Tuesday, April 24, 2018

'In Cold Blood' murderers investigated in Florida

OSPREY — At the end of 1959, two families of four — one in Kansas, the other in Florida — were brutally murdered.

Two men were arrested, charged and executed in the Kansas case, and writer Truman Capote captured the horrific tale in his iconic true crime book, In Cold Blood.

The Florida murder of two parents and two children was investigated by dozens of detectives over the years, but it remained unsolved. Now, a detective is trying to prove that the men who were executed in Kansas were also responsible for the Florida slayings.

"It's like putting together a jigsaw puzzle," said Sarasota County sheriff's detective Kimberly McGath, who began re-investigating the murders of Cliff and Christine Walker and their two young children in 2007.

McGath said there is evidence that points to two men who are now in a Kansas cemetery for executed prisoners: Perry Smith and Richard Hickock.

DNA recovered from semen found on Christine Walker's underwear could be compared to the remains of Smith and Hickock, said McGath. She is working with Kansas authorities to petition a judge there to approve exhuming the bodies of the two men.

Kansas officials said this week they have talked with Florida detectives and would continue to help if the Florida detectives file an exhumation petition in court.

The possibility that the pair were involved in the Florida murders has been considered since 1960, according to records released by the Sarasota Sheriff's Office.

After Smith and Hickock killed the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kan., on Nov. 15, 1959, they fled to Florida in a stolen car.

On Dec. 18, the two men checked into a Miami Beach motel and checked out the next day. That day, the Walker family was killed at their home on a ranch in the small community of Osprey near Sarasota.

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