by Sherry Stocking Kline
Nov 15, 2009
In 1959 The Clutter Murders Shattered Our Peaceful Life
There are times in your life when some event occurs and it changes your life in profound ways.
Fifty years ago, on November 15, 1959, when four members of the Clutter family were murdered in Holcomb, Kansas, it sent shock waves through our small community and especially in our farm home. And it changed the way our family lived and viewed the world.
We didn’t know them. In fact, we lived hours away from Holcomb. But that murder changed the way our family lived.
The Family Was Murdered for About $40.00…
What we heard on television and read in the newspaper, was that the farm family of four had been murdered for about $40.00.
I remember my parents, my dad and mom sitting at the kitchen table, faces somber, frightened looking even, and my father, saying “If people will murder a family for so little, they will do anything.”
(Later, we read that the murderers had heard in jail that the family kept a large amount of money at their home; but all we knew then was that an entire family had been brutally murdered for such a small sum.)
Murder was something that happened in far-away cities…
Murders like that were something you rarely heard of, they were something that happened in far-away large cities, not something that happened to Kansas farm families.
Up until then, our doors were never, and I mean NEVER locked, not in the daytime when we were gone, not at night when we were asleep.
Up until then, there was no need.
They were always locked at night after the Clutter murders.
Up until then, because the air conditioning we had wasn’t really that great, my folks would put beds and old Army cots out into the back yard on the hottest summer nights, and we slept under the stars.
And before the Clutter murder the only thing we worried about while sleeping outside was getting bitten by mosquitoes, and the only thing I worried about was whether the coyotes we could hear yodeling at each other in the distance would come closer.
We never felt completely safe again…
After the Clutter murders, a new fear, a new possibility had entered our lives and our minds, and that changed our lives.
The peace and safety that had been ours was gone. We never felt completely safe on the farm and we never slept in the yard under the stars again.
You can read more about the Clutter Family at the Wichita Eagle website here.