Travel Channel to feature museum, Clutter case

1/2/2014

By KELTON BROOKS

By KELTON BROOKS

kbrooks@gctelegram.com

The Finney County Museum will have a brief showing on the Travel Channel's "Mysteries at the Museum" in February.

Now in its fifth season, "Mysteries at the Museum" will focus on the Clutter murder case of 1959.

The show features up to six segments per episode, and focuses on artifacts, as well as the mystery that is connected to them. The program first aired in 2010 and has a 7.7 TV viewer rating, according to IMDb.

Times are subject to change, but the program is expected to air 8 p.m. Feb. 27. Viewers should consult listings for their specific services, but for most cable TV viewers who subscribe to Cox system in Garden City, the show will air on channel 62.

The Clutter Case involves the infamous murder of four members of the Herb Clutter family in Holcomb, who were "executed in cold blood" by two men, Richard Eugene Hickock and Perry Edward Smith. They had heard from a man in jail that the Clutter family had money stashed in a safe in the house. After the two men were released from prison, they devised a plan to steal the money, according to information from the Garden City Police archives.

After no safe was found in the home, the men killed Herb and Bonnie Clutter, their daughter, Nancy, and son, Kenyon.

Hickock and Smith were captured in Nevada and brought to Garden City, where they stood trial in Finney County District Court for the murders, and received the death penalty.

The murders drew national attention and led author Truman Capote to produce the acclaimed novel "In Cold Blood" in 1966.

"It's a very unhappy part of our history, but it's our history," said Steve Quakenbush, executive director of the Finney County Historical Society.

Quakenbush said the museum was contacted by an executive from the Travel Channel in July 2013, and a crew from the New York-based Optomen USA spent an entire day shooting footage for the segment in the museum's archive room, Leola Howard Blanchard Research Library, the Spirt of the Plains Gallery, and brief shooting of the exterior of the museum.

"We're excited about this even though it focuses on unpleasant history, but it will bring fairly widespread attention to Finney County and help bring positive attention to the cultural and natural history of the museum," Quakenbush said.

The beginning of the museum's segment will briefly feature exhibits and the exterior of the building, along with scenes in the community and from Holcomb. But a bulk of the time was devoted to an interview with Garden City police Sgt. Michael Radke, who provided two artifacts from the Clutter case.

"I'm interested to see how I will look on cable TV. Televisions do miracles these days," Radke said as he laughed.

Radke didn't want to give away what artifacts will be shown during the program, but did say the two artifacts were "very important" to the case.

Quakenbush said he doesn't know what people will think of the Clutter case as it's portrayed on the program, but he knows the negative appearance the case had.

He did admit he is anxious to hear the response once the program is aired.

"People thousands of miles away may not be familiar with the museum and its history, but for those who routinely watch the program, they will be surprised to see Garden City and Finney County on a national T.V. program," Quakenbush said.

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