Holcomb, the Clutter family murder history.

The village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call “out there.

Holcomb, too, can be seen from great distances. Not that there is much to see-simply an aimless congregation of buildings divided in the center by the main-line tracks of the Santa Fe Railroad.

These are excerpts from the first paragraphs of Truman Capote’s famous novel ‘In Cold Blood,’ published in 1966. Capote created a new genre with this novel as it is the first non fiction novel and first a true crime story.

The story in short deals with the murder (slaughter) of the Clutter (husband, wife, daughter and son) family in their home in Holcomb, Kansas, by two ex-convicts on November 15 of 1959. The two ex-convicts handled on hearsay that the Clutters had a safe with thousands of dollars in their home. In fact, the robbery provided them with only 42 dollars (today’s equivalent app 450 dollars). The two ex-convicts were caught a few days before Xmas in 1959, sentenced to death and were hanged in April 1965.

This tragedy is the only memorable event that ever happened in Holcomb Kansas, and it would, no doubt, have faded from memory, had Capote not wrote his book that lead to several film adaptions, most recently Capote (2005) starring Philip Seymour Hoffman in the title role.

These photos show how correctly Capote described Holcomb and surrounding landscapes of Kansas. The third photo shows the former Clutter house from a distance as it is private property and their privacy needs to be respected! BTW, Capote never wrote anything meaningful after ‘In Cold Blood,’ and he died in 1984 of alcohol and drugs addiction.

I visited Holcomb autumn 2023 during my holidays in nearby Colorado. I was struck by the story when I saw the movie Capote, and this prompted me to read the book. Being so close-by in Colorado, made me decide to take a look and feel if Capote’s description of the plains in Kansas was adequately. It is good to have experienced this.

Rijko Ebens

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