Lowell Lee Andrews Was The "Nicest Boy" In Wolcott - But There Was Nothing Nice About Him
The citizens of Wolcott, KS, were all shocked when three members of the Andrews family were murdered November 28, 1958. Their bloody deaths were a traumatic experience for the community, but what really shook them to their core was the fact that the killer was none other than Lowell Lee Andrews, the Andrews' only son and, according to the neighbors, the "nicest boy in Wolcott."
Though In Cold Blood is undoubtedly the famous Kansas murder everyone still remembers today, Andrews lived in its shadow as yet another stone-cold killer. Andrews shot his 20-year-old sister, mother, and father, and though he initially tried to cover up the crime, Andrews soon confessed in the early morning hours. He never apologized or repented.
The young man's dreams of becoming a mobster and inheriting his family's successful farm were quickly dashed when he was convicted of their murders. Lowell Lee Andrews was hanged in 1962, offering no words or apologies before he met his fate. The family annihilator faded into history while the In Cold Blood killers became famous as a result of Truman Capote's reporting and subsequent book, but Lowell Lee Andrews was mentioned in both the book and subsequent films.
Andrews Made Sure His Family Were Dead, No Matter How Many Shots It Took
When Andrews set out to kill his family over Thanksgiving weekend in 1958, he took two guns from the closet: a rifle and Ruger pistol. He used the rifle first, hitting his sister once between the eyes and killing her. Then, he fired six shots at his mother and twice at his father.
However, Andrews's father didn't die from those two shots. The elder Andrews tried to crawl away to the kitchen, but his son doubled down and fired 15 more shots from the pistol into his father. Other reports say he shot his sister Jennie three times, his mother four times, and his father 17 times.
He Tried To Make It Look Like A Burglary Gone Wrong
On the night of the murder, Andrew's plan was to make the crime looks like a robbery gone wrong. He opened his bedroom window, removed the screen from it, and ransacked the place. In the court records, it shows that he also turned out the dresser drawers and emptied his mother's and sister's purses. "The purpose of all this was to simulate the conditions which might appear if an outsider had attempted to rob the home," the records state.
The reality, of course, was that Andrews was the one who wanted his family's money. He later told authorities he wanted the family farm and the money in his father's bank account.
Andrews Made An Effort To Create A False Alibi
After senselessly murdering his family, Andrews drove to Lawrence, KS, to his college apartment in an attempt to establish an alibi. He picked up his typewriter, making sure to speak to his landlady and roommate. The court records show he went to a gasoline station, where he "apparently made certain that he was recognized." Andrews then headed to the Granada movie theater, where he watched the 1958 film Mardi Gras. He attempted to strengthen his alibi there, talking to theater employees. After the movie ended, Andrews threw the guns into the Kansas River and went home. He fed the dog, sat on the porch, and then reported the so-called robbery.
He Said "I Don't Care What You Do With Them" About His Dead Family
Andrews was notably cool and calm after murdering his family. When the sheriff's deputy showed up to investigate and asked Lowell Lee what happened, the boy simply pointed and said, "Look in there."
Then, when asked about funeral arrangements, he said, "I don't care what you do with them." And when he was asked what he felt, Andrews said that he "didn't feel anything about it. The time came, and I was doing what I had to do. That's all there was to it."
Andrews's lack of emotion was eerie to say the least; even at his own execution, a reporter called Andrews "outwardly remorseless and disinterested." The Associated Press even reported he was "smiling slightly."
Andrews Confessed To His Minister
The Andrews family was Baptist, so the Baptist minister was called to the scene by the coroner. Virto Dameron met Andrews down at the sheriff's office, and Andrews asked to speak with the minister privately. Dameron gave the boy a Coke and asked, "You didn't do this terrible thing, did you? If you did, now is the time to purge your soul." And purge he did. After the meeting, Reverend Dameron told law enforcement officers that Andrews was ready to make a statement.
In the court proceedings, the defense argued that Dameron should not have been allowed to testify in the trail since he "occupied the role of minister of the church of which the defendant was a member." However, Dameron testified "that there was no course of discipline in the Baptist church by which a member thereof was enjoined to confess his sins to a minister of the church." Dameron also said he told Andrews he could get him a good attorney, but Andrews said to "Bring them in" in order to make a statement that very moment.
He Pleaded Not Guilty By Reason Of Insanity
Andrews was sent to the Menninger Clinic, a mental institution in Topeka, KS. While there, Dr. Joseph Satten established that Andrews was schizophrenic, but that he had been aware of what he was doing when he killed his family. Dr. Satten called Andrews's crime a "sudden murder," meaning that someone who seemed perfectly fine before and after committed the heinous deed. Dr. Satten also said Andrews knew he should be punished for the crime. Not surprisingly, Andrews was convicted of murder and sentenced to death - the insanity plea didn't work.