🔓 The Killers' Journey
Travel with Perry Smith and Richard Hickock in their black 1949 Chevrolet Fleetline as they made their fateful 400-mile trip across Kansas from Olathe to Holcomb, where they brutally murdered the Clutter family. To learn more about what happened afterward, read And Every Word Is True.
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Return Trip After The Crimes
According to In Cold Blood, it took Richard Hickock and Perry Smith eight hours to drive west from Olathe, near Kansas City, across the state to Holcomb, a small village outside Garden City. After leaving Olathe at 4PM and making several stops for supplies, they arrived at the Clutter’s house around midnight on November 14, 1959. If we are to assume that timeline, here is an approximate breakdown:
Olathe To Holcomb As Stated In Smith & Hickock Interviews:
4PM: Hickock and Smith left Olathe, taking Highway 50 West, then Highway 56 down to Emporia. They made 4 stops (to buy cord, tape, stockings, and gas) then took Highway 50 southwest to Garden City.
12AM: The killers arrived at the Clutter home. They entered house, searched for the safe, then murdered the family, staying for about an hour overall. (In his letters Hickock wrote “The murders only took 10 minutes.”)
TOTAL TRIP = 8 HOURS
Return Trip From Holcomb To Olathe As Stated In Interviews:
1AM: The killers left the house, then drove 45 minutes north toward Scott City to bury some of the evidence. They stopped briefly at an unknown location to burn Perry’s bloody clothing, ultimately arriving back in Olathe at 12PM.
TOTAL TRIP = 11 HOURS
The timing here is wrong. What accounts for those 3 extra hours on the return trip? In his letters, Hickock does say they stopped at an all-night diner, but he couldn’t remember where. As readers of the book know, we believe this to be the Western Cafe in Cimarron.
Return Route As Speculated Based On New Documents:
1AM–2AM: The killers left the house, then drove 45 minutes north toward Scott City to bury some of the evidence. They stopped briefly at an unknown location to burn Perry’s bloody clothing, the headed south to Cimarron.
2AM–3:30AM: Hickock and Smith arrived at the Western Cafe in Cimarron for a meeting with “Roberts,” ordering burgers but leaving before the food was ready when they saw Night Marshall Voelker in the cafe (as reported by witnesses).
3:30AM –12PM: Hickock and Smith left Cimarron, arriving in Olathe by noon.
TOTAL TRIP = 11 HOURS