The two men being held in connection with the Clutter family murder at Garden City were sought in this area for three weeks.
Both the Sheriff's Office and the Police Department had been alerted to pick up Richard Hickock, 28, of Edgerton, and Perry Edward Smith, 31, of Las Vegas, on sight. Hickock has admitted the slaying, but Smith still has not signed a confession, Kansas Bureau of Investigation officers said.
The Journal-World learned last Thursday that the two men picked up in Las Vegas probably were the pair who killed four members of the prominent Garden City family. However, news sources were asked not to reveal the story at that time, since it might hinder the investigation under way in Las Vegas.
A former employee of the Clutter family signed a statement earlier that had implicated both Hickock and Smith. The employee was not involved in the robbery attempt or the murders.
The two were arrested in Las Vegas on a parole violation charge. When the arrest was made, Las Vegas police knew the KBI wanted the pair in connection with the Clutter family murder.
Sheriff Dale Chappell had alerted his force to be on the lookout for the pair, and to make the arrest on sight. "We were pretty sure then they were the Clutter family killers," Sheriff Chappell said.
When newsmen learned of the arrest of Hickock and Smith in Las Vegas, they were asked to withhold the story until after Kansas Bureau of Investigation officers had finished questioning the pair. "We know they are the ones we want, but we can't say it just yet," one local law enforcement officer said.
"They are wanted for parole violation and questioning," an officer said. "But there is no doubt about it, they are the pair who killed that family."
The two men had planned the robbery in the presence of the former employee. However, the employee said murder wasn't part of the plan.
Apparently, Hickock and Smith "blew up" when they couldn't find a large sum of money that was supposed to be in a house safe, officers said. It was then the pair decided to murder the family to do away with all witnesses.
The employee said he made his statement because of the killings.
"I thought very much of the family," he said.