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‘In Cold Blood’ killers’ DNA not linked to Florida

August 13, 2013

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (AP) — DNA testing on the two killers profiled in the Truman Capote book “In Cold Blood” does not link them to a quadruple homicide Florida more than 50 years ago, ending perhaps the best chance police and the victims’ family had at solving the cold case.

Capt. Jeff Bell of the Sarasota Sheriff’s Office told The Associated Press on Tuesday authorities were unable to make a match between killers Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, and Christine Walker, who was slain in 1959 in Sarasota with her husband and two children. The family was killed about a month after Hickock and Smith murdered a Kansas farmer and his family.

Authorities said they were unable to match the DNA because only partial profiles could be taken from the exhumed bodies in December, and the Walker crime scene samples were old and degraded. No more tests were scheduled.

“The complication lies in the fact that there’s still some uncertainty,” Bell said. “It wouldn’t exclude them but it also does not provide us with any level of confidence to say there’s a match because there’s not.”

Hickock and Smith have long been suspects, and despite the match, police still believe they were likely involved.

“We’re not closing the case,” Bell said. “It remains an unsolved murder. The mystery continues and we’ll look for other opportunities. We’ve reached a point where we don’t believe we’re going to accomplish that through DNA testing.”

Smith and Hickock fled to Florida after killing prominent Kansas farmer Herb Clutter, his wife and two of their children.

The murders in Holcomb, Kansas, were chronicled in Capote’s book, which gripped readers with its vivid narrative of the Clutter family life and the tormented inner workings of the killers’ minds. The book detailed the grisly murders, Smith’s and Hickock’s trial, and their execution.

“In Cold Blood” mentions the Walker killings in a short passage; Capote incorrectly states that the slayings occurred near Tallahassee, about five hours north of the actual scene.

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