Part 3, Chapters 19–24 Summary

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Perry’s story is vague; he feels too shaken to remember the details of what he and Dick had decided to say should they ever get caught. Alone in his cell, he worries that Dick will break and tell everything. That afternoon, in another round of questioning, Perry admits that the story of going to Fort Scott was a lie to fool Dick’s parents, who did not want him to leave town and break parole. Dick breaks and says Perry killed the Clutters. He passes out as he leaves the cell.

The people of Holcomb feel relief when they hear news of the arrest. They wait for the return of the prisoners, who are being driven back from Nevada.

In the car, Perry gives his account of what happened. As they drove up to the house, there was no sign of anyone, not even the Clutters’ dog. The office door was open, and the two killers found Mr. Clutter’s bedroom. They demanded that he open his safe for them, but Mr. Clutter insisted that he did not have a safe. Dick and Perry took Mr. Clutter to the basement and tied him up. Perry placed the cardboard box on the floor so Mr. Clutter would not have to lie on the cold cement. Dick went through Mr. Clutter’s billfold but found only a few dollars. Mr. Clutter begged Perry to leave his wife alone; he said she has not been well for years. Perry took Mrs. Clutter to the bathroom and locked her in. He got Kenyon out of bed and locked him in, too. Perry looked around the house and found a few more dollars. He took the radio and also a pair of binoculars. After he tied up Mr. Clutter, he brought down Kenyon and tied him to the pipe. Then he decided Kenyon might escape, so he took him into the other room and tied him to the couch. He looked for Dick and found him sitting by Nancy on her bed. He told Dick to go look for the safe, fearful that he would molest Nancy. While Dick looked for the safe, Perry talked with Nancy. Then he and Dick tied up Mrs. Clutter, who begged them not to hurt her children. Out in the hall, Dick told Perry that he planned on raping Nancy, but Perry said Dick would have to kill him first. Perry went down to Mr. Clutter and told him that it would soon be morning and someone would find them. Then he cut Mr. Clutter’s throat. When Dick came down, Perry told him to finish Mr. Clutter off, but Dick could not do it, so Perry shot him. He then shot Kenyon. Perry claims that Dick shot Nancy and Mrs. Clutter, though Dick says Perry killed all four. Perry says all the money they found in the house was between forty and fifty dollars.

When the murderers are returned to Garden City, the authorities fear a mob or even a lynching. Instead, the crowd is silent, shocked to find that the killers look so human.

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Part 3, Chapters 13–18 Summary


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