In Cold Blood Murders Can’t be Linked to Florida Murders


You might recall that several months ago, the remains of Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, the two men executed for the murders of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas, were exhumed in order to obtain DNA samples in hopes of solving a similar case involving the murder of a family in Florida.

On Tuesday, authorities announced that the DNA samples could not be linked to the Florida crime. This is sad news for the family and friends of the Walkers, who continue to be denied closure on a very cold case.

The tests did not clear the men who murdered the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kan., from committing a crime just as grisly while on the lam in the Sunshine State.

But investigators, working with evidence too old and degraded, could not positively match the pair’s DNA samples to Christine Walker, who was slain with her husband and two children about a month after the Kansas killings.

Reflecting on this from a Kansas history and literature standpoint, I can’t help but wonder how much the narrative would have changed had the DNA tests proven to be a match. Part of In Cold Blood‘s eeriness is the idea that the Clutter family murders happened because these two damaged men, neither of whom likely would have committed such a horrible crime alone, came together to commit this horrible act and spent the rest of their lives trying to run from it. Truman Capote’s novel also haunts us because it reminds us that if it can happen in Kansas, it can happen anywhere. To have connected them to yet another, similar crime would have not only solved a cold case, but also completely changed the narrative in both literature and history.

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