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Murders in Kansas In Cold Blood

Updated on November 1, 2015

Truman Capote


The Murders at the Farmhouse

It probably seems almost a sin to try to look at what happened to the murders in Kansas of the Clutter family. You feel like a voyeur, one who should not be looking at it. You can't stop it though. Already you need to find out what happened. You need to find out about the murders.

It would be good if you could figure out how they died. That is if someone could tell you. Someone named Truman Capote did. He laid it all out. It was not so frightening then. You knew what it was. The killers had nowhere to hide then. They were in prison. You knew they were in prison there. They had long been hung and gotten rid of by the time I had started reading the book. But it was as if everything was still fresh while I was reading it. It was as if the horrible murders had just happened. You could feel the air thick in the town. The townspeople not really wanting to look at each other. The ones that pretended as if nothing really happened.

The murders happened in 1959. The family was murdered for a portable Zenith radio, binoculars, four silver dollars, and $40.00 in cash. The murderers had been told there was $10,000.00 in a safe. They had planned it, with the murders being part of the plan.

Some of them are probably ready now. Thinking that if it were to happen again they would be ready. They would step in to save them. But that night there was no one there. It was one of those farms that are too far away from the others. You would not hear them screaming if they had been screaming. The parents and two of the children were killed. They would seem to have been killed separately.

It was explained in the book that the robbers had managed to enter the farmhouse at night. Mr. Clutter probably thought that the best thing that he could do would be to go along quietly. The two convicts had heard that they were rich and they wanted to get to the safe.

There was also the idea there that they would do something to the family so that they would not tell. It was rather vague at first. In the writing that Capote did they both try and say as if it was the other's idea. It seems to come down to the fact that they both had something to do with the murders.

Hickock had wanted to rape the teenage girl but Smith did not want him to. It was all said matter of factly. The thing to note is that it all was not really a big thing to them. As Smith stated for the record in the book, he had been upset but then forgot all about it and was laughing as they rode away.

The convict that turned them in had worked for the Clutter family. Mr Clutter had given him a $50.00 gift for Christmas. That and other reasoning from religion decided him on telling the police about what happened. He had let it slip that Mr. Clutter had money in a safe. He must have felt guilty about it. It gave the two criminals the idea to go and rob and murder the Clutters.

I think Truman Capote had it written down in a very straightforward way in the book. He knew what had happened by the time the writing was over, Capote did, and he just wrote it down as they told him. It was a sickening crime. Some of the writing is sickening and you just can't help but get involved in it. There was a lot of research on it with the families as he dug into their past. There are also nice things that you hear about the Clutter family.

The Farmhouse

The Clutter Farmhouse
The Clutter Farmhouse | Source

Truman Capote

Truman Capote did a good job of listing the events. He went through everything and detailed things that would be leading up to the crime. It was not as if he was judging it. But it was there to me that it was all wrong. I knew that something terrible was going to happen. It was their fault the killers, and they were going to pay for it.

All Truman Capote did was to tell the world in a sane way how they went about doing it. Cold blooded killers were talked to and he took notes. The notes were written into the book. It all formed out a plan that they went through to get there to the murders. There was no one to stop the killers. No one would have known what they were planning. It is hard to look into the heart of killers and know what they are. But I do think that Truman Capote did understand it.

I don't think that the writer's interest was in trying to talk to the killers and to even make friends with them as some have said. I think it was just a sense of pity for what they were. They mostly did not even seem to have understood what they had done. But they did know what they did. It was presented in the book that Smith had drawn pictures of Jesus. He made some people feel sorry for him. He had no caring for anyone else. Neither one of them did.

They knew and they probably tried to present themselves to Capote in the best light. But Truman Capote I think saw them for what they were. It was there in every line that they were killers. That is what I saw there. I am thankful to Capote for giving me a sense of some sense to the killings. That is even though there was no sense to it, I knew what had happened then.

The New York Times gave the book a good review when it came out. I am attaching a link to it here. I think they are right and that it was a great book. The New York Times said that Mr. Capote restored the idea of a soul. I think that was a beautiful way of putting it for what he did. The man worked very hard on it.

The movie on it I think was a little strange. It was presented as if Smith was talking to the teenage girl before she was murdered. It was almost as if he did not do anything. But in reality she had been all tied up. The movie would seem to have been a help but I don't think it was that truthful. I thought it was better to get information from the book.

In Cold Blood


In Cold Blood


My family had a farmhouse in Connecticut and later in Massachusetts so it would seem to me as if it might have been something that could have happened to our family. The family had a farm with a thousand acres. We were not really rich.

If the killers had any sense they would not have done it. You can see that the house is not that expensive. They got hardly any money from robbing and killing them all.

The information on what the murderers got from the robbery is from government files on the case.

Especially look at the first link I have on the links from perspective with newspapers from the town where it happened. The first one there has a picture of a teddy bear left in the house.


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    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

      I read Capote's book at the time of publication, but never saw the movie. The book was chilling and made it clear that Hickok and Smith were psychopaths. I thought after reading it that the title could not have been more apt. The murder of that family in the bucolic setting of a farm seemed especially heinous--more so than if it had occurred in a large city. Back then, Americans didn't expect murders to happen in the heartland, and often didn't lock their doors. Those days, of course, are gone.

      Your review is a reminder that IN COLD BLOOD was Truman Capote's masterpiece.

      Voted Up+


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