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Inmate case files for Clutter murderers online

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, June 3, 2013, at 5:51 a.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, June 4, 2013, at 9:35 a.m.

Photos

Anyone with an Internet connection can now view the inmate case files for the two men convicted and executed for the murders that inspired Truman Capote’s book “In Cold Blood.”

The files for Richard Eugene Hickock and Perry Edward Smith have been added to Kansas Memory, the Kansas State Historical Society’s online archives of photographs, manuscripts and government records. Hickock and Smith killed Herb and Bonnie Clutter, their daughter, Nancy, and son, Kenyon, at their home in Holcomb in 1959.

Michael Church, the historical society’s digital projects director, said that he was unaware of any conversations with members of the Clutter family in which they objected to putting the files online.

“We’re sensitive to victims’ rights,” Church said. “We know there are members of the Clutter family that are still living.”

Church said the case files were among the most frequently requested items in the society’s collection. He said the files’ popularity was the main reason for putting them online. As of Monday afternoon, Smith’s file had been viewed 337 times in the past 24 hours, and Hickock’s file had been viewed 248 times.

Digital archivist Jocelyn Wehr helped prepare the case files for Kansas Memory. She said the files include numerous legal documents, but also a few surprising details. Hickock and Smith requested the same last meal before they were executed: shrimp and strawberries.

“It’s the one thing they had in common,” Wehr said.

Wehr also noticed a letter from Mack Nations, a reporter for the Wichita Eagle and Beacon who had interviewed Hickock and written about him before Capote. In the letter, Nations claimed to have exclusive rights to Hickock’s life story, and threatened to sue Hickock for any money he received from Capote in exchange for using his story. Both Wehr and Church said they were unaware if any lawsuit had been filed. The files are viewable on the Kansas Memory website at kansasmemory.org/blog.

Contributing: Associated Press

Reach Elizabeth Scheltens at 316-268-6562 or escheltens@wichitaeagle.com.

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