December 17, 1927
Los Angeles, California
Marion Parker (12) is kidnapped and murdered in a ransom attempt
William Edward Hickman abducted Marion while posing as an employee at Marion’s father’s bank. He claimed Mr. Parker had been injured and wanted to see his daughter. However, Hickman was unaware Marion had a twin and did not know the name of either girl. Nevertheless, the school allowed Marion to leave with Hickman, due to the “apparent sincerity and disarming manner of the man.”
The following day, a random note demanding $1,500 was honored and Mr. Parker delivered the money to a young man waiting in a parked car. Parker noticed his daughter sitting in the car, covered up to her neck with a blanket and not moving. As the man in the car, later identified as Hickman, pulled away, he shoved Marion’s torso out of the car door. Her arms and legs had been severed, she had been disemboweled and stuffed with rags, and her eyes were held open with wires. Her arms and legs were found wrapped in newspaper in Elysian Park on December 18. Wanted posters of Hickman lead to his arrest in Oregon a week later.
The coroner overseeing Marion’s case testified she was killed 12 hours before her ransom was paid. Hickman testified he had strangled Marion and cut her throat, though he believed she may have still been alive when he began dismembering her. Hickman also claimed he had not intended to murder Marion but was forced to after she recognized him as one of her father’s former employees. He also claimed that a supernatural being named Providence ordered the murder, likely as a way to prove his insanity defense, and that he needed the $1500 to attend a Bible college. Hickman was found guilty and executed on October 19, 1927.
Marion’s torso at the coroner’s
The discovery of Marion’s severed, newspaper-wrapped limbs (credit: the now-defunct Orgish.com)
Hickman at trial, just before receiving a guilty verdict