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'In Cold Blood' Killers Exhumed For Clues To Sarasota County Family Massacre In 1959

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The bodies of "In Cold Blood" killers Perry Smith and Richard Hickock have been exhumed in Kansas for DNA samples that could tie them to murders of a Sarasota County family.

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Credit uncredited
EXHUMED: Bone fragments were taken from the graves of 'In Cold Blood' killers Richard Hickock, left, and Perry Smith.

The men were hanged for killing Herb and Bonnie Clutter and their children in Holcomb, Kan., in 1959.

After the Clutter murders, documented in Truman Capote's famous book, "In Cold Blood" and a movie of the same name, Smith and Hickock fled to Florida. A little more than a month later, Cliff and Christine Walker and their two children were killed in their home in Osprey, near Sarasota.

Sarasota County investigators say DNA evidence recovered from the Walker murder scene may be a match for whatever is found in the Kansas graves of the two killers.

The Associated Press says Perry and Hitchcock have never left the law enforcement radar:

Hickock and Perry Smith have been considered suspects in the Walker slayings since 1960, and Kyle Smith said Florida officials have expressed an interest several times over the decades in renewing the investigation. DNA testing now has advanced enough that older material can be analyzed more effectively, he said. “We can get smaller samples, more decayed samples, and still get matches,” Kyle Smith said during a news conference at the city hall in Lansing. “They could have tried this 20 years ago and maybe used up what biological samples they had and gotten nothing from it.”

The two killers had been staying at a Miami Beach motel since shortly after the Kansas murders. They checked out Dec. 19, the day the Walkers were killed, and reportedly bought some items at a Sarasota department store later the same day.

Bone fragments were recovered during exhumations carried out in Lansing, Kan., at Mount Muncie Cemetery where executed criminals are buried.