William Edward Hickman

Just like many of these old cases, after researching I am left with many questions and inconsistencies that have been reported over the years. This case is no different.  

The short, quick facts of this case is that a 12 year old girl, Marian Parker, the daughter of a prominent Los Angeles banker, Perry Parker, was kidnapped from her school on December 15, 1927.  Her kidnapper was 19 year old William Edward Hickman.  Four days later after her father delivered the demanded ransom, Hickman delivered him his daughter, who was now dead and dismembered.  After a manhunt that lasted just a few more days Hickman was arrested, tried and convicted.  He was hung at the gallows at San Quentin prison on October, 19, 1928.

On December 15, 1927 William Edward Hickman went to Marian's school telling the principal that her father had either become ill or was in an accident (reports vary) and he was to fetch her.  Hickman did not know that Marian had a twin sister and there was a bit of confusion but he eased the principal enough to not ask questions and sent Marian with him.  No one realized anything had happened until she did not return home from school that afternoon.  The following day Perry Parker received a ransom note signed "The Fox" demanding $1,500 in $20 gold certificates (remember the Lindbergh case??).  A transfer time was set up for the 18th but Hickman backed out when he saw police presence.  Another meeting was set up for the 19th.  Perry Parker said when he showed up there was a gun to his head.  He said he saw Marian in the backseat of the car, wrapped up to her head.  He did not have a good look and Hickman said she was sleeping.  The transfer was made and Hickman drove off, dumping Marian's body about a block down the road.  It was then that Perry Parker realized his daughter was not only dead but this was only her head and torso.  Her arms and legs had been severed and her organs had been removed. Her arms and legs were later found wrapped in newspaper in a near by park.  The coroner stated that she had been dead about 12 hours but could not give a definite cause of death, strangulation or loss of blood.  Later in a subsequent interview Hickman stated that he had strangled the young girl and then slit her throat but he thought she was alive when he began the dismemberment. 

Here is where some of the details start to get confusing.  One report says that there was a towel inside the torso to absorb blood, another says it was a shirt.  Either way, supposedly there was a laundry mark on the item and it was traced back to an apartment building.  Police went to the apartment and searched.  Some reports say that they came upon one resident who gave his name as "Donald Evans" and gave them permission to search and that soon after he left the building.  Later reports say that Donald Evans was in fact William Edward Hickman but not everyone agreed on this happening.

Perry Parker had described the person in the car, as well as the car that was being driven... a Ford Roadster.  The car was found abandoned and it was found out that it had been reported stolen several weeks prior from Kansas City.  Reports differ on if fingerprints were taken from the car or from the ransom notes that led them to know they were looking for Hickman.

And this is where I start to get what I call the "icky" feeling. :)  This happens when things just do not seem to add up for me in things.  Up to this point it appears to be clear cut.  However, it is then reported that William Edward Hickman not only had worked at the bank in which Perry Parker worked at previously, but that he had been fired for forging checks.  He was subsequently put on trial and Perry Parker had testified against him and had expressed an opposition to a recommendation for probation and Hickman spent a short time in jail.  I saw one report that says this happened "several years" prior.  That is not possible.  Hickman was only 19 years old.  Sure, in this era jobs were obtained at younger ages but I doubt several years before this Hickman was working in a bank.  So we beg to ask the question as to how Perry Parker did not recognize Hickman right away when they did the exchange.  I have found no reports of any disguise used to alter his appearance nor reports that Perry Parker knew who it was.

At any rate, at this point they knew they were looking for Hickman.  Rewards were offered and police all over the country were looking for Hickman.  Apparently he stole a series of cars and made his way to Washington and Oregon where he started spending the gold certificates.  He was arrested in Pendelton Oregon on December 22, 1927.  Upon being arrested he confessed to killing a store owner at some point and several armed robberies.  As far as the crime against Marian Parker, he claimed he had an accomplice and that is who had killed her.  However, the man he named had a very solid alibi... he was already in jail.  But....did he have an accomplice?  How do we answer Perry Parker not knowing him?

His trial commenced in January of 1928.  His defense attempted to use a newly enacted law and pled "not guilty by reason of insanity." Their attempts failed for many reasons.  It is said the biggest reason was that Hickman had made comments indicating that he had possibly done this for notoriety.  At one point he had asked an officer if he thought he would get as much publicity as Leopold and Loeb.  His trial lasted 10 days and ended in his conviction.  His subsequent appeal failed and he met with the gallows on October 19, 1928.  

It was said that he never showed any kind of remorse.  The only reason for the crime given was for money, knowing that Perry Parker worked at a bank.  In the end, at the gallows all he asked was if he would be buried on prison land so his family would not have to pay to take his body out east.




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