‘In Cold Blood’ killers suspects in Florida case
OSPREY, FlA. — 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.
Linking long-dead killers to unsolved homicides is becoming more common.
In Chicago, the Cook County Sheriff’s Department is trying to find out whether serial killer John Wayne Gacy could be responsible for any more deaths. Officials there are entering murderers’ DNA profiles into a national database shared with other law-enforcement agencies. The move is based on an ironic legal distinction: The men were technically listed as homicide victims themselves because they were put to death by the state.
Authorities hope to find DNA matches from blood, semen, hair or skin under victims’ fingernails that link the long-dead killers to the cold cases. And they want investigators in other states to follow suit and submit the DNA of their own executed inmates or from decadesold crime scenes.
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.
Hickock and Smith are buried at Mount Muncie Cemetery in Lansing, Kan. The state interred executed criminals there whose families didn’t claim the bodies.