Corbin H. Crable
The years of friendship with a man previously known to Edgerton residents as a petty thief came to an end when Hickock was executed on April 14, 1965.
According to state records, Capote signed the log of those in attendance at the hangings; when the time came and the condemned were asked if they had any final words, Smith offered an angry, rambling diatribe. Hickock, for his part, was silent.
Witnesses have said Capote then stayed to watch Hickock die first, but left before Smith hung from the noose.
Appropriately, Hickock had previously written his parents to ask them not to come and witness his death. This fell in line with what people had done for Eunice Hickock throughout her entire career as a mother – spared her the heartache of coming to grips with her son’s turbulent history.
After hearing about the execution, Braun, who now was serving as mayor of Edgerton, reflected on why Hickock had joined Smith in going to Holcomb and murdering the Clutters in the first place.
“I think he wanted to prove to the other inmates that he was one of the big guys,” Braun said.
Braun said he thinks that if Hickock had been held accountable for his actions earlier in his life, the brutal slayings of the Clutter family could have been avoided.
“If somebody would have prosecuted him, he might have straightened out,” Braun said. “If somebody would have prosecuted him, these murders may not have happened.”
But the damage, of course, was done, and Capote’s magnum opus, “In Cold Blood,” would soon hit bookstores across the country. And for Edgerton, a town coping with the fact that one of its own was mired in a gruesome tale of murder, things would soon get more interesting — There would later be talk of adapting the book into a film.
Hollywood was coming to town.
(To be continued in “The Origins of Evil, Part III: The Movie,” to be published June 18 in The Gardner News)