Richard Hickock

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Richard Hickock
Richard "Dick" Hickock.jpg
Kansas State Penitentiary - March, 1960
Richard Eugene Hickock

(1931-06-06)June 6, 1931
DiedApril 14, 1965(1965-04-14) (aged 33)
OccupationCriminal, railroad worker, mechanic
Criminal statusExecuted
Criminal chargeMurder
PenaltyDeath 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.

Early life[edit]

Richard Eugene Hickock was born in Kansas City, Kansas, to farmworker parents, Walter Sr. and Eunice Hickock. He was a popular student and an athlete at Olathe High School before head injuries from a serious automobile accident, in 1950, left him disfigured, and rendered his face slightly lopsided and his eyes asymmetrical.

Although he had wanted to attend college, his family lacked the means to finance this, so Hickock went to work as a mechanic. He married but then became involved in an extramarital affair, which eventually resulted in 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.[1]

Hickcock then 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's account of the Clutter murders, In Cold Blood, Hickock was prevented by his partner in crime, Smith, from raping 16-year-old Nancy Clutter during the crime in the Clutter home.[2]

Clutter murders[edit]

Hickock testified after the trial 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, Hickock and Smith discovered that there was no such safe.[3] 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 defendants refused to testify during their trial.

Hickock and Smith were 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 the author was researching In Cold Blood.

Hickock and Smith were executed by hanging at the Kansas State Penitentiary on April 14, 1965.[4] 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 he had "no hard feelings" towards them, shook each agent's hand, and simply said, "Goodbye."[5] Smith, in contrast, attempted to speak beyond the room when he addressed the media representatives and declared: "capital punishment is legally and morally wrong."[5] Hickock was executed first and was pronounced dead at 12:41 am; Smith followed shortly afterward and was pronounced dead at 1:19 am.[4]


Hickock and Smith were both buried in nearby Mount Muncie Cemetery in Lansing, Kansas.[6] Hickock donated his eyes for corneal transplants, and they were used on two patients in Kansas City later that day.[7]

On December 18, 2012, the killers' bodies were exhumed from Mount Muncie Cemetery, as authorities hoped to solve a 53-year-old cold case using DNA. Smith and Hickock had fled to Florida after the Clutter murders, and the two had been questioned about the December 19, 1959, shooting murder in Osprey, Florida, of Cliff and Christine Walker and their two young children. A polygraph administered at the time of their arrest in the Clutter case cleared them of the Walker family murders, but by modern polygraph standards, their test results are no longer considered valid.[8] After the exhumation, officials in Kansas retrieved bone fragments from Smith and Hickock's corpses in order to attempt to compare their DNA to semen found in Christine Walker's pants.[9][10][11]

In August 2013, the Sarasota County sheriff's office announced they were unable to find a match between the DNA of either Smith or 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.[12]

Film portrayals[edit]

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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Capote, Truman (1965). In Cold Blood. New York: Random House. pp. ???.
  2. ^ Capote, Truman (1965). In Cold Blood. New York: Random House. pp. ???.
  3. ^ Capote, Truman (1965). In Cold Blood. New York: Random House.
  4. ^ a b "Hickock, Smith Pay Extreme Penalty". Garden City Telegram. Garden City, KS. April 14, 1965. Retrieved September 4, 2015 – via open access
  5. ^ a b "Last Words Attack Capital Punishment". Garden City Telegram. Garden City, KS. Retrieved September 4, 2015 – via open access
  6. ^ "To Be Buried at Levenwarth". Garden City Telegram. Garden City, KS. AP. Retrieved September 4, 2015 – via open access
  7. ^ "Hickock's Eyes To Two Persons". Garden City Telegram. Garden City, KS. AP. Retrieved September 4, 2015 – via open access
  8. ^ Van Olson, Cora. "'In Cold Blood' Killers Suspected in Cold Case of Florida Family Massacre". Crime Library. Retrieved May 5, 2013.
  9. ^ "'In Cold Blood' Killers Exhumed, Investigators Hope to Solve 53-Year-Old Cold Case". ABC News. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  10. ^ "'In Cold Blood' killers' bodies exhumed in second murder investigation". NBC News. December 19, 2012. Archived from the original on May 30, 2013. Retrieved May 5, 2013.
  11. ^ Sanderson, Bill (December 20, 2012). "'In Cold Blood' killers' bodies exhumed to check for link in 1959 Florida slaying". New York Post. Retrieved May 5, 2013.
  12. ^ Koehn, Donna (August 13, 2013). "No DNA link between Walker murders, 'In Cold Blood' killers". Herald Tribune. Retrieved September 30, 2013.

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