This Day in Crime History: November 15, 1959

On this date in 1959, two ex-convicts murdered four members of the Clutter family at their home in Kansas. The murderers, Richard Hickock and Perry Smith, broke into the Clutter home after being told of Herbert Clutter’s cash-filled safe. After discovering there was no safe, and that Herbert Clutter did not keep large amounts of cash on hand, Smith flew into a rage and killed Clutter by slitting his throat and shooting him. Following Herbert’s murder, his wife Bonnie, and his children Nancy, 16 and Kenyon, 15 were each killed with a shotgun blast to the head.

Police were quickly onto Hickock and Smith, thanks to a tip from the same prison inmate that had told the two killers about the nonexistent safe in the Clutter home. They were arrested in Las Vegas, NV on December 30, 1959. At trial they attempted, unsuccessfully, to plead temporary insanity. Both men were convicted of the murders. They were executed by hanging at Kansas State Penitentiary on April 14, 1965.

Further reading:

In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote

Crime Library – The Clutter Family Killings

GCPD – Clutter Family Murders

Wikipedia – In Cold Blood

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