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Investigators from the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office are hoping to travel to Kansas as soon as an order is approved by a judge to exhume the bodies of Perry Smith and Richard Hickock. They hope mitochondrial DNA evidence collected from the bones of the killers, who were executed by hanging in 1965, will help close a cold case that rattled Sarasota County.
On Dec. 19, 1959, the Walker family, including parents Cliff and Christine and their toddler children Jimmie and Debbie, were shot to death in their Osprey home.
Detective Kim McGath, who has been assigned to the Walker case for the past four years, said she decided to start from the beginning last year in investigating the case, and through her research developed a hunch that Smith and Hickock could be responsible. The men were briefly investigated in 1960, but were ruled out as suspects after passing lie detector tests.
It's possible the young family, who had been in the market to purchase a Chevrolet Bel Air, may have crossed paths with Smith and Hickock, who were driving a 1956 model and likely needed money, McGath said.
They were spotted several times in the Sarasota area the day of the murders, and after the Walker family was killed, one of the men was seen with a "scratched-up face," McGath said.
Physical evidence, long before the emergence of DNA testing, was also left behind, McGath said.
Christine Walker had been raped and semen was found in her underwear, she said, and there was a bloody cowboy hat.
And two suspicious hairs, which were inconsistent with the Walker family, were found in the home.
"There was a dark hair found in the bathroom, where baby Debbie was found in the bathtub, and a long blonde hair inside the dress of Christine Walker," McGath said.