The "In Cold Blood" murder house is for sale
Sq. Ft.: 3,600
Sq. Ft. Bsmnt.: 1,700
Style: 2 Story
Lot Size: Approx. 7 acres
Garage: Double Detached
Agent- Sue Wieland- 353-4741
About the Property
The Clutter home was built in 1948 on a tract of land known as the "River Valley Farm" west of Holcomb, Kansas.
The home was designed with many custom features popular at the time. Original hardwood floors are throughout the
main and second floor of this brick two-story home. The living room features a wood-burning fireplace and the formal
dining room has a built-in china hutch. The sunny breakfast nook with dining bench boasts the original fabric. Block glass
and ceramic tiles create a unique main floor bathroom.
This beautiful home designed by Herb Clutter with family in mind offers 5 bedrooms, three baths, a large utility room,
spacious kitchen and unfinished basement with a second fireplace. The utility room and basement provided ample space
for the children to work on 4-H projects and school activities. The office has a separate entrance and the original built-in
storage and display shelves. The home has approximately 3,600 sq. ft. on the main and second level as well as
approximately 1,700 sq. ft. in the basement. Approximately seven acres (more or less) will be included in the sale and will
be determined by a survey.
The detached two-car garage and large quonset are also included in the sale.
REMARKS: Home is on a water well and has a septic system and is currently on free gas with BP. Seller will convey to
Buyer whatever rights Seller has to free gas.
This information is simply an approximate guide; any person that relies on this information and considers it material to the
purchase is to satisfy themselves as to its accuracy and conditon of the structure including fixtures and appliances.
:S Stories in the news
"In Cold Blood" home doesn't receive high enough bid at auction
HOLCOMB, Kan. - An auction of the home where the Clutter family murders occurred has been called off after the owners
did not receive a high enough bid.
The private auction closed Tuesday after nearly two months of bidding, said Sue Weiland, sales associate for Faulkner
The highest bid on the home and seven-acre property made infamous by Truman Capote's book, "In Cold Blood," was
$100,000, Weiland said, and the home's owners did not accept that bid.
The Finney County Appraiser's office said the home itself has an appraised value of $136,530; with the acreage, the
appraised value is $160,390.
The next step for the current owners, Donna and Leonard Mader, is unclear, Weiland said.
The home is where Herbert Clutter and his wife and two children were found dead on Nov. 15, 1959, a crime immortalized
in Capote's book.
The killers, Richard Hickock and Perry Smith, believed the Clutters kept a safe full of money in their home. But after killing
the family, Hickock and Smith left the home with only $50. They were convicted and hanged in 1965.
The Maders bought the home in 1990 from Bob Byrd, the first to own the home after the Clutters' deaths. Herb Clutter
built the two-story farmhouse in 1948.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Faulkner Real Estate
1015 N. Arapahoe
Ulysses, KS 67880
The Clutter House, featured in Capote’s In Cold Blood, is up for Sale
Holcomb, KS – August 29, 2006 – The Clutter House, a national historic home and the basis of the book, In Cold Blood,
written by Truman Capote, is currently being offered for sale by Faulkner Real Estate.
The Clutter House was the scene of a grisly murder in 1959 in Holcomb, Kansas. The house’s original owner, Herbert
Clutter, was found dead, along with his wife and two teenaged children early one fall morning. The house has since
gained even more national attention by being the focus of Truman Capote’s book, In Cold Blood. The story of the Clutter
House has also been memorialized on screen with two movies, the first actually being shot in and around the Clutter
The house is currently owned by Donna and Leonard Mader. The Maders’ took ownership of the house in 1990, and are
the third owners of the historic Clutter House. One of the Maders’ neighbors, Sonnie Baird, states, “It’s like the Amityville
Horror House in New York, or J.R. Ewing’s house outside Dallas.”
Faulkner Real Estate in Ulysses, KS is currently handling the sale of the Clutter House. The sale is offered as a “Private
Auction,” a sales method developed by Mark Faulkner. Faulkner Real Estate has been in business for over 20 years, and
offers residential, commercial, and agricultural real estate. For more information on Faulkner Real Estate, please visit:
You may view the house online at EBay or Faulkner’s web site: www.faulknerrealestate.com
Clutter home gets bids
Auction spurs only two offers for property that once belonged to Clutter family members
who were murdered in 1959
By the News Staff
Efforts to auction the Clutter home outside Holcomb didn't net an acceptable bid, according to Sue Wieland, the real
estate agent helping sell the structure.
However, owners Donna and Leonard Mader, who happen to be Wieland's parents, are negotiating a possible sale with
one of the bidders.
The Clutter home is the site of the infamous 1959 slayings of Herb Clutter, his wife and two of their children
made famous in Truman Capote's book "In Cold Blood."
The Maders, who farmed the area, bought the two-story rural residence in 1990, but now they are planning to move into
Holcomb because the home is bigger than what the elderly couple needs. Accordingly, Faulkner Real Estate of Ulysses,
Wieland's employer, sought bids on the home and the acreage around it through Tuesday.
Wieland said only two offers came in, the highest one $100,000. She said the Maders will see how the ongoing
negotiations go with the bidder who remains interested and decide from there what to do.
The Clutter home covers 3,600 square feet on the main and second levels, while the basement totals another 1,700
square feet. Some seven acres of land, including a Quonset hut and detached garage, would be included in the deal.
According to the Finney County Appraiser's Office, the home and the 3.31 acres it sits on have an appraised value of
Richard Hickock and Perry Smith, drawn to the Clutter home by a mistaken tale of riches to be found inside, were
convicted in the 1959 killings and hanged in 1965.
10/20/2006; 02:36:19 AM
Few bids trickle in for Clutter home auction
HOLCOMB (HNS) - After 16 years living at the Clutter home, where four people were murdered in 1959, Donna and
Leonard Mader are ready to sell the digs and move into town.
The home, on the outskirts of Holcomb, is the site of the infamous slayings of Herb Clutter, his wife and two of the
couple's children. But the house has become too much for the Maders, now retired.
"The house is just bigger than they need," said Sue Wieland, the elderly couple's daughter. "They're just wanting to scale
Bidding started via a "private auction" last April - would-be buyers phone in what they're willing to pay - and offers will be
accepted until Oct. 17.
Chris Faulkner with Faulkner Real Estate, the Ulysses firm handling the sale, said he's fielded calls from across Kansas
about the property, even an inquiry from someone in Toronto interested in converting the place into a bed and breakfast.
However, only a few bids have trickled in, the latest and highest being $100,000, though Faulkner suspects activity will
pick up as Oct. 17 nears.
"We've had a lot of interest, not a lot of bids yet," Faulkner said.
The Clutter home is on the southwestern outskirts of Holcomb, near the bed of the Arkansas River. Herb Clutter built the
house in 1948 and there, he, wife, Bonnie; daughter Nancy, 16; and son Kenyon, 15, died at the hands of Richard
Hickock and Perry Smith.
The two men broke in one evening in November of 1959, mistakenly thinking Herb Clutter kept a safe full of cash there.
They found nothing of the sort, killed the family and were later hanged for the crimes. Truman Capote wrote a best-
selling book, "In Cold Blood," about the case and the events inspired two movies, most recently "Capote" last year.
Even today, nearly 47 years after the grisly deeds, the home draws curiosity seekers, anywhere from five to 25 per
"There are always cars, somebody coming down the lane," said Wieland, a sales associate with Faulkner. "They just
stop, look at the house, maybe take a picture, then they just leave."
In light of such notoriety, the Maders decided to sell via auction to tap into a broader pool of would-be buyers and to prod
the process along more quickly. Faulkner says the 5,300 square-foot home, a Quonset hut, a detached garage and the
seven acres of land on which it all sits probably has a market value of $200,000 to $300,000, but he dreams of a seven-
Whatever the case, the pending move isn't without its bittersweet element. Leonard Mader farmed the land around the
Clutter house for many years before buying the home in 1990 from Bob Byrd.
"It's going to be hard for my parents," Wieland said. "It's been a nice place for them to live."
And though she has sometimes tossed and turned the few times she's stayed over - mainly because of the late-night
traffic the site sometime draws - Wieland dismisses any suggestion the structure is haunted.
"Really," she said, "it is a nice old farmhouse."
In the end, just a home
A house with a history of murder finds new life
By Crystal K. Wiebe - Special to the Journal-World
Wednesday, April 6, 2005
Space is one of the things Donna Mader likes best about her house.
So much in fact, that when she moved there in 1990, she hardly knew how to fill it all. Having been cramped with six
children into a smaller place on the main highway for years, Donna simply didn't have enough stuff. Possessions have a
tendency to accumulate, though, and over time, Donna and her husband Leonard, a retired farmer with a broad face,
have managed to settle in. His vitamin bottles have gathered in the corners. Her snow village collection has colonized
parts of the living room, office and upstairs hallway. Pictures of their 15 grandchildren, some of whom often sleep over,
Along with the extra closets and bedrooms in this house came something else, a lingering history. The Maders own the
house on Holcomb's southwestern edge, at the end of a long drive lined with dying Chinese elm trees, but the place will
always be synonymous with another name: Clutter. The story of a family killed there 45 years ago draws strangers to the
doorstep, driveway and telephone, constantly reminding the Maders that their home will never be only theirs.
The couple looks at the Clutter legacy with ambivalence. Although they resent their ever-violated privacy, they speak
glowingly of the interesting people they've met because of it. In one instant, they talk of turning the house into a bed and
breakfast; in another, they look forward to the prospect of selling it on eBay.
Respectful of the structure's original inhabitants, the Maders have maintained many of the house's original features and
décor. Bench seats in the breakfast nook in the kitchen retain their original blue vinyl covering. Wood paneling on the
dining room walls and the carpet the last owners laid over the oak floors have been removed. But the frame-and-brick
house is hardly a shrine to an old tragedy. It's a warm setting for lives that go on, a place for a sprightly, graying farmer's
wife to hold evening card parties and holiday noodle-making sessions with her grandchildren.
A house on the plains
In his 1965 book, "In Cold Blood," Truman Capote described the house Donna and Leonard Mader now live in as "a
place people pointed out."
Donna Mader cuts and presses homemade dough for noodles with her young assistant, Bryce Druessel, the son of her
son's fiancé. They're sitting on blue naugahyde upholstery installed by the Clutter family.
"Situated at the end of a long, lanelike driveway shaded by rows of Chinese elms, the handsome white house, standing
on an ample lawn of groomed Bermuda grass, impressed Holcomb," Capote wrote.
Still an impressive structure by the town's standards, the two-story farmhouse was an architectural anomaly on the plains
of southwestern Kansas when it was built in 1948 for $40,000.
Forty-five years later, the property shows signs of major change. Some are harsh: No Trespassing marked along the
lane, proud elms withered by a prolonged drought. Behind farm equipment sheds, another original structure sags. The
Stoecklein house, named after the resident hired hand who didn't hear the gunshots the night the Clutters were killed,
decays into the ground, a favorite target of local graffiti artists. Other evidence of time's passage is more benign: the
white house re-sided in mauve, a trailer moved next to it and painted to match.
Sitting on a huge expanse of grass, the Maders' spacious home appears dwarfed from the outside. But Herb Clutter's
highly personalized design features 14 rooms, including two bathrooms, an excess unheard of at a time when not
everyone in the area had running water, Donna says.
In the office, she begins a tour she's given hundreds of times, noting the absence of a safe then and now.
The idea of a safe is what brought two killers into the house in 1959. Hardly seeming the serious place of business
Capote described, the room still contains a desk and chair. Dozens of glossy school photos of her grandchildren and
great-grandchildren hang framed on the walls.
Passing back through the living room, by one of the home's two wood-burning fireplaces, Donna heads for the master
bathroom and Herb Clutter's, now her, bedroom.
Especially elegant, the bathroom is original, Donna boasts. Pink tiles line the walls; white and brown ones alternate along
the floor. A translucent blue tile divider separates the tub and toilet.
Donna goes next to the basement, where two murders occurred, casually drawing attention to a rusty stain on the wall,
near where Herb Clutter's body was found.
"This is supposed to be blood," Donna says.
Once a meeting place for 4-H clubs and a space for a boy's carpentry projects, the main area of the basement is still a
playroom, now for tots and teens. The floor has been littered with toys and sleeping bags, Mader grandchildren romping
in the same spot Kenyon Clutter was killed, sitting at the Clutters' picnic table, which Kenyon might well have helped build.
Hurrying the procession along, Donna climbs back into the kitchen and the heart of the house, where she pauses long to
Her reverence for Clutter's personal design shines through most here, where she believes he had his wife and three
daughters in mind. Grateful of his foresight herself, Donna stores her forks and knives in pre-partitioned silverware
drawers and sweeps dust into a floor chute ingeniously located behind a small, metal door on one end of a cabinet.
Genuine delight crosses her face when she asks her guests to guess the purpose of a piece of wood she pulls from
between two drawers. Having stumped another set of visitors, she explains that, too low to be a cutting board, it's a step
for little girls who are too short to reach the highest cabinet.
Donna finishes the tour in the lavender-scented upstairs, where two more murders once took place.
The lane leading to the old Clutter home at River Valley Farm is still lined with Chinese elms. The current owners, Donna
and Leonard Mader, have lived there longer than the Clutters did.
Three of the four upstairs bedrooms Herb Clutter designed for his family still remain as bedrooms. All but the biggest,
which was Kenyon Clutter's, bear a distinctly feminine touch. The smallest, formerly Nancy Clutter's, has been converted
into a computer room.
"We used to have a bed in there, but the kids won't sleep in there," Donna says.
A practical woman, she is more interested in cabinet space than who used to sleep where. She can't help but wonder
why, when the killers shut them in the bathroom, the Clutters didn't block the door with the cupboard drawers.
With the drawers pulled out, Donna says as she demonstrates, the killers couldn't have re-entered the bathroom, and the
Clutters might have escaped through a window.
The life of a house
Like many Holcomb residents, the Maders say they've never read Truman Capote's book.
They can remember for themselves when their house became infamous. Nov. 15, 1959, the day a whole family was
discovered shot to death inside it.
"That was the most gruesome day. Pheasant season had just opened. We had just had a light snow," Donna trails off.
From her house on the highway, Donna saw a hearse drive back and forth from the Clutter place four times. "I can
remember seeing it come out and go back," she says.
Unlike her husband, who saw Herb Clutter every day, Donna didn't know the family well before their deaths. But she
would feel the impact of their loss, along with the rest of the town.
Paranoia gripped Holcomb as word of the murders spread. No one could sleep, Donna recalls. People who were afraid to
stay in their own homes stayed at the Maders' old house for days. Leonard sealed the windows with 16-penny nails.
"It was one of the scariest times in my life," Donna says.
During the next 30 years, as Holcomb tried to forget the tragedy, the Maders got to know the new occupants of the
Clutter house. Leonard farmed the fields and kept watch over the house when Bob Byrd, a divorced cattle rancher and
the farm's new owner, was out of town. Donna played cards in the parlor with his relatives.
Always rotating between ranches, Byrd, who bought the house in 1964, was hardly ever around Holcomb. That made it
easy on the film crew when scenes for the 1967 movie, "In Cold Blood," were shot in the house.
When he committed suicide, Byrd helped add another morbid twist to the legacy of the house. To Donna's relief, he
ended his life elsewhere.
Leonard and Donna bought the house in 1990 from Byrd's relatives, two of whom lived there after his death. The Maders
got to know Byrd's son and daughter-in-law well in the 1980s over cards and coffee. The old Clutter family farmhouse
today is a substantial home enlivened by a family with children and grandchildren. The house, which is owned by Donna
and Leonard Mader, still draws visitors from around the world.
The process of considering whether to buy the house is a topic Leonard and Donna don't spend a lot of time talking
about. Leonard says simply, "The price was right."
It was very right, according to a deed obtained from the Finney County Assessor. The official document states that the
Maders paid "$1 and other valuable consideration" to the eight people then sharing ownership of the land.
In spite of all the evenings she'd spent in the dining room, Donna says she had never been all the way through the house
until she and Leonard bought it.
Realizing instantly the potential the place had for family get-togethers, where her large clan could comfortably sprawl,
Donna says she considered the big house a step up. She looked forward to moving off the highway, onto a more quiet
spread outside of town.
Point of interest
Quiet, however, does not describe the Maders' experience in their home the past 14 years.
Someone is always showing up at the end of the lane with a camera and the same old questions about what it's like to live
in a house where four people were murdered.
Having been acquainted with the former owners of the house, it's not the attention that surprises the Maders. It's how
long the attention has lasted.
"I would think that it would have let up by now," Donna remarks.
But 45 years after the killings that inspired a book by Capote and two movies, the curious and the crazy still come calling,
in the middle of the day or night, whether Donna has dusted recently or not.
"Sometimes it can get pretty aggravating," she admits.
Her sons Bryan and Wes, who live in a trailer on the property, have resorted to firing shots in the air to scare off
trespassers. Donna doesn't like the tactic but thinks it's effective.
Most of the time, she says, disturbances are limited to teenagers parking or sneaking around the broken-down Stoecklein
house. Occasionally, though, frightening people have turned up at the door, such as a psychic their granddaughter
mistook for a witch.
Reluctantly, they agreed to a quick tour for the woman from New Mexico, who said she'd been dreaming about the house.
Donna says she had to cut short the chitchat after the woman began offering a theory that the Clutters weren't really
"My thinking didn't run on the same lines," Donna says.
However eccentric, most of the people their house has drawn into their lives haven't been dangerous. In sharing the
stories heard from visitors from 30 countries, the Maders seem almost proud. "We've met a lot of nice people," Donna
That list includes a police investigator from Los Angeles ("a person from Dragnet" as Leonard says), an old, rich Dutch
woman, cross-country bicyclists and actor Sam Neill, the New Zealand actor who stopped by to pick up a local accent for
his role as Kansas Bureau of Investigation Agent Alvin Dewey Jr. in the 1996 television version of "In Cold Blood."
"He wanted to talk like Leonard talks," Donna says.
Even the psychic woman, who eventually returned, wasn't the wicked witch she initially seemed. She sent members of the
family birthday cards for years. The realization that none have come lately seems to worry Donna. "Something must have
happened to her," she says.
It's in part because the structure's history was beginning to overshadow their own lives that the Maders began giving paid
tours in the early 1990s. The short-lived idea to charge $5 per head for a walk-through came about as a way to
compensate themselves for their involuntary posts as historians.
They stopped the tours after just a few months due to resistance from those connected with the Clutter case and the
personal stress of having to keep a constantly tidy house, Donna says.
During that time, she says, she fielded accusations, mostly anonymous, of trying to profit off the Clutters' misfortune. A
look of mischief crosses her face when she mentions the mail condemning her to hell.
"I had lots of letters telling me how horrible I was," Donna chuckles.
While she is able to brush aside religious fanaticism, Donna has a harder time accepting the reservations of the surviving
Clutters. Her soft face grows stern when she talks about Herb Clutter's living daughters, who she's convinced made
money from -- or at least gave their blessing to -- the book and films that have kept interest in the story alive.
"I have to put up with all the people," she says. "I didn't write the book or make the movie, but I have to deal with all the
In the end, just a home
Big enough for two family histories, the house has been the Maders' now for more time than it was the Clutters'.
Donna stands in the dim light of the upstairs hallway, outside the door to a room where the youngest Clutter spent his last
night of life almost 45 years ago to the day.
Still masculine in décor, the room is no one's in particular now; a guest room.
As many others in this rural community would point out, life must go on. Even on its anniversary weekend, Donna Mader
can't afford to waste energy agonizing about a 45-year-old mass killing. Not when she's got a card game to prepare for
.and three beaming grandchildren coming through her kitchen, one begging Grandma for a kiss
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