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In Cold Blood’ Case Files Can Be Published After Decades: Judge

WICHITA, Kan. — The son of a Kansas law enforcement officer who helped investigate the 1959 killings that inspired the book "In Cold Blood" can publish his father's field notes that he says substantially contradict the account found in Truman Capote's literary masterpiece.

In a ruling made public Monday, Shawnee County District Court Judge Larry Hendricks said he made an error when he initially blocked publication of the criminal investigation files in 2012. His decision means that Ronald Nye of Oklahoma City can use his father's files for a book he plans about the slayings of prominent farmer and community leader Herbert Clutter, his wife and two children in Holcomb.

The Kansas attorney general's office had sued Nye to keep him from publishing the files. Nye had planned to auction the records, but later decided to write a book with author Gary McAvoy. Nye and McAvoy can now work with agents and find a publisher for their book.

Nye's father, Kansas Bureau of Investigation agent Harold Nye, kept the case files at his home. Hendricks ruled Nye's First Amendment right to publish the material outweigh the government's interest in maintaining the confidentiality of its investigative records. Nye and McAvoy would not reveal exactly what is in the files, but Nye said Monday that his father's notebooks had "vast discrepancies" from what Capote wrote.

Parolees Dick Hickock and Perry Smith were executed for the killings in 1965. Capote's book about the crime inspired a movie of the same name.

Ronald Nye recalled that his father was so disappointed in Capote's book that he read only about 115 pages before throwing it across the room. He said his dad walked out of the movie's premiere after just 15 minutes.

IN-DEPTH

- The Associated Press