“I’m gonna put some culture up your ass!” – some random father to his child at The Getty Museum
Well hello there snarky people!! Apparently none or very little of you know this tale, so bend over because history, culture, and society is about to be shoved up YOUR butt!!
Four people were murdered in a very tiny town in Kansas back in November 1959. All four people were the same family.
In April 1965, the two people who were responsible for the murders were executed and hanged.
Shortly after, a book was written. The story, the town, the family, and the author would become notorious!!
Now let’s dig a little deeper into detail and show the chain of events leading to this story becoming so infamous.
Two ex-convicts on parole from the Kansas State Penitentiary, Richard “Dick” Hickock and Perry Edward Smith, committed the robbery and murders in November 1959.
One of their former fellow prisoners was Floyd Wells, who had worked as a farmhand for Mr. Clutter who lived in Holcomb, Kansas. Wells told Hickock about a safe at the farmhouse where Herb Clutter kept large amounts of cash. Hickock soon hatched the idea to commit the robbery, leave no witnesses, and start a new life in Mexico with the cash.
Crime scene photo of Mr. Clutter’s body
The information from Wells proved to be nothing but bullshit, since Mr. Clutter did not keep cash, had no safe, and did all his business by check.
Because Hickock believed in this story, they were adamant about finding the safe. The family had been tied up (the men separated from the women) and eventually all were murdered. Shot in the head by a shotgun. The only differences in the murders was that Mr. Clutter also had his throat slit by a knife… is blood splattered all over the basement walls and floor.
The men were found in the basement and the women found upstairs in the house.
No safe was found. The family was robbed of what they did have and Hickock and Smith took off in the middle of the night.
It seems as if nobody heard the shotgun blasts. At least there were no reports of hearing any in this tiny Kansas town.
Soon enough the bodies would be discovered and it would only be a few weeks before they were brought back to Kansas to face charges for the murders.
After years of appeals, both Smith and Hickock were hanged in 1965.
Shortly after, author Truman Capote wrote a book detailing and describing the crime and its ugly consequences.
It was named “In Cold Blood” and it shot everything into infamy and notoriety.
The sales of the book did very well, and even shortly after that was a Hollywood film adaptation in 1967 of the book starring Robert Blake and Scott Wilson as Smith and Hickock.
The film was done in black and white and it follows the story from the time they were paroled all the way until their executions. The one thing that stands out in my mind was the fact that at the end of this film, there’s the sound of a beating heart as the execution is taking place. Then when the body falls through the trap door, it begins to slow down until it finally stops.
Evidently, Truman Capote was there during the times of the execution. He witnessed the execution of Hickock but couldn’t stand to watch the execution of Smith and then soon left the penitentiary.
His literally works put everything and everyone in the spotlight and on the map.
I actually lived in this very specific area of Kansas in the 1990’s. Many people since 1959 have owned the house but have chosen to live there quietly and in peace. One of the owners strangely committed suicide (but not inside of the house) and other strange things are linked to the home.
There was a time when the owners at the time were strapped for cash and was allowing people to come into their home to look around for $5 a person. It was then that I personally had gone inside of the house and seen the places in which the Clutter family had laid dead.
It is actually one of the most creepiest places that I have ever been in. The Clutter home is actually scarier than the Lizzie Borden house in Fall River, Massachusetts. But this is only my opinion.
The one thing that has stuck with my head since visiting the home was the fact that the splattered blood on the walls of the basement from Mr. Clutter is still there. No matter how many times they paint over the blood, it still comes back. I had touched the blood splatter when nobody was looking and I was almost instantly surrounded with the feeling of being frozen…… in late August.
I did not live in Holcomb, but rather I lived in Garden City at the time.
This is a map of the county. Garden City being the county seat as well as the most populated place in the county. Holcomb on the left of the image, almost not IN this photo, but is there.
Holcomb less than 8 miles away from Garden City, Kansas. And I’ve known people who lived in Holcomb. None of them spoke of the murders. Most of them still afraid to bring it up for whatever reason.
The population of Garden City in 2012 is just over 25,000 people. The population of Holcomb where the murders took place in 2012 is just over 2,000 people.
For a little perspective… In 1960 (only a few months after the murders) the population of Garden City, Kansas just a few miles to the east of Holcomb was 10,905 people. The entire COUNTY was 16,093. The population of Holcomb in 1960 is estimated to be only a few hundred.
So this was truly an extremely small town that Smith and Hickock got into and by their criminal actions had put southwestern Kansas in the stars of the sky.
However I will say this for those who are fascinated by murderers, killers, and otherwise have a general interest in this story… do NOT seek the Clutter home any more.
The owners of the house have changed from time to time and the current owners do NOT want anyone entering their house for any reason at all. DO NOT GO THERE!!!
The current owners are extremely super serious about it too. Don’t come to their property, don’t ask to be let into their house, do not drive down their road to take photographs of the house. If the owners are there and they find you, they will call the police. And they will insist you be arrested for trespassing. (In small town Kansas.. trust me, you WILL be arrested!)
I think I caught a lucky break in the 1990’s by seeing that house when the owners at the time had opened their house up. But it got to be a hassle after a while, and so they closed it up again and lived in peace. Or tried to any way.
Other residents of Holcomb are just trying to move on and away from the horrific past. But it seems as if the fame and notoriety of the murders will not let them. Truman Capote sealed their fate. It is worth noting that not a lot of the town’s residents were very willing to talk to Capote when he was in town.
And now you have been educated.
I’ve read the book. It was hard to put it down. I recommend it for those avid readers out there or for those who just want to know more.
There is the 1967 film with Robert Blake.
And there was even a “mini series” starring Anthony Edwards and Eric Roberts. The mini-series wasn’t as great as the black and white film, but does a decent job. Stick with the film from 1967 if you want to be the most accurate to the actual story and to the book.