At the end of 1959, two families of four — one in Kansas, the other in Florida — were brutally murdered.
Two men were arrested, charged and executed in the Kansas case, and writer Truman Capote captured the horrific tale in his book, “In Cold Blood.”
The Florida murder of two parents and two children remains unsolved.
Now, a detective is trying to prove that Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, who were executed for the Kansas murders, also were responsible for the Florida killings of Cliff and Christine Walker and their children.
Some evidence already points to them, but DNA recovered from semen found on Christine Walker’s underwear could be compared to the remains of Smith and Hickock, said Sarasota County sheriff’s detective Kimberly McGath.
“It’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle,” said McGath, who began re-investigating the murders in 2007.
Kansas officials said they have talked with Florida detectives and would continue to help if the detectives file an exhumation petition in court.
Authorities have considered the possibility of Smith and Hickock’s involvement since 1960, according to records released by the Sarasota sheriff’s office.
After the pair killed the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kan., on Nov. 15, 1959, they fled to Florida in a stolen car.
On Dec. 18, the two checked into a Miami Beach motel and checked out the next day. That day, the Walker family was killed at their home on a ranch in the small community of Osprey about four hours northwest of Miami, near Sarasota.
Cliff Walker was shot and his wife was beaten, raped and then shot. Three-year-old Jimmie was shot and his 2-year-old sister was shot and drowned in a bathtub.
At some point on the same day, Smith and Hickock bought items at a Sarasota department store. Witnesses said they spoke with Smith and Hickock in Tallahassee on Dec. 21.