10 Amazing Harvest Festivals from Around the World

Now that fall’s finally here, we’re finally able to get excited about celebrating all that comes with it. We’re saying goodbye to the long dog days of summer and hello to cooler temperatures, crisp breezes, and beautiful fall foliage. We’re more than ready to celebrate the fantastic bounty that comes along with every new fall as well.

What better way to kick off the season and partake in all things fall than a harvest festival? Every town, city, and region has its own take on such things, but some festivals really do break the mold when it comes to sheer noteworthiness. Let’s take a closer look at ten of our absolute favorites from all around the globe.

Dia de los Muertos – Mexico

While Dia de los Muertos (or Day of the Dead) is certainly celebrated in the U.S., especially by those of Hispanic descent, no place does this festival justice quite like Mexico itself. It’s a two-day affair honoring (and celebrating) the dead. Favorite ways to celebrate include parades, the eating of departed loved ones’ favorite foods, and more.

Diwali Festival of Lights – India

This ancient Hindu festival is largely unknown to North Americans, but is widely celebrated all across both Northern and Southern India. It’s all about celebrating the triumph of light over darkness and lasts five days. However, the biggest day of this November festival occurs on the darkest new moon night of the Hindu month of Kartika.

National Apple Harvest Festival – Pennsylvania, USA

If you’re planning on celebrating this year’s harvest in Pennsylvania, then this is a festival you won’t want to miss. It takes place in Arendtsville, the heart of Pennsylvania’s very own apple country. Enjoy seasonal activities like hayrides, apple bobbing contests, Native American dances, and more.

Cranberry Harvest Celebration – Massachusetts, USA

No New England harvest staple is more iconic than the cranberry, and this Wareham, Mass. festival certainly celebrates it in style. Check out everything from cooking demonstrations, to juried craft fairs, to demonstrations from local farmers. And, of course, you can stock up on plenty of fresh cranberries just in time for Thanksgiving!

Pushkar Camel Fair – India

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to see 50,000 camels all at once, and you’re a world traveler, then this is an option to consider. The annual camel fair most often coincides with the November full moon and includes a variety of activities and spectacles that are well worth witnessing.

North Carolina Pecan Harvest Festival – North Carolina, USA

If you’re one of the many people for whom fall tastes just like a perfectly baked pecan pie, then you’ll love the way North Carolina does harvest festivals. Whiteville’s Pecan Festival celebrates the humble pecan every year with a variety of events including parades, cooking demonstrations, and more.

Maine Harvest Festival – Maine, USA

Another must-see American harvest festival takes place every November in Bangor, Maine. It represents the perfect opportunity to sample local wines and beers, learn about the alpaca fiber industry, view live cooking demonstrations, and sample plenty of delicious New England fare.

Guy Fawkes Day – United Kingdom

“Remember, remember, the fifth of November.” That’s how the British celebrate the season – by commemorating the acts of the legendary Guy Fawkes. Popular ways to celebrate include everything from parties and get-togethers, to bonfires, to gatherings for the observation of the many firework displays that take place on this day.

Oktoberfest – Germany

Although Oktoberfest is celebrated all around the world, including here in America, nothing beats a visit to Munich itself for the iconic event. We’re talking sixteen fun-filled days of feasting, drinking, dancing, singing, and celebrating that has been in full effect since the tradition first began way back in 1810.

Battle of the Queens — Switzerland

In Switzerland, no harvest season would be considered complete without the Battle of the Queens. It’s an annual Valais festival that centers on a cow-fighting tournament. Each cow battles it out in order to establish the queen of the herd, with the winner earning the coveted title of “Queen of Queens.”

Of course, these are just a few of many memorable ways people from all over the world celebrate the bountiful harvest and the beginning of fall year after year. 

5 Surprising Benefits of Studying Regional Culinary History

If you’re an avid history and culture reader, then you’re already very familiar with the way books on your favorite topics can open up your world. They allow you to hear and appreciate the voices of people who have lived all sorts of lives all over the planet. They help you forge a connection between the world you know personally and the world as other people know it.

Books can help you become more connected to other aspects of everyday life as well, like the act of preparing, cooking, and eating our meals. That said, if you’re a reader and a foodie, it’s time you discovered your new favorite reading topic – regional culinary history. Here’s a look at some of the amazing things it can bring to your life.

1. You’ll discover how your favorite dishes and food cultures came to be.

You don’t have to be a culture buff or a foodie to know that a region’s local specialties are pretty much synonymous with the region itself. After all, can you really picture New England without also thinking about their famous lobster rolls? Would you really consider a visit to Philadelphia complete without eating a genuine Philly cheesesteak?

Regional culinary history lets you discover the fascinating backstories behind how our nation’s most beloved dishes, restaurants, and food cultures came to be the stuff of pilgrimages. Learn how Los Angeles became famous for its taco trucks. Discover how North Carolina’s signature barbecue style became famous the world over. Soak up local legends about New Mexico’s chili culture. The options are endless!

2. You’ll learn more about how we got to where we are today.

Culinary history isn’t just a great way to gain access to tons of riveting stories and mouthwatering tidbits about your favorite edibles. It’s also a way to gain a unique perspective on human history itself.

American culinary history books tell the story of how our society became everything that it is today. They let you in on the details of how people learned to live in harmony with the land and make the most out of indigenous ingredients. They even introduce you to the personal stories behind some of today’s most important restaurants, both local favorites and chains that made history. Explore any aspect of American history you like as it relates to food, drink, and restaurant culture.

3. You’ll develop a whole new level of appreciation for the food you eat.

As Americans become increasingly used to nearly unlimited information access, they’re becoming more interested in knowing more about what they eat. They want to know who grows it and where it comes from. They’re increasingly interested in concepts like farm-to-table dining and clean eating.

Studying the history of food in America will open your eyes to cooking and eating on a level you’ve never experienced before. You’ll marvel at the ways something as simple as a taco, a steak, or a stalk of broccoli is part of a bigger, richer story.

4. You’ll develop a better understanding of all America’s people.

America isn’t referred to as “the great melting pot” for nothing. It’s one of the most diverse countries in existence. It’s been home to immigrants from every corner of the globe since its earliest days. This is exactly how American cuisine came to be the eclectic entity that it is, with each region having its own signature take on cooking and eating.

A decision to delve more deeply into the history of food in America is a chance to get to know each of America’s unique communities, subcultures, and ethnic groups on an intimate new level. You’ll hear incredible personal stories. You’ll view hundreds of beautiful historic images. You’ll most certainly develop a new appreciation for all of the people that made America the wonderful place that it is.

5. You’ll get the chance to get to know your own home town or favorite region better.

Most people know quite a bit about the town where they grew up, as well as their favorite vacation destinations and points of interest. However, regional food history books can help you expand upon your existing knowledge and interest. Learn how your favorite childhood dishes and regional staples came to be. Learn about the industries that helped shaped the development of the place where you live.

Browse Arcadia Publishing’s extensive selection of regional interest books on food, drink, and restaurants throughout the history of America and discover a whole new aspect of American history. Explore the possibilities today!

10 of America’s Strangest Museums

Museums often conjure up images of dusty shelves and old artifacts, with signage encouraging patrons to be quiet. However, there are some museums who refuse to fit the mold – from vampire coffins to a collection of almost 1,000 ventriloquist dummies, we’re counting down the 10 strangest American museums we could find.

The Early History of Museums

While public museums are a relatively recent phenomenon, museums have existed in their earliest forms for centuries. The first museum is thought to be from the 5th century BCE, which was started and curated by a Babylonian princess in modern-day Iraq. It’s unknown if this museum would have been open to the public.

In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, most museums were actually people’s private collections of objects, which they would display only to selected visitors. It wasn’t until the late 18th century that museums were more widely opened to the public, and began catering to society’s needs.

Since then, however, museums have grown exponentially, and account for a large amount of the world’s tourism. Museums like the Met in New York City and the Louvre in Paris see millions of tourists each year, coming from all over the globe to view the galleries’ permanent collections. Perhaps this wide interest in museums is what has inspired some of these odd exhibition halls…

10 of the Weirdest Museums in the US

The Warrens Occult Museum: Located in Monroe, Connecticut, the Warrens Occult Museum was started by Ed and Lorraine Warren, a husband and wife team of paranormal investigators. Ed Warren was one of a few “religious demonologists” in the US, and Lorraine a self-proclaimed clairvoyant and medium. The two investigated some of the most well-known supernatural cases of the 20th century, including the haunting at Amityville, and the possessed doll Annabelle. These cases have inspired movies such as Annabelle and The Conjuring.

The Warrens’ work eventually led them to found the New England Society for Psychic Research (NESPR), and to open a museum with the artifacts they had collected during their travels. Their collection ranges from items like child tombstones reportedly used in satanic rituals and the original Annabelle doll to an organ that plays itself, and a “modern-day vampire’s” coffin. The museum is currently closed due to zoning issues, but will open to the public for special events.

The International Spy Museum: Those who wish to be James Bond might take a trip to Washington D.C., where they can visit the International Spy Museum. The museum was founded by Milton Maltz, who worked as a code breaker for the National Security Museum during the Korean War. Visitors to the museum can follow the history of espionage from the Greek and Roman empires to present, and the museum’s permanent collection pays special attention to the history of American espionage.

There are over 200 spy gadgets and technology artifacts on display in the museum’s permanent collection, and visitors can participate in several interactive exhibits to try their hand at being a government spy. The museum’s board of directors and advisory board includes many former CIA or NSA directors and officials, to help keep the experience as authentic as possible.

The Vent Haven Museum: Located in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, the Vent Haven museum is billed as the world’s only museum dedicated to ventriloquism. Vent Haven began as the private collection of William Shakespeare Berger. Berger purchased his first dummy in 1910, and continued collecting them until his death in the 1970s. His extensive period of collecting eventually led to erecting a second building separate from his home, simply to hold all of his dummies.

Towards the end of his life, William began to worry about what would become of his collection after his passing. These worries led Berger to turn his collection and other assets into a charitable foundation, thereby founding the Vent Haven museum. Today, the museum holds over 900 dummies, some of which date back to the 19th century. Visitors may visit the museum during a pre-scheduled tour, or on one of the museum’s “open-house” dates.

Bigfoot Discovery Museum: Just south of Felton, California, curious tourists can stop for a moment at the Bigfoot Discovery Museum, whose mission is to “educate the public with the facts about mystery primates around the world.” The museum, which opened in 2006, attempts to prove the possibility of the Sasquatch’s existence, and contains many artifacts in support of the mythological creature.

Visitors to the Bigfoot museum can see “casts” of Bigfoot footprints, a map of various Bigfoot sightings, and even the famous Patterson-Gimlin film, which was shot in the 1970s. The footage is considered to be the most conclusive evidence of Bigfoot’s existence, showing a tall, human-like figure walking in Bluff Creek, California. The museum is a free attraction that is open six days a week – visitors may also donate $25 to the museum to become an official museum member.

Museum of Bad Art (MOBA): Located in the Somerville Theater in Somerville, Massachusetts, the Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) was founded in 1993 with an aim to “bring the worst of art to the widest of audiences.” The museum capitalizes on this mission, marketing their collection as “art too bad to be ignored.” The permanent collection has approximately 600 pieces, 50-70 of which are on display at any given time, according to the museum’s website. The museum was inspired by one painting, entitled Lucy in a Field of Flowers, which was rescued from a trash bin in Boston. After the rescue of the painting, more “bad art” was sought out to complete the collection. Admission to the museum is free with a movie ticket to the theater.

The International UFO Museum and Research Center: When looking for close encounters of the third kind, stop off in Roswell, New Mexico, at the International UFO Museum and Research Center. The museum was partially founded by First Lieutenant Walter Haut, a public relations officer for the Air Force during the 1947 Roswell incident. Haut, who released the first report that the Air Force had found a “flying disc” that was later retracted, maintained until his death that he had seen alien bodies and debris during the incident.

At the museum, visitors can view several exhibits dedicated to the Roswell incident, as well as an extensive library on the presence of aliens and UFO’s. Admission to the museum is $5, and the museum is open seven days a week. While it is currently housed in a former movie theater, there are plans for the museum to move to a larger space in the future.

Museum of Death: Where can you view crime scene photos, a suicide machine, and the severed head of a serial killer all at once? The Museum of Death in Hollywood, California, is a good place to start. Founded in 1995, the Museum of Death espouses itself as a self-guided tour “to fill the void in death education in the USA.” It was originally located in a San Diego mortuary, but has since moved to Hollywood.

In addition to their more gruesome attractions, the museum also features the world’s largest collection of serial killer artwork, and admission to the museum costs only $17. If Hollywood seems a bit far away, don’t worry – the museum opened a second location in New Orleans, Louisiana in 2014.

International Banana Museum: If fruit is more your style, consider checking out the International Banana Museum, located in Mecca, California. While it’s not clear when the banana museum opened, it is claimed to have 20,000 banana-themed items, ranging from salt and pepper shakers to a banana-shaped record player. The museum is primarily the private collection of the museum’s owner.

In addition to all their banana-themed memorabilia, visitors can enjoy a drink at the “banana bar,” where they can try banana milkshakes, or banana soda ice cream floats. The museum also has different banana flavored treats. While the museum is typically open during the weekends, it’s recommended you call ahead before traveling out.

National Museum of Funeral History: Located in Houston, Texas, the National Museum of Funeral History is the country’s largest museum dedicated to the funeral service, and the practice of embalming. Founded in 1992, the museum was the brainchild Robert L. Waltrip, a leader in the funeral home industry. With over 30,500 square feet of exhibition space, the museum holds 14 permanent exhibits, which range from Egyptian embalming rituals to showcasing antique hearses. The museum’s main feature, however, is its exhibit Celebrating the Lives and Deaths of the Popes, which details the traditions of papal funerals. The exhibit was a collaboration between the museum and the Vatican, to provide as much authenticity as possible. Open daily, there is a small admission fee to tour the entirety of the museum’s collection.

The Circus World: Founded in 1954, the Circus World Museum celebrates the history of the Ringling Brothers Circus, and American circus history at large. The museum is located in Baraboo, Wisconsin, the former headquarters for the Ringling Brothers Circus, which was the largest American circus company until its closure in 2017. The museum is housed on the former Ringling grounds, which have been declared a National Historic Landmark. The museum’s exhibitions include circus items ranging from wagons and posters to hand bills and show advertisements.

In addition to its exhibitions, the museum also runs live circus performances throughout the summer season. The property also contains an extensive library, which claims to be the “world’s foremost research facility for circus history,” which in-person and online visitors alike can explore. Tickets to the museum vary depending on season, and it is open seven days a week to visitors.

Macabre Monday: The Case of the Servant Girl Annihilator

Cold cases are some of America’s greatest mysteries, fueling both societal imagination and horror with their often-complicated stories. But what exactly is a “cold case,” and what makes some so memorable? Read on to learn more about what defines a cold case, and the first of five mysterious cold cases that remain unsolved today!

So, what is a cold case?

In the most general terms, a cold case is a crime that has gone unsolved and has lacked any recent criminal investigation. More often than not, the term “cold case” is used to refer to violent felonies (such as murder, or rape), which are not subject to the statute of limitations that less severe crimes are. In rare cases, disappearances can be referred to as a cold case if the victim has been missing for a long enough stretch of time. However, the term most typically is applied to an unsolved murder case.

A major misconception with cold cases, however, is that they are closed investigations – this notion is untrue. In reality, cold cases are neither open nor closed investigations, but are instead in a type of stasis. This discrepancy is important, as it allows a cold case to be revisited when any relevant evidence (whether it be new eyewitness testimonies, a re-examination of files or material evidence, or a new suspect) can be presented. This distinction has been especially useful as forensic technology has improved in the 21st century, allowing many cold cases to be solved utilizing DNA evidence that was previously unavailable.

Little-known US Cold Cases

To date, there are at least 200,000 unsolved murder cases in the US, a large portion of which are marked as cold cases. This is especially true in larger US cities, where up to a third of all murders will go unsolved each year.  While a handful of these cases have garnered a large amount of public attention, such as the Black Dahlia murder, or the murder of JonBenét Ramsey, many have fallen to the wayside or have been overlooked entirely since their occurrence. For the next five weeks, we’ll be exploring some of the most heinous forgotten cold cases, starting this week with the Servant Girl Annihilator:

1884 – 1885: The Servant Girl Annihilator

Sometimes known as the “Servant Girl Killer,” the annihilator committed a series of eight axe murders in and around Austin, Texas. The “Servant Girl Annihilator” is known as one of the earliest serial killers of all time, predating even England’s infamous Jack the Ripper. His crimes occurred long before the concept of the serial killer had come into existence, however. His presence in the 1880s was such a morbid novelty to the police of the day that it was deemed impossible by both political and police officials alike to be the work of one man, or even one group of men.

Austin in the 1880s was only beginning to develop into the influential state capital it is today, with a population of between 11,000 and 14,000. A city on the very edge of the modern world, the Annihilator’s crimes catapulted Austin into the leagues of big-crime cities. His first victim, Mollie Smith, was murdered on December 30, 1884. A young African-American cook, Mollie was found in the Texas snow with a large axe wound to the head. She had also been stabbed in various other places, leading to a grotesque amount of blood loss.

The Annihilator’s crimes other crimes shared similarities with Mollie’s murder, with all of the victims (seven of whom were female) having large head wounds dealt by an axe. In the case of one of his last victims, Susan Hancock was dragged from the bed she had been sharing with her 16-year-old daughter, and was found with her head cleaved into two pieces. Many of the Annihilator’s victims were dragged from their beds alive, before being mutilated and left outside.

In total, the Servant Girl Annihilator murdered seven women and one man, who was the partner of a female victim. The case left Austin police scrambling, and several more policemen were hired, along with citizens forming a committee to patrol Austin’s streets at night. These efforts succeeded – the killer vanished without a trace, and the murders finally ended on Christmas Eve, 1885, nearly a year to the day after the murder of Mollie Cook.

However, authorities could not make up for the killer’s lack of a trail – eyewitness testimonies were often contradictory, describing the killer simultaneously as a dark and light-skinned man. In total, 400 different men were arrested at some point in connection with the killings, but none were ever convicted. Although there was some suspicion that a Malay cook, who left Austin just weeks after the last murder, may have been the killer, no substantial evidence has confirmed this theory. Today, the case remains one of the oldest unsolved murder sprees in US history.

The Macabre Monday Series will run for five weeks, featuring one cold cases each week! Check back next Monday for Part II of our series, the Little Lord Fauntleroy murder. If that’s just too long, check out our true crime titles!

Arizona Oddities: Exploring Arizona’s Urban Legends

One of the last states to be added to the Union, Arizona was once considered a mysterious place by early pioneers, where deserts mixed with mountains rich in gold. In Arizona Oddities: Land of Anomalies & Tamales, author Marshall Trimble explores some of the most famous legends of Arizona, from lost mines to the story of Santiago McKinn. Read on for an excerpt from his new book, and pre-order your copy today!

Arizona is a place that lives by its myths and legends. The wild, untamed country that lies between New Mexico and California was a dry, desolate, sunbaked land of jagged mountains and barren deserts. Early immigrants on their way to California claimed the wind was hot as a dragon’s breath, rattlesnakes were as big around as wagon tongues, cowboys heated their branding irons by pointing them at the sun and the rivers were so hot that when people jumped in to cool off they would emerge with third-degree burns.

But those same jagged mountains bore treasures of gold, silver and copper that were beyond a Spanish conquistador’s wildest dreams. Arizona was a diamond in the rough. In time, railroads would be built, the truculent rivers would be harnessed and air conditioning would be invented.

Seguaro National Park in Arizona.
Seguaro National Park in Arizona. Reprinted from Tucson by Jane Eppinga, courtesy of Saguaro National Park (pg. 10, Arcadia Publishing, 2015).

What do people like most about Arizona today? In a word…or four, open spaces and lifestyle. Arizona is the sixth-largest state in the nation. All of New England plus Pennsylvania and Delaware would fit inside its boundaries. Open spaces? Some 90 percent of the people live in just 2 percent of the land. There are ninety-two wilderness areas and thirty-two mountain peaks over ten thousand feet in elevation. The state boasts thirty-two state parks along with twenty-two national parks and monuments. In the wintertime, it’s possible to go snow skiing in the San Francisco Peaks in the morning and water ski on Saguaro Lake that afternoon.

Only one of the Seven Wonders of the World is a canyon, and that’s why Arizona’s official nickname is the Grand Canyon State. America’s two largest manmade lakes, Mead and Powell, border the state. Arizona is the only state that contains a part of all four of North America’s deserts: the Sonoran, Chihuahua, Mohave and Great Basin. The Sonoran Desert has the most diverse plant and animal life of all the deserts in the world. And thanks to such lofty mountain towns as Flagstaff, Williams, Alpine, Greer, Pinetop and Show Low, Arizona is only the eleventh-hottest state in the nation.

Arizonans like to call this place a land of anomalies and tamales because of the contrasts and contradictions that make the Grand Canyon State unique. For example, the first cattlemen were the Jesuit priests, who introduced cattle ranching in Arizona in the late 1600s, and the first “cowboys” were the mission Indians. The first great cattleman was a woman. Eulalia Elias ran the Babocomari Mexican land grant from 1827 to 1849. The namesake for America’s most famous lost mine, the Lost Dutchman, wasn’t a Dutchman, and he wasn’t lost. Jacob Waltz actually was a German. The Gunfight at O.K. Corral didn’t occur at the O.K. Corral. The storied fight between the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday against the McLaury brothers and Billy Clanton took place on Fremont Street between Fly’s Photograph Gallery and the Harwood House.

Petroglyphs at Saguaro National Park.
Petroglyphs at Saguaro National Park. Reprinted from Tucson by Jane Eppinga, courtesy of Saguaro National Park (pg. 11, Arcadia Publishing, 2015).

But wait, there’s more: the first white man to come to Arizona was a black man. Esteban was an African, scouting for the Coronado Expedition. He arrived in 1539. The Spanish colonial army commanding officer who founded the presidio in August 1775 that would become the city of Tucson was a red-headed Irishman named Hugo O’Conor. The Indians called him “Captain Red.” The first native Arizona cowboy movie star was a cowgirl. Dorothy Fay Southworth of Prescott headed out to Hollywood in the 1930s and was soon starring in western movies. In 1941, she married her favorite leading man, one of Hollywood’s most popular singing cowboys, Tex Ritter. She also was the mother of the late actor John Ritter. The world-famous Navajo Taco was invented in Window Rock by a Greek immigrant, and New York’s popular mayor from 1934 to 1945, Fiorello La Guardia, was raised in Prescott.

I can’t vouch for the veracity of this story, but it’s worth tellin’: Yuma County folklore says an old harridan by the name of Latrina Passwaterowned a ranch down along the Colorado River near Yuma. Her west pasture backed up to the river, which was known for changing its course without warning. She looked out one morning to find it had cut a new path around the east side of her place. A local newspaper reporter rode out and asked Latrina what she thought of becoming a Californian.

With a straight face, she replied, “That’s okay with me. I don’t think I could stand to spend another summer in Arizona anyway.”

Macabre Mondays: The Walker Family Murders

A neighborhood is always affected when a murder occurs, and one of their own has been lost to senseless violence. But the cold-blooded killing of an entire family can shake a community to its very core. This month, we’re exploring five of America’s little-known cold cases. Read on to learn about the Walker Family Murders, who were found brutally murdered in their home on December 20, 1959.

A Gruesome Discovery

The morning of December 20, 1959, started out as a normal day for Daniel McLeod. A ranch worker for the Palmer Ranch, McLeod started his morning by getting ready, and then travelling to the home of his coworker Cliff Walker. That morning, McLeod and Walker were due to go hog hunting. Pulling up to the Walkers’ small home in his truck, McLeod immediately found it odd that the house was dark, and relatively quiet.

Cliff, a 25 year old ranch hand, lived at a home on Palmer Ranch with his wife Christine and their two toddler children, Jimmie and Debbie. As a result, the entire family were typically early risers, and their house was typically a flurry of activity. McLeod knocked loudly at the door, believing that Cliff might have just mistakenly slept in. When he got no reply, he began to worry, and cut through the screen door to enter the home.

He was not prepared for what he found.

Directly in the doorway to the living room was Christine, lying in a pool of blood. She had been raped, and shot in the head. In a corner of the room were Cliff and Jimmie, who had both also been shot in the head. Debbie was nowhere to be found. McLeod quickly left to call the police, who searched the small home.

Debbie, not even two years old, was found shot and drowned in the family bathtub.

The Investigation

Investigators immediately began searching for clues into who may have wanted to harm the Walkers. A walkthrough of the house revealed that some key items were missing from the home: Cliff’s pocketknife, Christine’s high school majorette uniform, and perhaps most interestingly, the couple’s marriage license.

Actors Robert Blake and Scott Wilson during the filming of In Cold Blood, where they played Perry Smith and Richard Hickock respectively. Reprinted from Prisons of Cañon City by Victoria R. Newman (pg. 84, Arcadia Publishing, 2008).

Based on the missing items, investigators theorized that the Walkers’ killer must have known the couple, and was maybe even in love with Christine, given that she had been the first to be murdered. Suspects ranging from Daniel McLeod, who’d first found the bodies, to Elbert Walker, a cousin of Cliff’s with a violent streak were questioned. However, none of these interrogations led to any arrests, and the case slowly went cold.

Since the initial murder investigation, several ideas have been presented on what may have happened to the Walkers. One theory came from the confession of serial killer of Emmett Monroe Spencer. However, his confession was quickly discredited by the Sarasota County Sherriff’s office, who had previously branded Spencer a “pathological liar.”

The most prevalent theory for what happened to the Walkers, however, can be found in Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.

Holcomb, Kansas, 1959. In the early hours of a mid-November day, recently-paroled convicts Richard Hickock and Perry Smith entered the home of farmer Herb Clutter. They’d heard in prison that Clutter kept a safe with a large sum of money – money they decided would help fund a new life in Mexico. But all Hickock and Smith found within the Clutter home were the Clutters themselves. There was no money. In retaliation, Hickock and Smith murdered the entire family, include Herb, his wife, and two of their children.

There were many similarities between the Clutter and Walker murders. Both were quadruple homicides of full families, who were all shot in the head. Both homes also had items stolen in the wake of the murder. Even more damning, Hickock and Smith were in Florida just a month after the Clutters’ murders – putting them directly near the Walkers at the time of their murder.

Capote initially rejected that Hickock and Smith could have been responsible for the murders , citing what he believed to be valid alibis. Hickock and Smith also passed polygraph tests, which cleared them of the Walker murders. Today, authorities still believe that Hickock and Smith are the most viable suspects in the case, and in 2012, their bodies were exhumed for a DNA comparison to evidence from the crime scene. However, these test results came back as inconclusive.

Although it is probable that Hickock and Smith had something to do with the Walkers death, their motive for murdering the Walkers remains unknown. Unfortunately, these murders will most likely remain unsolved.