Unsolved: Walker Family Murders (1959)

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The Walker Family Quadruple murder occurred in Osprey, Florida. This case has been open for 64 years with no leads or new evidence as of today.

Osprey was a small town, just a few thousand people and everybody seemed to have peace that comes with it. On December 19, 1959, this little town was about to have a big wake up call.

Christine and Cliff Walker and there 2 kids were shot to death in their home. Authorities believed that 24-year-old Christine walker arrived at their home around 4 PM on Saturday, December 19, where she was raped, and then murdered by gunshot. Her husband, Cliff, 25 years old, then arrived with their 3-year-old son, Jimmie and 1 year old daughter Debbie. Cliff was ambushed and killed by gunshot. Jimmie and Debbie were then murdered. Jimmie was shot, and Debbie was hot in addition to be drowned in the bathtub. The actual case of death is unknown, and she could have been shot in the bathtub. The suspects had left he Walker Family home with no remorse and a family dead.

Cliff Walker was supposed to go hog hunting with coworker and friend, Daniel McLeod. Daniel McLeod loaded up his horse and hooked up his horse trailer and headed for the Walker Family home. When McLeod arrived, he noticed the darkness emanating from the house and it was quiet, which was an odd thing as the family was known to always rise early.

McLeod knocked on the Walker’s front door and getting increasingly louder as he became more uneasy at the lack of response from his knocking. McLeod believed that the family had simply slept in and did not think anything of it. McLeod then started calling out and trying to make further attempts to easy his uneasy feeling. McLeod looked further around the property and noted the family car was not in the usual position that it was always parked in and there was a log and Christmas gifts laying on the porch.

McLeod started to get alarmed at this point and decided he was going to start looking through the windows to see if he could see anything. There was a very dim light on inside, so he knew somebody was inside but just ignoring him. He then started to think the worse and figured something was wrong and made the decision himself to enter the house, cutting through the screen door and then he seen the horrific scene that will forever be in his memory, this was something he could not have dreamt of. The entire Walker family, dead, all murdered including the children.

Who could have wanted to murder this entire family? Was this suppose to be a rape on the wife and the husband came home to early and they needed to finish the job? But why the kids? The kids were so young they would not have been able, well hopefully not remember this horrific murder. Or was this a robbery and the wife caught them in the act?

The family was young and growing and look set to be wonderful members of the community for years to come, but now, Christine lays in the a pool of her blood at the entrance to the living room. Cliff and Jimmie were slumped in the corner and upstairs, little Debbie lays in a blood-filled bath. Daniel ran as fast as he could from the Walker house and had to go call the police.

Police arrived and began to search the home for evidence and soon discovered the some items were missing from the house. The items were some of the bizarre things according to the police: Christine’s high school majorette uniform, Cliff’s pocketknife, and the couple’s marriage licenses. Was this one of Christine’s old boyfriends that were jealous? The police also found a bloody cowboy boot, a cellophane stripe for a cigarette wrapper, and a fingerprint on the bathtub faucet.

The Police tried to reconstruct the events that went on in the Walker home, the believed the family had been out running errands and believed Christine arrived home first. Entering her home, she was not attacked right away, the suspects gave her enough time to put the groceries away before she was ambushed, but did somebody arrive, and Christine let them in? Or were they already in the house when she arrived? That will remain a mystery forever, but since the family car parked in a different spot than what it usually was that leads me to think that there was somebody else’s car there before she was.

Police believe that Christine was likely fighting viciously, they believed she used her high heeled shoes, which stained them with blood and even making it of the house before the suspects or suspect drug her back in. She was then taken to Jimmie’s room, where she was raped on his bed before being shot with a .22 firearm, but the first bullet missed which caused her to flee to the living room where the second bullet did not miss. Not long afterward, Cliff returned home with Jimmie and Debbie.

Cliff was shot almost immediately, in the face, which then followed by Jimmie, but he did not die, he was wounded terribly and crawled to his father seeking protection, but little did he know, his father could not protect him, the killer put two more bullets in the back of Jimmie’s head. The killer then turned to Debbie, and shot her, but was out of ammunition, Debbie somehow survived, and the suspects/suspect then took the 1-year-old to the bathroom and drowned her in the bathtub. Police still do not know if the death of Debbie was from the bullet wound or the water, nothing was concrete.

Police believe there was more than 1 attacker, the only believe this because forensic evidence was discovered in the bathroom, a dark-colored hair, and a long blonde hair was found inside of Christine Walker’s dress.

Police interviewed around 500 suspects over the years, but the case could not be solved. They did have a promising suspect, who was a serial killer named Emmett Monre Spencer as he wrote a confession to the murders, but it was dismissed as he was a professional liar, a month earlier.

There was another murder a month early that had to similarities to the Walker family. The Clutter family was killed in their home in Kansas. Perry Smith and Richard Hickock had sunk into the Clutter family home and shot them, pretty like the Walker Family don’t you say?

Smith and Hickock was later arrested in Las Vegas and charged with the murder of the Clutter Family, this murder case not only captured local attention but the nation’s attention as the Clutter family case made a headline in the Kansas news.

Perry Smith and Richard Hickock were in and were given a polygraph test, which they passed, as Detective Capote interviewed them, he never mentioned the Walker Family until 1965 when “In Cold Blood” was published, in the paragraph in the book. The Walker Family was mentioned, and the nation finally knew about the case in Florida.

But the real question that remains today is: Who killed them? Me personally I think Smith and Hickock killed them, I think it would have taken 2 people to commit this horrific quadruple murder especially if Christine fought back the way she did.

Perry Smith and Richard Hickock were hung in 1965 but they never confessed to the Walker Family Murders.

 

Daniel McLeod himself was also an initial suspect but passed a polygraphy and was quickly eliminated as a suspect. Another initial suspect was Wilbur Tooker, Tooker was the local pervert, it was said that he even tried to kiss Christine in the past and he regularly made indecent propositions. Cliff even went as far as threatening to kill him but Tooker had a solid alibi for the time of the murders. Another initial suspect, a cousin of Cliff’s, Elbert Walker. Elbert would be on the police radar for a long time, he was described as violent and wild when drunk, many believed he was mentally ill. Tooker was not the only one how tried to make a pass at Christine, Elbert also made advances toward Christine, even the family members said his grief was shown as fake as he fainted not once, but twice at the family funeral, but he passed a polygraph and was eliminated through DNA in 2006.

But here is the best suspect at the time the police though they had, his name was Curtis McCall, a man who was a troublemaker with a long rap sheet. Locals said that McCall was having an affair with Christine Walker and he was known to have a .22 caliber gun. McCall was brought in for questioning and he denied having any romantic interest in Christine and he said that he sold the weapon not that long ago. McCall also had 2 polygraph tests and during each one, he was so nervous, they all ended as inconclusively, but the test showed that he was more than likely lying when asked if he had withheld information.

Bloody clothing was found in a shed not far away from the Walker home a few months after the quadruple murder. They found, shirts, a blouse and pants that belonged to Cliff and Christine and they were all soaked with blood. Police thought that they had been grabbed and used to wipe the blood of the killer or killers. The discovery was rather interesting as it would be unlikely that a person who did not know the area would know about the shed.

At the time of the murders, the Walker’s had been thinking about buying a 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air,  this was the same car that Smith and Hickock had stolen in Kansas, so if they did have that car while they were in Florida and it was pulled up to the Walker house, Christine would have thought that Cliff had ended up buying the car after all, but the same day, Smith and Hickock were positively identified at a department store just a few miles from the Walkers and it was said that one of them had a scratched face.

In 1994, there was a minor development in the cold case, a woman from Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, called the Sarasota Sheriffs Office and said that a one of her regular customers at her bar had gotten super drunk and began crying saying that he had “killed some people in Florida,” and mentioned the name “Walker” The lady believed he had done occasional work in or around the town, but the lady never called again.

In December 2012, it was announced to the public that Smith and Hickock’s bodies were going to be exhumed to match their DNA to the semen samples that were taken from Christine Walker back in 1959. The case was not a priority, and it would be August of 2013 before the results came in, when they came in, they registered as inconclusive, it was only a partial DNA that had been retrieved and therefore any conclusions were be labeled as uncertain.

There was so much circumstantial evidence to suggest that Smith and Hickock may have been responsible for the Walker’s Murders. They were in the area at the same time, they had already committed on horrific crime, and both killings involved a home break in, and both families were killed by firearms, and both families had small minor items stolen.

I want to go back to the blonde hair that was found in Christine’s dress, it was said that neither Smith no Hickock were blonde so who’s hair was that? Was it just one of her children’s? I know I have children and I find my hair on them all the time so could have that hair been one of her children’s? Or even Cliff’s?

The police believe the Walker family murder was directly targeting Christine and the family rather than a home invasion. The items taken from the Walker Family home were personal, and the police still believed that Smith and Hickock remain the best suspects in this case, but what I did find strange is that the marriage licenses were returned to the family when a relative included it in the items that were given to Cliff Walker’s niece. Why would this family member have the marriage licenses? The marriage licenses was to have been taken in the home invasion so why would a family a member have them?

Sadly, this case is still open, 64 years later with no leads or evidence, this case will probably stay open forever, this must be so incredibly sad for the family as they will never have closure on who murdered their entire family, including the children. They will never receive that phone call needing them to say those few words that after 64 years its fine closed and they found who murdered them. This killing of this family will remain dark and unsolved in Florida’s long list of criminal history.