been pushed to the brink. I can take no more of Marcia's folks. Her father tries to do what he thinks is right, but in this case he is wrong. I am not doing this out of malice. Perhaps the lesson would be just as profound if I only killed myself. But I think not. Too many people have got to learn too many things."
Hope this helps,
Bill Center 63
At this point it has become an exercise in collecting stories for me. What I plan to do now is let the kids sift through the information and discrepencies. Then they can agree on what the most likely true version is. I have spoken to the brother of Marcia, Richard, and events as he remembers them are not what I'm hearing from others.
In any case, the last two you sent, this and from Bill Center, had not come to me, and they are full of tid-bits. So keep them coming. A week ago we were hitting a brick wall and now I have 20 pages of notes.
You must have a lot of influence John. Aside from the e-mails, I've received a phone call from both Texas and Montana. I'm impressed and I think my students will be too. It's also becoming a lesson in knowing how their high school experiece will be so memorable to them in their futures.