The body of an Edgerton man and his accomplice are out of the ground and headed to a Kansas forensics lab.
Although they’ve been dead and buried for almost 50 years, Dick Hickock, formerly of Edgerton, and Perry Smith are today the primary suspects in a 1959 murder case in Florida.
Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents executed a search warrant to exhume the remains of Hickock and Smith on Dec. 18. The pair was executed and laid to rest in a Lansing, Kan., cemetery in 1965.
The Sarasota County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office hopes the items removed from coffins last week can be used to link Hickock and Smith to the murders of a Florida family 53 years ago. The duo hanged on April 14, 1965 for the murders of Herb and Bonnie Clutter and their two children, Nancy and Kenyon. The Clutter murders, made notorious by Truman Capote’s book, “In Cold Blood,” bare an eerie resemblance to those of the Walker family of Osprey, Fla.
Like the Clutter family, the four members of the Walker family were killed in their farm home on Dec. 19, 1959. Christine Walker, 24, was raped and shot. Her husband Cliff, 25, and their three-year-old son Jimmie was also shot. Their daughter Debbie, 23 months, was shot and drowned.
The Clutter family was killed in their farm home in November of that same year, and one month later, Smith and Hickock were on the run from authorities. Eyewitness accounts place the pair in Florida at the time of the Walker family slayings.
Hickock once called Edgerton home, and long-time residents there recalled him as a petty thief. The Hickock family moved to Edgerton in 1945.
Ray Braun, former Edgerton resident now deceased recalled that Edgerton townspeople always knew Hickock was a con-man.
Braun told the Gardner News in 2010 that Hickock, “robbed everything in town.”
“He was the most polite boy to his mother. His mother never drove and he’d drive her into town, to the grocery store, and (he) always opened the car door for her. He was happy and friendly, but you knew he was a con man.”
Authorities at the exhumation did not say what they removed from the pairs’ coffins. Investigators told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune they have an unidentified palm print from the home of the Florida murder victims and semen they hope will be a DNA match to Hickock’s or Smith’s remains.
It will be weeks before they are able to determine a match.
Corbin H. Crable contributed to this story.