Perry Edward Smith

Perry Edward Smith

Huntington Valley, Elko County, Nevada, USA
Death 14 Apr 1965 (aged 36)
Lansing, Leavenworth County, Kansas, USA
Burial Lansing, Leavenworth County, Kansas, USA
Plot Sec 34, Row 29, Grave 44 (about 9 rows from top of hill)
Memorial ID 23007 · View Source
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Murderer. Along with Richard Hickock, he murdered the Clutter Family: father Herbert Clutter, his wife Bonnie, and their two children, 16-year-old Nancy and 15-year-old Kenyon. Novelist Truman Capote chronicled their crime in his book, "In Cold Blood" (1966). The book is considered historical fiction, because it includes conversations and actions that were not confirmed by either the killers or the police, however, many police officials familiar with the case believe it is fairly accurate. Born in Huntington, Nevada, his parents moved the family to Juneau, Alaska the following year, where the elder Smith brewed bootleg whiskey for a living. The father was abusive to his wife and four kids, and in 1935, Perry's mother left her husband, taking the children with her, and moved to San Francisco. Perry would spend his growing up years with a street gang, then in detention homes, until he was returned to his father. At 16, Perry joined the Merchant Marines, and two years later, joined the Army, where he served in the Korean War. At the end of three years, he left the military at Fort Lewis, Washington, and obtained work as a car painter in a local Fort Lewis shop. A motorcycle crash left him with permanently disabled legs. In March 1956, he was sentenced to Lansing Prison for robbing a store in Phillipsburg, Kansas. While in prison, he met inmate Dick Hickock and the two men became friends. Another inmate, Floyd Wells, told them about the Herb Clutter family, who supposedly kept a large sum of money in a safe at his isolated house in Holcomb, Kansas. Following their release from prison, on the evening of November 15, 1959, Smith and Hickock entered the Clutter house and at gunpoint, demanded the money from the family safe. When informed that there was no money and no safe in the house, the two men tied up each person in separate rooms for later questioning: Herb and Kenyon in the basement, Bonnie in her bedroom, and Nancy in her bedroom. They then executed the tied up Clutters, one at a time. Perry would later confess to doing most of the killing. Herb Clutter was tortured before dying, with his throat slit, and then killed by a shotgun blast to the front of his face. Son Kenyon was killed the same way. Wife Bonnie was killed by a shotgun blast to the side of her head, while Nancy had been killed by a close shot to the back of her head. The murders were discovered the next morning, Sunday, when family friends came over to the Clutter house, to join them in going to church. When prison buddy Floyd Wells remembered Hickock telling him of his plans to kill the Clutters for their money, and he heard about the murders on the radio, Wells promptly informed the prison warden. Smith and Hickock were quickly found in a stolen car in Las Vegas and returned to Kansas for trial. Smith was executed by hanging, at the Lansing Correctional Facility, Lansing, Kansas.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 12 Jul 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 23007
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Perry Edward Smith (27 Oct 1928–14 Apr 1965), Find A Grave Memorial no. 23007, citing Mount Muncie Cemetery, Lansing, Leavenworth County, Kansas, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .