As I stated in the last issue, our history runs deep and began with our parent organizations, the Las Vegas Police Department and the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. This article will talk about two officers I knew and worked around: Ocie Pigford and Frank Macauley.
Some of you may have heard of or read Truman Capote’s 1965 book, In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences. What you may not know is that the two suspects were captured in Las Vegas.
Early on the morning of November 15, 1959, Herbert Clutter, a wheat farmer; his wife, Bonnie; their son, Kenyon; and their daughter, Nancy, were murdered in their home in Holcomb, Kansas. The suspects, Richard Eugene Hickock and Perry Edward Smith, two ex-convicts, entered the Clutter home through an unlocked door, in search of a safe they believed was hidden in the house. They woke, tied and gagged the family, then hunted for the safe that never existed. Intent on leaving no witnesses, they cut Mr. Clutter’s throat and shot him, then killed the rest of the family with gunshots to their heads. They left with less than $50 cash, an old radio and a pair of binoculars. They were headed out of Kansas.
Early on the evening of December 30, 1959, Hickock and Smith were at the Las Vegas Post Office, today the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement (Mob Museum), trying to pick up P# 13451 mail sent General Delivery. They were in a stolen 1956 Chevy.
Unseen by the killers, Officers Pigford and Macauley had spotted the car with an out-of-state plate and a JDLR (just don’t look right) Hickock standing next to it. They ran the plate through dispatch, and the answer was that it was a stolen car from Johnson County, Kansas. The officers settled in to watch for a possible second suspect. Shortly, Smith came out of the post office and got into the car. Both suspects were still unaware of the officers watching. Pigford and Macauley pulled up on the culprits and, at gunpoint, arrested two of the most notorious killers of that time.
Both men were extradited back to Kansas, where they stood trial and were convicted and sentenced to death. Five years later, on April 14, 1965, the killers were executed by hanging.
Had it not been for the two alert Las Vegas officers, the capture could have been long delayed at best, and other innocent people might have been killed.