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.
Kyle Smith, deputy director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, said bone fragments were collected from the skeletal remains of Richard Hickock and Perry Smith, who were hanged for the murders of Herb and Bonnie Clutter and their children in Holcomb, Kan., on Nov. 15, 1959.
The fragments were collected at the request of a Sarasota County Sheriff's detective, who has been trying to determine whether Hickock and Perry Smith 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.
Hickock and Perry Smith have been considered suspects in the Walker slayings since 1960, and Kyle Smith said Florida officials have expressed an interest several times over the decades in renewing the investigation. DNA testing now has advanced enough that older material can be analyzed more effectively, he said.
"We can get smaller samples, more decayed samples, and still get matches," Kyle Smith said during a news conference at the city hall in Lansing. "They could have tried this 20 years ago and maybe used up what biological samples they had and gotten nothing from it."
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.
"Our interest is providing closure to the Walker family," Kyle Smith said. "Obviously, where these perpetrators are dead, it's not going to result in any prosecution."
He added: "Obviously, there's a lot of historical interest as well."