William Edward Hickman

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William Edward Hickman
Born (1908-02-01)February 1, 1908
Sebastian County, Arkansas, United States
Died October 19, 1928(1928-10-19)
San Quentin, California, United States
Occupation Criminal
Criminal charge
Murder, kidnapping
Criminal penalty
Death by hanging
Criminal status Deceased

William Edward Hickman (February 1, 1908 – October 19, 1928) was an American criminal responsible for the kidnapping, murder, and dismemberment of Marion Parker, a 12-year-old girl. The Los Angeles Times referred to Hickman's actions as "the most horrible crime of the 1920s."[1]


He was born in Sebastian County, Arkansas,[2] the fourth of five children (but the youngest son) of William Thomas Hickman and his wife Eva (Buck) Hickman, who were separated sometime before 1928.[3] In that year, his father was living at El Paso, Texas while his mother and sister lived in Kansas City, Missouri.[4]

Murder of Marion Parker[edit]

Hickman kidnapped Parker on December 15, 1927, by appearing at her junior high school, claiming that her father, Perry Parker, was ill, and that he wanted to see his daughter. He did not realize there were twin Parker daughters, and did not know either child's name, but the school administrator turned one of the girls over to him. The next day Hickman sent the first of three ransom notes to the Parker home demanding $1,500 in $20 gold certificates.

On December 19, Marion's father delivered the ransom in Los Angeles, but in return Hickman delivered the girl's dismembered body. Her arms and legs had been severed and her internal organs removed. A towel stuffed into her body to absorb blood led police to Hickman's apartment building, but he managed to escape. A $100,000 reward was offered for his capture and for nearly a week Hickman eluded authorities.

He was finally caught after spending some of the ransom in Washington and Oregon. He subsequently confessed to kidnapping Marion, but blamed her murder on a man who was actually in jail during the time of the crime. He was extradited back to Los Angeles where he confessed to another murder he committed during a drug store hold-up, as well as many other armed robberies.[5]

Hickman was one of the earliest defendants to use California's new law that allowed pleas of not guilty by reason of insanity. However, in February 1928 a jury rejected his claim and he was sentenced to hang. He appealed the conviction, but the verdict was upheld by the California Supreme Court, and on October 19, 1928, he was executed on the gallows.

Ayn Rand's The Little Street[edit]

In 1928, the writer Ayn Rand began planning a novel called The Little Street, whose protagonist, Danny Renahan, was to be based on "what Hickman suggested to [her]." The novel was never finished, but Rand wrote notes for it which were published after her death in the book Journals of Ayn Rand. In these notes, Rand describes Hickman as "a purposeless monster", clearly rejecting his evil side, but showing interest in other aspects of Hickman, commenting, that he had been "a brilliant, unusual, exceptional boy" and she speculates about the social conditions that lead him to develop as he did.[6] Rand wanted the protagonist of her novel to be "A Hickman with a purpose. And without the degeneracy. It is more exact to say that the model is not Hickman, but what Hickman suggested to me."[7] Rand scholars David Harriman (who edited the book in which the notes were published), Chris Matthew Sciabarra and Jennifer Burns all interpret Rand's interest in Hickman as a sign of her early admiration of the ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche, especially since she several times referred to Danny (the character which Hickman "suggested" to her) as a "Superman" (in the Nietzschean sense).[8][9][10][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Let Murderer's Hang, The Los Angeles Times, December 21, 1927
  2. ^ 1910 Federal Census for Harford Township, Sebastian County, Arkansas
  3. ^ 1920 Federal Census for Harford Township, Sebastian County, Arkansas
  4. ^ Oakland Tribune, 20 Jan 1928
  5. ^ "Fate, Death and the Fox" at crimelibrary.com
  6. ^ Rand, Ayn (1997). Harriman, David, ed. Journals of Ayn Rand. New York: Dutton. p. 38. ISBN 0-525-94370-6. OCLC 36566117. 
  7. ^ Rand, Ayn (1997). Harriman, David, ed. Journals of Ayn Rand. New York: Dutton. p. 27. ISBN 0-525-94370-6. OCLC 36566117. 
  8. ^ Rand, Ayn (1997). Harriman, David, ed. Journals of Ayn Rand. New York: Dutton. p. 21. ISBN 0-525-94370-6. OCLC 36566117. 
  9. ^ Sciabarra, Chris Matthew (1998). "A Renaissance in Rand Scholarship". Reason Papers 23: 132–159. 
  10. ^ Burns, Jennifer (2009). Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 24–25. ISBN 978-0-19-532487-7. 
  11. ^ Zaballos, Nausica (2011). Crimes et Procès Sensationnels à Los Angeles. Au-delà du Dahlia Noir. Paris: E-Dite. pp. 56–103. ISBN 978-2846083102. 


  • "Hickman is Guilty; To be Sentenced Early Saturday", Zanesville (Ohio) Signal, February 10, 1928.
  • "Mutilated And Lifeless Body Of Kidnapped Girl Returned To Father For $1500 Ransom", The Havre Daily News-Promoter (Havre, Montana) December 18, 1927.
  • "Hickman Faces Trial Judge", Davenport (Iowa) Democrat, January 25, 1928.
  • "Hickman Executed for Murder of Marion Parker", The (Danville, Va.) Bee, October 19, 1928.
  • In Defense of the Fox: The Trial of William Edward Hickman by Richard H. Cantillon ISBN 978-0837567570

External links[edit]