Crime, She Writes

Breaking down the evidence, one crime at a time

DNA Tests Sought for 'In Cold Blood' Killers

Judge to decide whether to exhume bodies of two men buried 47 years ago.

DNA tests for evidence left behind at the scene of a crime five decades ago may hold the key to who killed a Florida family all those years ago.

In the winter of 1959, the Walker family -- parents Cliff and Christine and their children Debbie and Jimmie -- were shot to death in their Osprey, Florida home.

Drifters Perry Smith and Richard Hickock -- the same duo who were ultimately charged and convicted of killing a family named Clutter the same year -- were spotted several times in nearby Sarasota the day of the Walker murders -- just a month after the Clutters' deaths in rural Kansas. The classic In Cold Blood by novelist Truman Capote detailed the crimes against Herbert Clutter, a farmer, his wife, and two of their four children.

After the Clutter murders, Smith and Hickock fled to Mexico and Florida.

By the time the pair reached Florida, the men were seen looking for work at auto shops and gas stations, according to Capote's book. They eventually were apprehended in Las Vegas.

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After their capture, Smith and Hickock were ruled out as suspects in the Walker case when they passed lie detector tests in 1960. They were, however, charged and convicted in the Clutter killings and executed by hanging in 1965.

Fast forward to present day when Kim McGath, a police detective assigned to the Walker case, began looking closely at the evidence. The research led the investigator to suspect that Smith and Hickock might be responsible for the Walkers' deaths.

Physical evidence, long before the existence of DNA testing, was left behind in the home. Christine Walker had been raped and her underwear soiled, and a cowboy hat had blood on it, according to authorities. On top of that, two suspicious hairs, inconsistent with the Walker family, were found.

"There was a dark hair found in the bathroom, where baby Debbie was found in the bathtub," Detective Kim McGath told ABCNews.com, "and a long blonde hair inside the dress of Christine Walker."

This is a case to watch. Stay tuned.

Cathy Scott's latest true crime book is The Millionaire's Wife.

Cathy Scott is a true crime author, journalist and blogger based in Las Vegas and San Diego.

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