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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Nov. 15, 1972)
Continued from Page 1
"He just made up that ending, which didn't hurt
anything," Kidwell said, smiling. Susan didn't go to
the cemetery "she could've, it was plausible, but she
really didn't. I don't think she was even here."
Kidwell said she had not seen the movie. "I didn't
want to. I didn't think I could."
Many townspeople objected to the movie because
Herb Clutter had been widely respected and they felt
there was something unpleasant about making a film
of the tragedy.
"Did you ever meet Truman Capote?
I did, and that'd sour you on just
about anything. It was like shaking
hands with a dead fish."
A.E. Galloway, Holcomb school superintendent
since 1968, said of townspeople's objections:-"They
thought it was too bad that people were morbid
enough to make money over such a situation, and
that's what this film was for, to make money, as was
There were others who felt differently, he said.
"They saw a chance to get a part in the movie. It
was a curiosity. You don't see a movie crew out here
One souvenir of the film crew's visit hangs on a
pillar outside El Rancho Cafe-a framed photograph
of a scene from the movie in which actor John
Forsythe is sitting in a booth with a friend.
Tom Maestas and his family run the cafe. Maestas
said he thought Capote's book and all the sensation
were uncalled for.
He knew Herb Clutter-"everybody did"-and was
shocked like everyone else. But he sees no reason to
keep bringing up the tragedy.
You lose a good man, but you don't stop living.
When John Kennedy was killed, America didn't stop.
There's always someone to take their place," Maestas
Something Else, the town bar, still displays a
partially shattered sign protruding from its frame:
"Holcomb Club," a remnant of past years. Inside is a
pool table and jukebox, over which hangs a black
light. On the wood-panelled walls hang tapestries and
some "peace" and "love" posters.
Bartender Rufus Delgado serves 3.2 beer to
anyone over 1 8.
Delgado said the murders were particularly hard
on Bob Rupp, NancyClutteVs boyfriend and, at; first,
the principal suspect. ' ' ' '"
For a time, Delgado said, when Rupp walked into
the club, people stopped talking. He said he used to
work with Rupp, but that neither ever brought up the
Rupp is now married, has children and lives in a
mobile home west of town. He has a machine shop
near his home. Townspeople urge the curious not to
talk to Rupp about the slayings. They say he has been
Holcomb has been pestered by curiosity-seekers
for 13 years. After the movie, tourists' cars lined
Highway 50, which cuts through the northern part of
Holcomb, while people stopped in the cafe where the
actors had been, Delgado said.
The Clutter house can be seen from Highway 50
but can be reached only by driving through Holcomb.
"No trespassing" signs have been removed. They
The house and yard have not been kept up like
they were when the Clutters lived there. The pink
pain is fading and peeling (the house used to be
white). The yard is barren in spots and choked with
weeds in others. The garden is overgrown.
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There have been two owners since the Clutters
ived there. The first didn't last long.
"There were to many people going out to look at
the place that it just drove them away," one woman
The current owner lives in the house by himself
nd raises corn and cattle.
One Holcomb resident who did not care for
Capote or his reporting efforts is Mayor Wayne R.
Johnson. He has been mayor since the 3town was
incorporated in 1961.
Johnson lives next door to the new post office. He
is a stocky man with glasses and a broad smile.
Johnson said he was unhappy about the book, the
movie and publicity about the Clutter killings.
He hasn't read the book-"l wouldn't give 'em the
satisfaction." Nor has he seen the movie, which he
wishes hadn't been filmed in his town.
Johnson said he met Capote when the writer was
working on thebook, but was not impressed.
"Did you ever meet Truman Capote? I did, and
that'd sour you on just about anything. It was like
shaking hands with a dead fish."
He said the town used to get a lot of mail asking
for information about the slayings and their
aftermath, most of which was ignored.
There are some people involved who have not
ignored requests for information. Alvin A. Dewey, for
example. Dewey is a Kansas Bureau of Investigation
special agent who led the search for the murderers
and who is mentioned frequently in Capote's book.
His wife, Marie, said: "Alvin still gets letters,
mainly from students who are in classes where they're
studying the book and they want to know his opinion
and they want to know this and they want to know
"He answers ever one' she said, "because we have
boys and we know what imeans to them to get their
assignments completed, or if they write for
information, they want a reply."
Dewey works for a Production Credit Association
office across the street from the Finney County
Courthouse in Garden City, where her husband and
other investigators struggled to solve the crime and
where the killers eventually were tried, convicted and
sentenced to die.
She talked during her lunch hour over pizza and
iced tea in her Garden City home about the effects of
the murders and ensuing sensation on her and her
"Now, Truman felt some compassion
for Perry Smith because he could
relate his life to Perry's, to an
extent unhappy childhood."
Aside 'from the ""telephone calls 'and letters
requesting informatidh and the fact that they are now
close friends of Truman Capote, "it hasn't changed
our lives," she said. "The only bad thing about it (the
publicity) is that we are constantly contacted by
people asking questions. And you'd think after 13
years maybe people would be stopping. We'd like to
forget it like everybody else, but we can't."
Dewey talked about their friendship with
Capote-a friendship that takes them to Capote's
parties in New York and his retreat in Palm Springs.
"Our family has kind of become Truman's family.
We visit him in New York and we've gone to Palm
Springs. In fact, we've used his home fn Palm Springs
twice, when he wasn't even there.' He is a wonderful
person. He still calls once or twice a week," she said.
The Deweys were guests of Capote at a celebrated
masquerade ball he threw in New York in 1964.
"We were just treated royally," Dewey said.
"People think jet-set, you know, a bunch of snobs.
But you'll find people are no different, regardless of
who they are or how much money they have."
Dewey met Jacqueline Kennedy two years later at
a cocktail party thrown by Capote and recalled what
the former first ladytold her. "She said, 'Oh, Mrs.
Dewey, I've been so anxious to .meet you. I thought
of you so when I read the book, the suspense you
must have been in, the trying time it was.' "
Dewey said it was ironic, "I said to her, 'Well,
you're saying to me exactly what I feel about you
She was sorry for me in my position and I was feeling
sorry for her in her position."
Capote invited the Deweys to New York for the
premiere of In Cold Blood, something she said she
dreaded doing more than anything she ever had to do.
"I particularly didn't want to see the part where
they murdered the Clutters," she said.
A it turned out, the scenes with the Clutters were
brief aiiu uid not portray the murders.
Dewey said, '
wasn't as hard to see as I expected,"
'though I sat there trembling the whole
Dewey had only one major complaint about the
film. "What I didn't like about the movie, and we
told Richard Brooks (the director), is that he slanted
it so sympathetically toward Perry Smith. Now,
Truman felt some compassion for Perry Smith
because he could relate his life to Perry's, to an
extent unhappy childhood.
"But Truman said you come to the crossroad and
you can either make something of yourself, or go
down the wrong road-and that's what Perry Smith
chose to do."
She said that although Capote does not believe in.
capital punishment, he admits that if Smith or
Hickcck had ever been released, they would have
killed again-especially Smith.
Dewey said the time after the murders and before
the killers were executed took a heavy toll on her
"I thought the Clutters were four victifns and
Alvin was going to be the fifth, because he was on
trial for those six years and not Smith and Hickock.
Every time their attorneys took it to another court,
Alvin had to take the stand, and he was interrogated.
Smith and Hickock never took the stand.
n yt', .
While her husband was, investigating the murders,
Capote was conducting his own investigation.
"Some people thought, 'Oh well, you've become
good friends because Alvin gave him so much
information.' Well, that is not true." Dewev said.
"When Truman was here, Alvin didn't answer a single
question that he or Harper Lee had other than what
was given in the press conferences."
Harper Lee, author of "To Kill A Mcckingbird7v
orten accompanied Capote to Holcomb.
Dewey said Capote tried to coax her husband into
giving him inside information about the case. "He
would say, 'Well, I'm not a reporter; what I'm going
to do is going to be years later; you can talk to me.
Although Capote does not believe
in capital punishment he admits that
if Smith or Hickock had ever been
released, they would have killed j
again especially Smith.
But Dewey never gave the writer Inside information
and Capote was unaware of leads the investigators
were tracking down.
"He gave Alvin the nickname 'Foxy.' One time
iruman asked him a question and Alvin didn't tell
him yes and he didn't tell him no, so Truman said,
'You're just being foxy.' "
So Capote did his own investigating and got his
"He's always been proud of the fact that he'd be a
good detective," Dewey said, "and he would."
After the killers were apprehended, there was no
reason to keep the Investigation secret anymore, so
the Deweys then did talk to Capote. They have been
good friends since.
Friendship with Truman Capote is one pleasant
side-effect for some in Holcomb and Garden City of
what otherwise was an uncomfortable experience.
Reporters rarely come to Holcomb anymore.
Tourists are not so plentiful as before. Local
conversation has returned to ordinary things-how
good the harvest is, when they're going to hunt some
of those pheasant, how busy their children are with
Though the memories are still there, they have
been shoved to the backs of peoples' minds. It is
doubtful they will ever be completely forgotten. But
it townspeople ever ao rorget, it will be because
outsiders let tnem.
Wednesday, november 15, 1972
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