Topeka A judge has blocked the sale of investigative records and photographs related to the 1959 murders of the Clutter family, which became the subject of Truman Capote's true-crime novel "In Cold Blood."
Shawnee County District Judge Larry Hendricks entered a temporary restraining order to stop the sale of the items while their legal ownership is determined, Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Monday.
The attorney general’s petition also seeks to stop any reproduction, publication, distribution or sale of the same photographs, files, and reports.
It asks the court to declare that the state of Kansas is the owner of the files and records relating to the murders of Herb Clutter, his wife and two of their children in Holcomb and to order the return of the materials to the state's custody.
“The crime scene and autopsy photographs and the criminal investigation case materials are clearly the property of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and should not be auctioned off, particularly for personal gain,” Schmidt said.
“It is important for these materials to be returned to the state of Kansas for the protection of the integrity of the records and out of respect for the Clutter family,” he said.
The files were kept by Agent Harold Nye include notebooks and crime scene photographs.
An auction had been opened in July 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. The auction had opened at $20,000.
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.