‘In Cold Blood’ killers sus­pects in Florida case

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - Byjohn Hanna and­ta­mara Lush Richard Hick­ock is a sus­pect in four Florida slay­ings in 1959.

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.

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