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Friday, December 6, 2013

Murder LA 000037

Saturday, December 17, 1927.

William Edward Hickman
via Crimeopedia
Perry Parker's 12-year-old daughter was kidnapped two days ago.

A young man named William Hickman had walked into her junior high school around noon and told the attendance supervisor that his co-worker, Mr. Perry, had been injured and requested his daughter.

Hickman, aged 19, had indeed worked at the First National Bank of Los Angeles with Parker, but had been fired for forgery.

Parker had two girls: twins Marion and Marjorie. The attendance supervisor retrieved only Marion and released her to Hickman.

The Parkers received several telegrams, some signed by "the Fox" and some by the child, threatening her imminent demise. $1,500 in gold certificates--the paper currency of the day--was demanded. The police were not to be involved.

But they already were. They laid a trap on Friday night when Mr. Parker received directions for the money exchange, but nobody showed up.

On Saturday more telegrams arrived, indicating the Fox knew about the police involvement and that the girl would die if the ransom was not paid today. The police will not follow this time.

Parker receives a phone call at 7:15pm directing him to Fifth and Manhattan.

At the intersection he encounters a "small roadster" which pulls up alongside his car. Hickman, masked, draws a gun and tersely says the girl is asleep. Mr. Parker can see his daughter in the passenger seat. He hands over the cash and the roadster proceeds forward about a block. The girl is ejected onto the sidewalk before the vehicle speeds away.

Parker rushes to his daughter only to discover her not only dead but badly mutilated.

So badly, that several bundles of her parts were found the next day in Elysian Park at various times by different people, including by "two small boys".

So badly, because Hickman had dismembered her for disposal but realized he would need to present her as alive to collect the ransom. He then reassembled her enough to pass for living.

The autopsy ended up assigned to the Parker's next door neighbor, who knew the girl for years.

The police woke Hickman up with a visit the next morning but they spoke only briefly and he wished them luck as they left. He was gone by the time they returned.

Local radio station KFWB raised nearly $20,000 as a reward for an arrest. It is said that many movie stars contributed.

He was caught the next week in Oregon and California lawmen collected him December 24th. Los Angeles police feared a mob riot, saying the public was at an unprecedented level of anger.

He was tried and sentenced to death the following year despite one of the earliest attempts at an insanity plea. After several appeals he was hanged in San Quentin at age 20. The night before he died he spoke at length with his guards, telling them that it was not revenge; that Parker, an official at the bank, had actually helped him when he was accused of forgery.

"If they shouldn't hang me," he told them, "then they never should hang another man."

via the Providence News

  • The gruesome details are given in the linked articles but you may not want to know.
  • Several high quality photos available here, including Hickman snuggling with a blanket.
  • There were initially thought to be a male and female accomplice who reportedly sent some of the telegrams but nothing seems to have come of this. At least one alienist--old-timey-speak for a psychiatrist or psychologist--concluded it to be the work of only one person. Hickman didn't implicate anyone else in this murder, even though he did testify regarding an accomplice to a different murder during a robbery on Christmas Eve 1926. He didn't shoot that victim but under California law they were both equally responsible for the death.
  • District Attorney Asa Keyes, who tried Hickman, was arrested two weeks after the execution for accepting bribes to lose another case. He eventually ended up in San Quentin as well.
via the Warsaw Union