Floyd Wells

Does anyone know what happened to Floyd Wells or Willie Jay from "In Cold Blood"?

Expert Answers
linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You might say that Floyd Wells planted the seed that grew into the plot to murder the Clutter family. He was the prison cellmate who told Dick Hickock about his time working on the Clutter farm and how Mr. Clutter kept thousands of dollars in his home safe. When he got out of prison, Hickock and Perry Smith decided to steal that money and leave no witnesses. There didn't get the money, but they did kill the family.

When he heard about the Clutter murders, Wells, who was still in prison, felt guilty about talking to Hickock and informed the warden about what happened. He cooperated with the FBI, who had no suspects. Wells collected a $1,000 reward and early release from prison for his information.

Willy Jay was a fellow inmate and assistant to the chaplain at Kansas State Penitentiary. Perry Smith looked up to him as a mentor and greatly admired him; their relationship may have been more intimate. There is some speculation that Capote, the author of "In Cold Blood," invented this character. I have not been able to find any other information about him.

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justice7 | Student

According to the Garden City, KS, Police Department, Floyd Wells went back to jail for 30 years after being convicted of Armed Robbery. He was subsequently killed during a Prison break in Mississippi. Karma? I think so because his big mouth set the stage for the horrific event at Holcomb in the first place! 

ripperchaser | Student

After the famous trial of Smith and Hickock for the Clutter murders, Floyd Wells, as was his destiny, ended up back in prison on a 30 year hitch for armed robbery.  This was 50 years ago, so he's probably dead now.  I have always suspected that Willie Jay was a character invention.  Nothing is known of his life before or after 1959 except what was written about him by Truman Capote in 'In cold blood.'  Google search the photos taken of Smith and Hickock by Richard Avedon in April 1960. Scary to think of these guys in your house with weapons.