In the book In Cold Blood, why was Perry convicted of premeditated murder? When does the text mention his wanting to kill the Clutter family?

1 Answer

apsherwood1's profile pic

apsherwood1 | In Training Educator

Posted on

Truman Capote's In Cold Blood is a riveting journey through the gruesome yet true tale of the murder of the Clutter family in Kansas. 

Perry Smith and Dick Hickock had both been recently paroled from the Kansas State Penitentiary when they decided to seek out the Clutter family. An old cellmate of Dick's had worked as a farmhand for Mr. Clutter and told Dick that Herb Clutter always kept lots of money locked in a safe in his house in Holcomb. Perry and Dick hatched a plan to drive across Kansas to break into the Clutter home, steal the money and leave no witnesses.

It is because of their intent to rob (and eventually kill) this specific family that it can be classified as premeditated. Though they may not have intended to kill the family when they first set out on the road, the fact that they tracked that specific family down, robbed, bound, gagged them and killed them, makes it first degree murder. 

Furthermore Perry felt especially guilty for killing the Clutter family. He wanted to claim responsibility for all four killings because he felt sorry for Dick's mother, who he thought was a nice woman. Perry did say later that Dick had killed Nancy and Bonnie, but refused to sign a confession. Dick, meanwhile, always maintained that Perry committed all four murders.