Part 4, Chapters 1–4 Summary
At the Finney County Courthouse, Dick Hickock and Perry Smith are placed in cells far enough apart that they are not able to communicate with each other. Perry is in what is known as the “ladies cell,” where female prisoners are kept. It is located within the apartment of the undersheriff and his wife, Wendle and Josie Meier. The cell is attached to the kitchen, so Mrs. Meier comes to know Perry well as she cooks. He strikes her as a pleasant young man—until her husband points out that he brutally killed four people and would be likely to do the same to her. Although many people expected a mob to form, the townspeople of Garden City show only intense curiosity.
Over the next few months, the snow falls almost every day. The only visitors Perry receives are KBI agents and his court-appointed attorneys. Dewey comes to have him sign his statement, but Perry refuses; he says there are a couple of things in there he wants changed. Originally, Perry had said that Dick killed Mrs. Clutter and Nancy, while Dick had said that Perry killed all four of the Clutters. Perry wants his statement changed to match Dick’s. He says he is doing this for the sake of Dick’s mother, whom he describes as a sweet woman. He tells the agents that he and Dick stopped and buried or burned the weapons, tape, and rope, which the police eventually recover. The radio and the binoculars they pawned in Mexico are also found.
The prosecutor for the state says he will seek the death penalty for both Perry and Dick no matter what. Perry is forced to take a lie detector test concerning the Walker murder, the family of four that was killed in a manner similar to that of the Clutters while Perry and Dick were in Florida. Mr. Hickock comes to visit Dick; he feels sure that his son will hang. Perry begins a correspondence with someone he knew in the army. Perry imagines that there are two men outside his cell window that he might convince to help him escape. He writes instructions to drop to them the next time they appear, but they never return. Perry begins to wonder if he is losing his mind. He dreams that he breaks a light bulb and uses the glass shards to cut his wrists and ankles. He dreams of a yellow bird; he has dreamed of this bird often all his life.