Kansas judge blocks auction of "In Cold Blood" records

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 02, 2012 5:08 PM
Kansas judge blocks auction of "In Cold Blood" records

By Kevin Murphy

KANSAS CITY, Kansas (Reuters) - A Kansas judge has temporarily blocked the auction of some documents from the investigation of the 1959 murder case that inspired the best-selling book and movie "In Cold Blood."

Relatives of Harold Nye, one of the investigators in the brutal murders of a family in Holcomb, Kansas, planed to auction them.

But Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt last week asked a district court to block the auction and a Shawnee County judge issued a temporary restraining order, the attorney general's office said on Monday.

"The criminal investigation case materials are clearly the property of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and should not be auctioned off, particularly for personal gain," Schmidt said in a statement.

A jury convicted Dick Hickcock and Perry Smith of murdering Herbert Clutter, his wife and two children. Hickcock and Smith were executed in 1965.

Nye rose to become director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation between 1969 and 1971. He died in 2003. Nye was a source for Truman Capote's book, which became a movie in 1967.

According to the lawsuit, Nye's son, Ronald Nye, said that in the late 1950s his father copied the records at state offices where they were stored. He ended up with 14 boxes of notes and other records created in the investigation, the lawsuit says.

State officials were not aware the Nye family had the records until July when they read stories about plans to put Nye material up for auction, the lawsuit says.

Vintage Memorabilia of Seattle owner Gary McAvoy, whose auction house was named in the court filing, said the records in dispute are two personal notebooks Harold Nye kept during the investigation. He said other records the state cites in the lawsuit have long ago been made public in various places, although Kansas is still seeking to prevent their sale.

"They (the notebooks) are not up for auction," McAvoy said on Tuesday. "They are in a vault until the court settles this situation." McAvoy said.

(Editing by Greg McCune and Cynthia Osterman)