Fire damages house where 'In Cold Blood' killings occurred
08/22/2011 12:00 AM
08/06/2014 1:08 AM
An unattended cigarette is being blamed for a fire that damaged the house in southwest Kansas where Herb Clutter and his family were murdered on a November night in 1959.
The fire was reported just after 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the house on the edge of Holcomb, Garden City Fire Chief Allen Shelton said.
The fire was contained to a bedroom, he said, but heat and smoke damage spread to the rest of the house and water damage accumulated in the basement.
Donna Mader, the 74-year-old woman who lives at the house, was not hurt in the fire.
"She'll be out of the house for a few days, but it'll be livable again as soon as they get a few repairs done," Shelton said.
The house was in rural Finney County when Perry Smith and Dick Hickock, on parole from the state penitentiary, murdered Herb and Bonnie Clutter and their children Nancy, 16, and Kenyon, 15, on Nov. 15, 1959.
The crime shocked a nation and became the basis for Truman Capote's literary classic, "In Cold Blood." Hickock and Smith were captured six weeks after the killings and executed on April 14, 1965.
Though interest in the case and the house remains high, Shelton said, Mader does not give tours of her home.
Join the Discussion
The Wichita Eagle is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.