Richard Hickock and Perry Smith, who were convicted of killing the Clutter family in Kansas in 1959, were the subject of the writer’s famous book, as well as numerous film and TV projects including Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Oscar-winning 2005 movie Capote.
The pair was hanged in 1959 and buried in Mount Muncie Cemetery in Lansing, Kansas, but authorities exhumed the bodies on Tuesday (18Dec12) as part of an investigation into another killing.
Hickock and Smith have long been suspected of murdering Cliff and Christine Walker and their two young children at their home in Osprey, Florida on 19 December 1959 – a month after the Clutter killings – and Florida officials now hope to use DNA testing to prove the case.
Bone fragments taken from the bodies, which were subsequently reburied, will be compared to evidence taken from the scene of the Walker murders in a bid to solve the case which has remained a mystery for more than 40 years.
Kyle Smith, deputy director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, says, “Our interest is providing closure to the Walker family. Obviously, where these perpetrators are dead, it’s not going to result in any prosecution. Obviously, there’s a lot of historical interest as well… Sometimes you just have to wait for the technology to catch up.”
In Cold Blood has been adapted into many film and TV projects including 2006 movie Infamous, which featured James Bond star Daniel Craig as Smith and Lee Pace as Hickock, Robert Blake and Scott Wilson played them in a 1967 film, and a 1996 TV mini-series starred Eric Roberts and Anthony Edwards.