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Sunday Favorites: What Really Happened to the Walkers?

The Walker family was murdered in rural Osprey in 1959.

Dick Hickock and Perry Smith were suddenly relevant again.

Dead for nearly fifty years, their bodies were exhumed from graves at Leavenworth, Kansas, unearthed because new technologies were available to possibly tie the duo to a quartet of murders in Florida, a place they traveled through while fleeing from their 1959 murders of the Clutter family.

They had been on the run following the brutal slayings in Kansas, and while they were crisscrossing the country, a brilliant writer living in New York City caught wind of the situation and, for some reason, decided it would be his next novel.

"In Cold Blood" had made the duo famous for years after they were hung at the Kansas State Penitentiary. It cemented Truman Capote as one of the great modern literary voices, sparked television and film adaptations and made millions of dollars for people who had never set foot in Kansas.

But before all of the fame and all of the debate, the Walker family of Sarasota met a violent end similar to that of Herb Clutter and his family. And with the cold case growing colder, a sudden break in the evidence sent Florida investigators scrambling back into a story that many had simply forgotten about.

It was this renewed sense of hope that the metal claw of a front-end loader began digging in the ground in the cemetery near the Lansing State Prison, as television cameras rolled and reporters from around the country stood agape of the process.

Decades after their deaths and their interment, the infamous killers were being brought back to life, in a sense, and their return would hopefully lay to rest four murders that had went unsolved for over 50 years.

On December 19, 1959 a family of four met a brutal end when they were killed in their rural Osprey home. The youngest, a 23-month-old child named Debbie, was found drowned in the bathtub.

When a neighbor Don McLeod entered the residence, he found the bodies of Clifford, Christine and their two young children, Debbie and Jimmy, dead.

Perry Smith (above) and Dick Hickock (below) are still the most viable suspects in the unsolved Walker case. 

The bodies of the parents and the 3-year-old son lay on the floor not far from the family's glittering Christmas tree that watched over unopened presents. 

The parents and son had been shot in the head. No murder weapon was found, but three .22 caliber cartridges lay near the bodies.

Debbie was found face down in a half-filled bathtub and the Sarasota Sheriff at the time, Ross Boyer, said the killer apparently held the child under the water until she drowned. The girl had also been shot, officials reported.

Bloody footprints were scattered throughout the home and Christine had been covered up with a greasy towel.

The incident shocked the community of Sarasota County and a manhunt went in full swing. At first detectives thought they might have known the family personally. But the pool of suspects was more than 500, and that number slowly dwindled when the detectives began piecing together clues that would lead them to believe the crime was committed by the infamous "In Cold Blood" duo. 

The lack of motive and sympathy is what separated the Clutter case from other crimes at the time and detectives coined the killers as the top two suspects.

Tune in next week to find out why...


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