The Wall Street Journal is out with a fascinating story about one of the most famous murder cases in US history. The newspaper has discovered that Richard Hickock, one of two killers hanged for the In Cold Blood murders chronicled by Truman Capote, wrote his own never-published manuscript about the 1959 slayings of the Clutter family in Kansas. That alone is a surprise given that even Capote scholars never knew of it (though Capote himself did). But the real twist is that Hickock claims in the manuscript that he and accomplice Perry Smith were paid $5,000 as hit men by someone named Roberts. That would significantly change the narrative of the murders if true, but the Journal story makes a convincing case that Hickock, considered a pathological liar, made it up after their convictions.
“I don’t believe for a minute that they got paid to do it," says a Columbia University expert on the killers who was allowed to review the manuscript. The accepted theory has long been that the pair went to the house because of a prison rumor that it held a safe full of money. In his manuscript, Hickock describes the shootings of parents Herb and Bonnie and teenagers Nancy and Kenyon in chilling detail. "I would of liked to see the embalmer fill that hole," he wrote of Kenyon. He authored the manuscript with the help of journalist Mack Nations, and it seems that law-enforcement authorities in Kansas (who were portrayed favorably in Capote's book) worked to keep it from seeing the light of day. It ended up in the hands of a lawyer in the Kansas attorney general's office, who passed it on to his son, and that's the person who allowed the Journal review it. Read the full story. (Read more In Cold Blood stories.)