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—which he says substantially contradict the account found in Truman Capote's literary masterpiece. In a ruling made public yesterday, 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 can use father Harold Nye's files for a planned book with author Gary McAvoy about the slayings of Herbert Clutter, his wife, and two children in Holcomb. Parolees Dick Hickock and Perry Smith were executed for the killings in 1965.
The Kansas attorney general's office had sued Nye to keep him from publishing the files, citing the confidentiality of investigative records and the Clutter family's privacy concerns. Nye and McAvoy would not reveal exactly what is in the files, but Nye said yesterday that his father's notebooks had "vast discrepancies" from what Capote wrote. "Our belief is that there is no other reason (Kansas) would want the materials we have suppressed were it not for the information we found in them," McAvoy said. "That information connects to other research I've done and supports a pretty compelling new theory—one that I am reluctant to even discuss at this point." 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. Last year, the Wall Street Journal outlined some of the discrepancies between Capote's book and Nye's files. (Read more Truman Capote stories.)