Files from ‘In Cold Blood’ investigation auctioned

? Case files belonging to a Kansas Bureau of Investigation agent who investigated the 1959 murders that became the subject of Truman Capote’s true-crime novel “In Cold Blood” are being auctioned off.

Past coverage

See the Journal-World’s past coverage of “In Cold Blood,” including stories from our 2005 series that delved deep into the crime that shocked the nation.

Agent Harold Nye’s files pertaining to the murders of the Clutter family in Holcomb include notebooks and crime scene photographs that have never been seen, The Garden City Telegram reported Thursday.

The sealed bid auction is being conducted by Vintage Memorabilia, a Seattle-based auction company specializing in film and literature relics. Capote’s book inspired a movie of the same name.

Vintage Memorabilia President Gary McAvoy said Nye’s son, Ronald Nye, of Oklahoma City, gave him the materials for the auction a few months ago.

“Our focus was to tastefully auction the lot off as something historic,” McAvoy said. “Both Ron and I did not want to exploit the family, but it is part of the history and has to be passed on.”

The auction opened at $20,000, and McAvoy said he expects the lot to go for at least twice that amount by the time the auction closes Aug. 31. So far, no bids have been received, but McAvoy said collectors often research such auctions before making bids.

McAvoy kept the photographs small in the auction presentation to obscure the grisly details.

“The crime scene photos have never been released before by any entity, and we would prefer they not be,” McAvoy said.

The files are being auctioned off as a single lot to preserve their historical value, he said.

The items also include letters from Capote to Nye. In one of the letters, Capote complained after the executions of convicted killers Richard “Dick” Hickock and Perry Edward Smith were postponed, saying he wanted to finish the book and put it behind him.

The lot also includes two copies of “In Cold Blood,” with one that is signed by Capote, members of the investigating team and members of the film crew.

McAvoy said he also recently acquired Smith’s prison diaries. He said a presentation and auction will be scheduled later.