Kansas State Penitentiary - March, 1960
|Born||Richard Eugene Hickock
June 6, 1931
Kansas City, Kansas
|Died||April 14, 1965
|Occupation||Criminal, railroad worker, mechanic|
|Criminal penalty||Death by hanging|
Richard Eugene "Dick" Hickock (June 6, 1931 – April 14, 1965) was one of two ex-convicts convicted of murdering four members of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas, United States, on November 15, 1959, a crime made famous by Truman Capote in his 1966 non-fiction novel In Cold Blood. Along with Perry Edward Smith, Hickock took part in the burglary of the Clutter family farmhouse.
Richard Eugene Hickock was born in Kansas City, Kansas, to farmworker parents, Walter Sr. and Eunice Hickock. He was a popular student with great intelligence and was an athlete at Olathe High School before head injuries from a serious automobile accident in 1950 left him disfigured, and resulted in his face being slightly lopsided and his eyes asymmetrical. Although he had wanted to attend college, his family lacked the means to provide this, so he went to work as a mechanic. He married, but then became involved in an extramarital affair, eventually leading to the conception of his first child. He then decided to end his marriage to marry his mistress; that marriage also ended in divorce after two more children. He turned to petty crime, such as cheating and using fraudulent checks, to help make ends meet. He eventually landed in prison, where he met Smith and hatched a plan for robbery and murder.
According to Truman Capote in his account of the Clutter murders, In Cold Blood, he was prevented by his partner in crime, Smith, from raping 16-year-old Nancy Clutter during the crime in the Clutter home.
Hickock later testified that he and Smith had gotten the idea to rob the Clutters after Hickock was told, by former cellmate Floyd Wells, who had earlier worked as a farmhand for the Clutters, that there was a safe in the family's house containing $10,000. However, when they invaded the house just after midnight on November 15, 1959, they discovered that there was no such safe. The pair then murdered all four members of the family. Alvin Dewey, chief investigator in the case, testified at the trial that Hickock insisted in his confession that Smith performed all the killings; Smith, however, first claimed Hickock killed the two women, but later claimed to have shot them himself. Both refused to testify during their trial.
Along with Smith, Hickock was arrested in Las Vegas, Nevada, on December 30, 1959, for the Clutter family murders, for which they were both tried and found guilty. They both talked extensively to Capote when he was researching In Cold Blood.
Hickock and Smith were executed by hanging at the Kansas State Penitentiary on April 14, 1965. When asked if he had any last words, Hickock declined, but he requested to address the KBI agents who had worked on his case and now were present as witnesses to his execution. Hickock told them that he had "no hard feelings" towards them; he shook each agent's hand and simply said, "Goodbye." Smith, in contrast, attempted to speak beyond the room when he addressed the media representatives and declared "capital punishment is legally and morally wrong." Hickock was executed first and was pronounced dead at 12:41 am; Smith followed shortly after and was pronounced dead at 1:19 am.
Hickock and Smith were both buried in nearby Mount Muncie Cemetery in Lansing, Kansas. Hickock donated his eyes for corneal transplants, and they were used on two patients in Kansas City later that day.
The bodies of the killers were exhumed December 18, 2012, from Mount Muncie Cemetery, as authorities hoped to solve a 53-year-old cold case using DNA. The two were questioned about the December 19, 1959 shooting murder in Osprey, Florida, of Cliff and Christine Walker and their two young children. Smith and Hickock had fled to Florida after the Clutter murders. A polygraph administered at the time of their arrest in the Clutter case cleared them of the murder, but by modern polygraph standards, their test results are no longer considered valid. On December 19, 2012, officials in Kansas exhumed the bodies of Smith and Hickock and retrieved bone fragments in order to attempt to compare their DNA to semen found in the pants of Christine Walker. In August 2013, the Sarasota County Sheriff's office announced they were unable to find a match between the DNA of Perry Smith or Richard Hickock with the samples in the Walker family murder. Only partial DNA could be retrieved, possibly due to degradations of the DNA samples over the decades or contamination in storage, making the outcome one of uncertainty (neither proving nor disproving the involvement of Smith and Hickock). Consequently, investigators have stated that Smith and Hickock still remain the most viable suspects.
Hickock was portrayed by Scott Wilson in the 1967 film adaptation of In Cold Blood; by Anthony Edwards in the 1996 TV miniseries adaptation; by Mark Pellegrino in the 2005 film Capote; and by Lee Pace in the 2006 film Infamous.
- In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
- Capote, Truman. In Cold Blood. New York: Random House, 1965.
- "Hickock, Smith Pay Extreme Penalty". Garden City Telegram. Garden City, KS. April 14, 1965. Retrieved September 4, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Last Words Attack Capital Punishment". Garden City Telegram. Garden City, KS. Retrieved September 4, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- "To Be Buried at Levenwarth". Garden City Telegram. Garden City, KS. AP. Retrieved September 4, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Hickock's Eyes To Two Persons". Garden City Telegram. Garden City, KS. AP. Retrieved September 4, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- Van Olson, Cora. "‘In Cold Blood’ Killers Suspected in Cold Case of Florida Family Massacre". Crime Library. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- "'In Cold Blood' Killers Exhumed, Investigators Hope to Solve 53-Year-Old Cold Case". ABC News. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
- "'In Cold Blood' killers' bodies exhumed in second murder investigation". NBC News. 19 December 2012. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- Sanderson, Bill (December 20, 2012). "‘In Cold Blood’ killers' bodies exhumed to check for link in 1959 Florida slaying". New York Post. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- Koehn, Donna (13 August 2013). "No DNA link between Walker murders, 'In Cold Blood' killers". Herald Tribune. Retrieved 30 September 2013.