The Who2 Blog

‘In Cold Blood’ Killers Exhumed

The two murderers portrayed in the book In Cold Blood have been exhumed in Kansas, in the hopes of solving murders in Florida.

Richard “Dick” Hickock and Perry Smith were executed in 1965, hanged for killing the Clutter family in November of 1959. Hickock and Smith, former prison mates, were under the impression that Farmer Clutter had a safe full of cash.

There wasn’t a safe full of cash, and Hickock and Smith murdered Herb and Bonnie and their two kids, Nancy and Kenyon. They fled Kansas and a month later ended up in Sarasota, Florida.

Their story was the basis for the 1966 Truman Capote book In Cold Blood (it was made into a 1967 movie, with Robert Blake as Perry Smith).

A month after the Clutter killings, and six days before Christmas, Cliff and Christine Walker and their two young children, Debbie and Jimmie, were found brutally murdered in their home in Osprey, outside of Sarasota. They’d been shopping that day in downtown Sarasota.

Hickock and Smith were suspects in that case, but after passing a polygraph in 1960, they were cleared. A very, very cold case, Sarasota detectives never gave up. They had material evidence from the Walker murders, as well as circumstantial evidence from witnesses, but until recently DNA testing technology hasn’t been advanced enough.

This month the Kansas Bureau of Investigation agreed to exhume the bodies of Dick Hickock and Perry Smith and supply bone fragments for DNA testing. Kyle Smith of the KBI says it’s not simply about two famous murderers from a famous book — it’s about closure for the Walker family of Florida.

To read more about Truman Capote, see the Who2 biography.

To read more about famous exhumations, see Common Bonds: Exhumation Celebration.

(Photos of Hickock and Smith from the Associated Press.)

Related Biographies

Share this: