JCCC Stories

Professor featured in ‘Cold Blooded’ documentary

November 10, 2017


Corbin Crable shares his reporting with a national audience.

Tune in to the Sundance channel on Nov. 18, and you might see a familiar face in a documentary about the infamous Clutter family killings in Holcomb, Kansas.

Corbin Crable, Journalism coordinator for Johnson County Community College, is a featured interviewee in “Cold Blooded: The Clutter Family Murders.” 

Crable was interviewed because of a three-part series of articles he wrote for The Gardner News in 2010 titled “The Origins of Evil.” The series focused on one of the two killers, Richard “Dick” Hickcock, who was born in Kansas City, Kansas, and grew up in Olathe and Edgerton.

Recording history, before it’s too late

Crable knew that the 45th anniversary of Hickcock’s execution was approaching, yet he found that little had ever been written about Hickock’s early years here.

“People who remembered him are dying,” Crable remembered thinking. It was time for someone to interview them.

“Ray Braun owned a gas station in Edgerton and was the town sheriff when Hickcock was growing up,” Crable said. “It was fascinating to hear about this kid spray painting the side of a barn who would grow up to become a part of this incredibly violent act.”

As Crable predicted, sources did indeed pass away. Crable became a conduit so filmmakers could use these stories.

Interviewed on campus

The documentary crew set up in the Student News Center at JCCC, where Crable advises student journalists working on The Campus Ledger. His interview lasted 2-1/2 hours.

As a journalist, Crable was used to asking questions, not answering them.

“You don’t think about how exhausting it is until after it’s over. The filmmakers led me to share my answers in a certain way, asking the same question but in a different way,” he said.

The classic nonfiction book “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote details the supposed accounts of Hickcock and crime partner Perry Smith in the Clutter household in November 1959, but journalists have criticized Capote for the tactics he used to get the story.

“Cold Blooded: The Clutter Family Murders” will air over two nights, Nov. 18-19, at 8 p.m. Central on the Sundance channel.

Discussing ‘In Cold Blood’

Crable discusseds his ethical take on In Cold Blood at an upcoming Great Books Series presentation November 15, 2017. Crable also discussed the article series when he presented for a Kansas City Press Club presentation.

“The Clutter story has an appeal that crosses generations,” Crable said. “This story will always be associated with Kansas, for better or for worse, and it continues to have that appeal 60 years after the murders. I think what strikes people is that they were a normal American family. They could have been any one of us.”

Filmmaking or writing in your future?

Interested in learning more about journalism opportunities at JCCC? Contact Mark Raduziner, Journalism professor and chair, at 913-469-8500, ext. 3131.

Ready to make your own documentaries? Contact Tonia Hughes, associate professor of Film and Photography, at 913-469-8500, ext. 3649.