LANSING, Kan. (AP) — The bodies of the two men executed for the 1959 murders of a Kansas family that became infamous in Truman Capote’s true-crime book “In Cold Blood” were exhumed Tuesday in an effort to solve slayings of a Florida family killed weeks later.
The bodies of Richard Hickock and Perry Smith were exhumed from the Mount Muncie Cemetery in Lansing at the request of the Sarasota County, Fla., sheriff’s office, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation announced in a news release.
The two men were executed for the murders of Herb and Bonnie Clutter and their children in Holcomb, Kan., on Nov. 15, 1959.
A Sarasota County Sheriff’s detective has been trying to determine whether Smith and Hickock were responsible for the deaths of Cliff and Christine Walker and their two young children on Dec. 19, 1959, in their home in Osprey, about four hours northwest of Miami near Sarasota. Smith and Hickock fled to Florida after the Clutter murders.
Sarasota County detective Kimberly McGath said she requested the exhumation to obtain DNA that could be compared to that from semen found on Christine Walker’s underwear. All the Walkers were shot. Christine Walker also was beaten and raped. Their 2-year-old daughter also was drowned in a bathtub.
Detectives who investigated the Walker murders have considered Smith and Hickock possible suspects since 1960, according to records released by the Sarasota Sheriff’s Office. The two men checked out of a Miami Beach motel on Dec. 19, the day the Walker family was killed, and at some point that day bought items at a Sarasota department store.
Witnesses have said they spoke with Smith and Hickock in Tallahassee on Dec. 21.
McGath said the Walkers were considering buying a 1956 Chevy Bel Air, the kind of car Smith and Hickock were driving through Florida. McGath thinks the Walkers met with the men because of the car, which had been stolen.
Smith and Hickock were later arrested in Las Vegas. A polygraph test cleared them of the Walker murders but a polygraph expert said in 1987 that such tests were worthless in the early 1960s.