Journalism and Mass Communications, College of


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A University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Journalism & Mass Communications in-depth report on the anniversary of journalist Truman Capote’s narrative endeavour, In Cold Blood.
Copyright 2005 University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Journalism & Mass Communications.


This year [2005] marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, considered one of the 20th century’s great works of literature. It also was among the first books in which the reporting techniques of journalism were assembled with the flair of traditional fiction writing.

The book is set in the community of Holcomb in 1959, when four members of a prominent farming family were killed in a fruitless robbery. Herbert and Bonnie Clutter and their children Nancy, 16, and Kenyon, 15, were shot by Perry Smith and Richard Hickock. The book details the crime, the lives of the two criminals and law enforcement’s search and eventual capture of the men.

A class of seven reporting students, a photography student and four documentary film students at the University of Nebraska– Lincoln spent the fall of 2004 studying Capote’s work and its impact on literature and journalism, the community where the story unfolded and some of its principal characters.

The students obtained exclusive interviews from people who had refused to talk publicly about the crime or the book, including Nancy Clutter’s boyfriend, Bob Rupp, who was the last to see the family alive and was initially questioned about the murders; Walter Hickock, Richard Hickock’s younger brother, who describes for the first time the agony the family endured after the crime and publication of Capote’s book; and the family that lives in the former Clutter home as well as exclusive photographs from inside the house. The results were printed first in Kansas in the Lawrence Journal-World, then in this magazine.

The book that changed a town by Van Jensen
Holcomb still deals with the pain and attention from Capote’s novel
The day his life changed forever by Melissa Lee
Bob Rupp maintains a resilient spirit through years of difficult memories
Sisters, family: Surviving a legacy by Patrick Smith
The surviving Clutter daughers hope to preserve their parents’ past
Brother, friends object to portrayal by Melissa Lee
Relatives object to the portrayal of Bonnie Clutter by Capote
Left behind by Suzanna Adam
Man lives a painful life in the shadow of his brother’s crime
In the end, just a home by Crystal K. Wiebe
A house with a history of murder finds new life
Author left mark on state by Crystal K. Wiebe
Book garnered Capote the attention he so craved
Capote’s guide by Crystal K. Wiebe
To Kill a Mockingbird author helped break the ice
Writing history by Van Jensen
Capote’s novel has lasting effect on journalism
Witness to execution by Michael Bruntz
Prison director Charles McAtee recalls killers’ final hours
Composite character becomes hero by Patrick Smith
A Kansas Bureau of Investigation agent’s story
An outspoken critic by Patrick Smith
Former prosecutor says Capote misrepresented him
Almost invisible by Patrick Smith
Garden City officer is forgotten in Capote’s book
Crime tech by Michael Bruntz
Technology might have helped solve the crime faster
Forgotten cop by Patrick Smith
kbi agent Harold Nye nearly disappeared from the text
Forgotten characters by Patrick Smith
Capote left some people out of his book
Adversarial relations by Amber Brozek
Law enforcement — media relations have changed
Death penalty by Suzanna Adam
Kansans continue to debate capital punishment
Beyond the fame by Amber Brozek
Holcomb has changed much since Capote visited
Too familiar by Michael Bruntz
Murder is reminiscent of the Charles Starkweather crimes

The articles from the Lawrence Journal-World are attached (below) as "Additional files."