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William Edward HICKMAN






A.K.A.: "The Fox"
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Holdup - Kidnapping - Dismemberment
Number of victims: 2 - 5
Date of murders: 1926 - 1927
Date of arrest: December 22, 1927
Date of birth: 1908
Victims  profile: A 24-year-old man (druggist) / Marion Parker, 12 (daughter of Perry Parker, a prominent banker in Los Angeles)
Method of murder: Shooting / Strangulation
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Status: Executed by hanging at San Quentin Prison on October 19, 1928

photo galleries


the capture

hickman 1


hickman 2

the sites


the victim



William Edward Hickman was a man short of money who thought he had come up with the perfect solution when he decided to try kidnapping. On 15 December 1927 he kidnapped 12 year old Marion Parker. Sending a ransom letter to her parents in which he called himself the 'Fox' he demanded $7,500.

It was arranged that he would meet her father Perry Parker to hand over the money and set Marion free. They met on the outskirts of Los Angeles. The kidnapper had a blanket wrapped bundle in his car which he said he would leave further up the road.

Having got the money he did just that. When Perry went to his daughter he found she was already dead. She had been strangled and her limbs had been cut off. Hickman was caught and tried for murder. His plea was insanity and he made two suicide attempts to emphasise this. He failed and was found guilty and hanged at San Quentin on 19 October 1928.


William Edward Hickman (1908-1928) was executed by the State of California on October 19, 1928 for the kidnapping and murder of Marian Parker, a 12-year-old girl.

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. 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, Parker delivered the ransom in Los Angeles but in return Hickman delivered the dismembered body of Marian. 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 capture.

He was finally caught after spending some of the ransom in Washington and Oregon. He subsequently confessed to kidnapping Marian, but blamed her murder on a man who was actually in jail during the time of the crime.

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 and both the law and the verdict were upheld by the California Supreme Court.

Influence on Ayn Rand

Hickman was an early influence on novelist Ayn Rand, who admired his unrestrained self-interest. Hickman proclaimed that "I am like the state—what is good for me is right," which Rand called "the best and strongest expression of a real man's psychology I ever heard."

According to Chris Matthew Sciabarra, Rand based the hero of The Little Street — an early unpublished novel — on Hickman's real-life exploits.


Marion Parker, (also known as Marian) (born 1915, died December 17, 1927), was the 12-year-old daughter of Perry Parker, a prominent banker in Los Angeles. She had a twin sister named Marjorie. On December 15, 1927 Marion was abducted from her school by William Edward Hickman, who called himself "The Fox."

The story of her murder has been sung about in folk songs. Songs and some reports about Marion frequently misspell her name as Marian.

Abduction and murder

Hickman took Marion from her school, Mount Vernon Junior High School in Los Angeles, by telling the registrar, Mary Holt, that Perry Parker had been seriously injured in an accident and wished to see his daughter. Hickman was posing as an employee of the bank where Perry Parker worked. Mary Holt said during Hickman's trial that she "never would have let Marion go but for the apparent sincerity and disarming manner of the man".

Hickman then sent letters demanding money for several days. All the communications were signed with names such as, "Fate", "Death", and "The Fox." A first attempt to deliver the ransom was ruined when Hickman saw police in the area.

Continued communications from Hickman set up a new meeting to exchange ransom at the corner of 5th Avenue and South Manhattan Street in Los Angeles. Mr. Parker arrived alone at the place with the ransom money, $1,500 in $20 gold certificates. Mr. Parker handed over the money to a young man who was waiting for him in a parked car.

When he paid the ransom, he could see his daughter, Marion, sitting in the passenger seat next to the suspect, wrapped up to her neck, and apparently unable to move. As soon as the money was exchanged, Hickman drove off, pushing Marion's body out of the car at the end of the street.

The coroner later testified that she had been dead for about 12 hours. Her arms and legs had been cut off and she had been disemboweled and stuffed with rags. Her eyes were wired open so as to appear alive.

Hickman later said that he had strangled her and cut her throat first, but he believed that she was still alive when he began to dismember her. Her arms and legs were found on December 18 in Elysian Park wrapped in newspaper.

Hickman also confessed that he originally had no intention of killing Marion, but killed her because she had learned his identity and that he was previously employed by her father at the bank. He also said that he had cut up the body with the intention of disposing of it, but later realized that the father would want to see his daughter before paying the ransom. He then attempted to reconstruct and disguise the body to appear alive.


A massive manhunt for her killer began that involved over 20,000 police officers and American Legion volunteers. A reward of $50,000 was offered for the identification and capture of the killer, dead or alive.

Suspicion settled upon a former employee of Mr. Parker named William Edward Hickman. Several years before the abduction, Hickman was arrested on a complaint by Mr. Parker regarding stolen and forged checks. Hickman was convicted and did prison time.

Police traced a laundry mark on a shirt found with Marion's body to an apartment house in Los Angeles, where they questioned a man named Donald Evans, who matched Hickman's description. Evans allowed the police to search his apartment, but they found no evidence and left. Evans then disappeared, but was later identified as Hickman. The getaway car used at the ransom exchange had been found by police, and it was identified as having been stolen weeks before. Investigators had Hickman's fingerprints on file due to his previous arrest and incarceration, and they matched them to prints found on ransom notes and on the getaway car.

Capture and death of Hickman

A week after the murder, officers Tom Gurdane and Buck Lieuallen found Hickman in Echo, Oregon and recognized him from wanted posters. 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.

In an attempt to plead insanity, Hickman told his attorneys that he had killed Marion on the directive of a supernatural being called Providence. This was one of the first insanity pleas on behalf of an accused killer in California, but he failed to convince the jury that he was insane. He was convicted of murder and later was hanged at San Quentin prison in 1928.

Motives for the crime

Hickman pleaded insanity as his official motive for the crime when at trial, although he had initially told police that he needed the $1,500 to go to a Bible college.

Evidence against his insanity defense included prison guards from Oregon who testified that Hickman had asked "how to act crazy". Prosecutors, however, speculated that he wanted revenge against Mr. Parker for testifying against him in his earlier trial for theft and forgery. There is evidence that he did it in part for the notoriety, because he told a reporter he wanted as much press as Leopold and Loeb.


The Murder of Marion Parker

The Malefactor's Register

Charles Lindbergh was taking his post-victory lap around the world after becoming the first man to fly solo across the Atlantic when he was bumped from his front page, above-the-fold perch by the savage kidnapping and murder of a 12-year-old California girl.

During a brief time around Christmas 1927, the tragic death of Marion Parker generated banner headlines in newspapers across the country because of the brutal nature of how she died. The entire crime and investigation lasted a little over a week, but Marion’s murder has been immortalized in American folk ballads.

Marion was kidnapped and slain by 19-year-old William Edward Hickman, a transplant from Kansas City who later gave several different motives for his crime. At his trial, Hickman was one of the first California defendants to use the state’s new “not guilty by reason of insanity plea” to excuse his behavior. Despite that he admitted committing the atrocities suffered by Marion - which led many people to believe that no one would so such things if he was sane - Hickman was unable to convince a jury that he was crazy.

He died for his crimes on the gallows at San Quentin in October 1928.

The tragedy began on December 15, 1927 when a well-dressed, articulate young man showed up at the school Marion attended with her twin sister in Los Angeles. The man told officials that the girls’ father had been taken seriously ill and that he wanted “the younger daughter” to come quickly to his side. The girls’ teacher was somewhat confused by the request for just one of the twins as well as the man’s request for “the younger daughter.” When queried again, the man corrected himself and asked for “the smaller one.”

He suggested that the teacher contact the bank where Perry Parker worked as assistant cashier to confirm his story, but his good faith suggestion aleviated her concerns. The man, later identified as Hickman, was allowed to take Marion.

Hickman got a good headstart on searchers because no one realized the girl had been kidnapped until she failed to arrive at home and a search turned up nothing.

Hickman said later that when he told Marion she was being kidnapped and held for ransom, she treated it like some sort of adventure.

“We were driving out in Hollywood Friday night, when my car was stopped by a traffic light,” Hickman said in a jailhouse interview. “Marion was beside me and the newsboys waved their papers close by us. Marion seemed to be amused by this.”

After Marion’s disappearance was reported to police, the Parker family received a pair of telegrams, one from Pasadena and the other from Alhambra, signed by “George Fox.” The telegrams told the family to expect further communication and ransom demands. The communiques ominously warned Perry Parker not to interfere with the kidnapper’s plans.

The next day, Parker received the first note from “Fox.” The note began with the header “Δ ε α τ η” meant to spell the word “Death” using Greek characters.

“Fox is my name, very sly you know,” began the first note. “Get this straight. Your daughter’s life hangs by a thread and I have a Gillette ready and able to handle the situation.”

A second ransom note included the ransom demands and was again headed “Δ ε α τ η”

“Fox” told Parker to get $1,500 in $20 gold certificates and be prepared to deliver them that night. He signed the note “Fox-Fate.”

The kidnapper included a plaintive note from Marion to her parents begging them to comply. She warned that Hickman had already threatened to kill her.

“Please, Daddy, I want to come home tonight,” she added as a postscript to the note she signed “Your loving daughter, Marion Parker.”

Parker gathered the money, worth about $17,000 today, and prepared to meet the man he knew as George Fox. Hickman called Parker on the night of December 16 and gave him instructions on how the exchange would occur. However, he spotted police in the area that night and never revealed himself.

On December 17, he sent a third note, blaming Parker for the failure to complete the exchange.

“I will be two billion times as cautious and clever, as deadly from now on,” Hickman wrote. “You have brought this on yourself and you deserve it and worse. A man who betrays his love for his own daughter is a second Judas Iscariot - many times more wicked than the worst modern criminal.

“If you want aid against me, ask God, not man,” he wrote. He included another note from Marion.

The kidnapper and father met at the corner of 5th Avenue and South Manhattan Street in Los Angeles about 7:30 p.m. on the 17th.

“He pointed a gun at me and said ‘You know what I’m here for. No monkey business,’” Parker recalled later. “I said ‘Can I see my little girl?’”

Hickman pointed to a tightly tied package in the car that revealed only Marion’s head.

“He said she was sleeping,” Parker said. “I assumed she had been chloroformed.”

Parker handed over the 75 $20 gold certificates and as they agreed, Hickman drove a block down the road and pushed Marion out of the car.

Witnesses said Parker ran down to where his little girl was lying and picked her up in his arms. Then he let out a soul-shattering anguished cry of grief.

Marion was dead. The package contained just her head and torso. Her arms and legs had been chopped off where they joined her body. A wire had been wrapped around her head just above her eyes. It cut so deeply into her flesh that it left a gaping wound. Her body had been disemboweled and her entrails replaced with rags. She had also apparently been flogged to such an extent that the flesh on her back was flayed.

The autopsy revealed that she had been dead about 12 hours and that there were no signs of sexual assault. The coroner was unable to determine a cause of death - he assumed it was either asphyxiation or loss of blood.

Hickman later confessed that although he strangled Marion and slit her throat, he believed she was alive when he began to dismember her.

On Sunday, December 18, newspaper-wrapped packages containing Marion’s arms and legs were found in a nearby park. By that evening the reward for her killer - dead or alive - had topped $50,000.

Quickly, what would become the largest manhunt in the history of the West Coast began as hundreds of police officers and thousands of angry citizens began looking for a young white man, around 25 years old, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighing 150 pounds. He was smooth shaven with thin features and dark wavy hair. At the time, the kidnapper was driving a dark Ford roadster.

Police got a major break when they traced a laundry mark on a shirt in which Marion was wrapped to an apartment house in Los Angeles.

More than 100 cops descended on the apartment building and conducted a room-by-room search. In one room police found a dark-haired young man who gave his name as “Donald Evans” asleep in bed. He allowed four officers to search his room and told them he “hoped they would catch the fiend.” After police left without finding any clues, Evans left the building never to be seen there again.

Police found the Ford Roadster - it had been reported stolen weeks before in Kansas City - and made a major breakthrough when fingerprints in the vehicle turned out to match those of a petty thief and forger named Edward Hickman.

Hickman was a former employee of the bank where Perry Parker was assistant cashier. It turned out that Hickman had been fired from the bank for forging checks at the bank and that Parker not only testified at his trial, but opposed a sentencing recommendation of probation. Hickman served a brief jail term.

His mugshot soon graced the front page of dozens of newspapers across the country, prompting sightings as far east as Chicago.

After seeing Hickman’s mugshot, Evans’s landlady told the press that he and Hickman were one and the same. The sheriff’s department confirmed this, but Los Angeles detectives disputed the claim. Others said they saw Hickman leaving the apartment around the time of the meeting with Parker carrying newspaper-wrapped bundles. During a second, more complete, search of the flat, criminalists found human blood in the apartment.

Despite the unprecedented manhunt - at one point 8,000 local, state and federal officers had made him their top priority - Hickman eluded authorities and headed north from Los Angeles, stealing cars along the way.

On December 21, a man matching Hickman’s description passed one of the marked $20 bills in a store in Seattle. Another turned up in Portland, Oregon, and on December 22, Hickman was arrested by police in Pendleton, Oregon.

(The arresting officers subsequently received dozens of offers to join the Vaudeville circuit.)

Hickman confessed to Oregon officials and was extradited to California within days. He admitted taking the girl, but blamed an accomplice for killing her. No accomplice was ever identified, and the man Hickman blamed had an alibi - he was in jail at the time of the abduction.

“He said she was crying and he tried to stop her or something like that, and he figured that the safest way would be to go ahead and fix it that way,” Hickman told police. “If this fellow had not killed her it would have come out all right as we had planned, because I am sure she didn’t want to die.”

At the time of his arrest, Hickman said he planned the kidnapping because he wanted money for college. Prosecutors speculated that he wanted revenge against the man who sent him to jail. Others believed he simply wanted notoriety.

“Don’t you think I will get as much publicity as Leopold and Loeb?” He asked a newspaperman.

While in custody in Oregon, Hickman began to lay the groundwork for his insanity defense.

“Wonder if I couldn’t pretend that I was crazy,” Hickman said to a jail guard. “How does a fellow act when he is crazy?”

In late January 1928, Hickman went on trial in Los Angeles, and used as his defense a year-old law that allowed a defendant to admit committing a crime, but to excuse his conduct on the grounds that he was mentally ill and not responsible for his actions.

“If the defendant pleads only not guilty by reason of insanity, then the question whether the defendant was sane or insane at the time the offense was committed shall be promptly tried,” the law read. “In such trial the jury shall return a verdict either that the defendant was sane at the time the offense was committed or that he was insane at the time the offense was committed. If the verdict or finding be that the defendant was sane at the time the offense was committed, the court shall sentence the defendant as provided by law.”

The law assumed the sanity of the defendant and placed the burden of proving insanity on the defense.

Numerous “alienists” examined Hickman and came up with varying assements of his state of mind. The majority found that he was sane. The defense put Hickman’s mother on the stand and she recounted that “insanity ran in the family.”

The prosecution put on witnesses who testified to Hickman’s state of mind while behind bars; all of them said he appeared rational to them.

One detective told about riding with Hickman back from Oregon. Hickman asked about the judge who would hear his case.

“He won’t hang me. He doesn’t believe in capital punishment,” Hickman said. “But I guess I’ll throw a fit for him in court anyway.”

Hickman’s comments help contribute to that judge’s decision to disqualify himself from hearing the case. After a 10-day trial, the jury found Hickman was sane and he was sentenced to death by hanging.

A smiling Hickman was asked how he felt about the verdict.

“The state won by a neck,” he quipped.

In the fall of 1928, the California Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the statute and Hickman’s conviction.

“The rule relating to the defense of insanity does not shift the burden of proof from the People to the defendant,” the court held. “But only shifts the burden of introducing evidence and declares the amount or quantum of evidence which he must produce to overcome the presumption (of sanity) and show his insanity.”

On October 19, 1928, Hickman mounted the 13 steps to the top of the gallows. He never expressed any remorse for what he did. His main concern was how he would be buried.

“Warden,” said Hickman, “tell me they’re going to bury me here. Honest I don’t want my old man and my mother to spend a lot of money taking me back east.”


Edgar Rice Burroughs Reports on the Notorious 1928 Hickman Trial

13 Columns for the Los Angeles Examiner


But Abnormality Does Not by Any Means Imply Insanity, Edgar Rice Burroughs Opines, Attending First Session.

Los Angeles Examiner ~ January 27, 1928

By Edgar Rice Burroughs
Noted Writer, Creator of "Tarzan" and Author of "The War Chief"

The first session of the Hickman trial was reminiscent of the Dundee-Hudkins affair and an opening of a Grauman theater. It resembled Mr. Hudkins' case against Mr. Dundee in that nothing much happened, while the ceiling and the chandeliers in the new courtroom showed the Graumanian influence on modern interior decoration.

The crowd was there, too -- most of it on Templestreet across the way from the Hall of Justice. Just what it expecdted to see or hear from this strategic vantage is not entirely clear, but at that about the only important thing it missed was the reunion of the Writers Club that opened in Judge Hardy's courtroom at 9:30 in the morning.

Justice Must Triumph

Judging from this initial session of the hearing of the case of the People against William Edward Hickman it is obvious that justice must triumph. All the necessary components that enter into the orerly processes of modern criminal procedure were there -- a presiding judge, four atorneys,a visiting judge, a court reporter, a clerk, several bailiffs and 100 representatives of the press. Oh, yes, we had a defendant also, but he is of minor importance. As a matter of fact, I did not know he was there until after I had left the courtroom.

Walsh's defense of his client is, of course, that of insanity. I have read that he has argued that to hang Hickman would be to indict  every normal American boy, whereas were Hickman to be adjudged insane the heinousness of his abominable crime would become understandable and excusable upon the grounds of irresponsibility.

Hickman Abnormal

But no one should compare Hicman to any normal American boy and it is libelous to suggest that he is in any way representative  of American youth, because Hickman is not normal.

But abnormality does not by any means imply insanity. Hickman is a moral imbecile and moral imbecility is not insanity. The moral imbecile is as well able to differentiate between right and wrong as is any normal man -- the difference between the two lies in the fact that the moral imbecile does not care what the results may be to others so long as he may gratify his abnormal egotism or his perverted inclinations.

What if Walsh is successful in his efforts to prove that Hickman was insane when he kidnapped Marion Parker, that he was insane when he murdered her, that hewas insane when he cut her little body apart? He may succeed in doing so, at that, when one stops to reflect upon the vagueness of the line of demarkation between human responsibility and the lack of it as viewed from one angle, by alienists for the defense of the prisoner and from the opposite angle by alienists for the prosecution.

What May Happen?

What will happen, then, or what may happen. Under our California law, Hickman might, at the end of one year, demand another investigation as to his sanity and if found to be then sane, the authorities would be compelled to free him.

If we hang him we have removed an immediate menace to our peace and happiness and safety and a potential menace to the peace and happiness and safety of countless future generations, for moral imbeciles breed moral imbeciles, criminals breed criminals, murderers breed murderers just as truly as St. Bernards breed St. Bernards and thoroughbreds breed thoroughbreds.

But we should not stop with Hickman; in fact, we need not wait to begin with him. The city whas plenty of moral imbeciles that we might well dispense with.

Yes, I think we are going to have a great trial if it ever gets started. There were a bunch of celebrities occupying ringside seats and society was well represented inside the rail.

It is strange what will attract our best people.



Hickman Will Get Justice, but it May Not Be What He Wants, Writer Concludes After Seeing Judge Trabucco in Action

Los Angeles Examiner ~ January 27, 1928

By Edgar Rice Burroughs
Noted Writer, Creator of "Tarzan" and Author of "The War Chief"

We have always been led to feel that there was something stable and enduring in the judge business - that one's position was not as precarious as in many other vocations -- but Mr. Walsh has disillusioned us. He disillusioned Judge Hardy, too. Why, the judge didn't have a chance to show his samples even before Mr. Walsh canned him.

Do you know, I think it was mighty fine of Mr. Walsh to abandon his big practice so unselfishly and come way out here to California  from Kansas City, Mo., and take charge of the adminstration of justice for us and face all this terrible publicity with such seet and simple resignation.

You can see that what happened yesterday has worried Asa a little bit -- he is noticeably quieter and less obtrusive. It is apparent that he feels that if he's not careful Mr. Walsh will fire him, too.

Our new guest conductor is Judge J. J. Trabucco of Mariposa County is, butI'm for it, horse, guns and eversharp, if this is a sample of the men it turns out. My, what a judge he is! About five minutes after court opened this morning -- if that is what courts do -- I felt the same conviction concerning Judge Trabucco that I experienced at the time I sat on a jury in Federal Judge James' court -- that if I had been indicted for a crime and I were innocent I should want to be tried before him without a jury.

There'll Be No Fooling

There ain't goin' to be no foolin' in the trial of the case of the People vs. William Edward Hickman, and Hickman will get justice. Justice may not be what he wants, but he's going to get it.

I saw Hickman today, which makes me believe that I am a natural born newspaper corresondent, as I was in court only two days before discovering the defendant. Tomorrow I am going to point him out to the rest of us journalists, although, at that, it really is of little moment whether one sees him or not. He is nothing to write home about.

As a criminal physiognomist, I shall have to admit to being a total flop. I cannot look at the outside of a man's head and say that he is a murderer, yet, after watching Hickman all day I will venture the assertion that if he is crazy, I am Professor Einstein.

We are now in the throes of selecting a jury, which appears to consist largely of discovering twelve good men and true women who never read a newspaper, never knew anything, and not only never had an opinon, but have not even talkedwith any person who had.

Trial Wasting Money

As I sit up there in that gold-ceiled courtroom watching all the ponderous machinery of the law, listening to volumes and volumes of words, seeing the tremendous economic waste that is represented by the hundreds employed either directly or indirectly in this hearing who might be profitably employed elsewehre, I am moved to wonder if, after all it is not we who are crazy, and if Hickman and his kind may not be in some respects the only sane people.

They know what they want and they brook no interference. They go after it until they get it. And what are we doing?

We know that Hickman abducted and murdered little Marion Parker and I doubt if there is one intelligent person in Los Angeles County who is not absolutely certain that Hickman knew at the time of the commission of his crimes that what he was doing was wrong and yet we are wasting time and money in an unnecessary court procefure that in the end may possibly defeat justice and place us in further jeopardy at the hands of Hickman or some other instructive criminal.

I don not know what we can do about it, but I do know that it would not be considered rational procedure in an individual and I cannot believe that it is the voluntary act of a rational society.

We are the victims of court procedure and of laws that are wrong and they should be righted by those to whom we look, usually in vain, for such relief. Until it comes, every degenerate may rightly feel that he may have his way with our daughters and our lives with reasonable assurance of immunity from punishment.

In the meantime we are trying Hickman . As I have not yet seen tomorrow's papers -- they will not be on the streets until after dinner this evening -- I cannot say which side scored an advantage today, but the defense led yesterday. Hickman and a defense alienist got their pictures in the papers, while I failed to see a single likeness of Asa Keyes.



Hickman Has Only Anatomical Resemblance to Man; His Type Menaces Society and Should Be Exterminated, Declares Writer

Los Angeles Examiner ~ January 28, 1928

By Edgar Rice Burroughs
Noted Writer, Creator of "Tarzan"  and Author of "The War Chief"

The alienists for the prosecution had a hard day of it yesterday while the talesmen were being interrogated by the attorneys for the defense. It was a bad day for psychiatric superiority complexes in that it revealed the mortifying fact that no one ever had hear do any of the"so-called alienists," as Mr. Wals descdribes them; very few of the prospective jurors had read what they wrote and none could recall what they had said in what they had written.

This examination of talesmen is tremendously interesting (and as long as we are paying for it we may as well drive what satisfaction we can from that fact) in what it reveals, ever so sketchilly, of the customs and home life of what is, presumably, the average American citizen.

One point that impressed me particularly  is the apparent absence of discussion in the home circle of topics of general interest, and I think I may say, without danger of refutation, that for a week or two at least the kidnaping and murder of Marion Parker was a matter of quite general public interest. The majority of the talesmen had not discussed the case with any members of their families, some had "talked" aboiut it briefly, but only one admitted to any more than cursory mention. Visualize, if you can, a home without discussion, which would necessarily imply a home without argument. There aint no such place.

Unlike Homo Sapiens

Hickman appears to me to be intelligently alert to all that is going on in the courtroom. I ahve been watching him intently for two days -- ever since I discovered him -- and I have dislocated a couple of vertebrae in my neck attempting to keep my eyes on the court or the attorneys  who happened to be propounding a question, upon the juror when the replied and upon Hickman to note his reaction.

It is not strange that the young man is self-possessed and calm, as nothing has occurred as yet during the proceedings to excite a neurotic canary bird, but I am confident that nothing can happen to ruffle his self-assurance, no matter how dramatic it may appear to others, and this belief of mine is based upon a strong conviction that Hickman except for the fact that he has two arms and two legs and is otherwise anatoically contructed in the semblance of the human species, is as unlike homo sapiens as is a mud turtle or a penguin.

Hickman is an instinctive criminal. He is a representatvie of a new species of man that has been evolving throuigh the ages, and only wheen society awakens to the fact that species may be differentiated by something other than anatomical divergencies and that psychic anomalies render groups of people more distinct from other groups that the mere conformation of the skull it will realize that the members of this new species may not be judged by the same standards that hold for us or accorded equal consideration, if society, as it is trying to exist today, is to endure.

No Appeal To Heart

As I sat and watched Hickman I tried to discover why it was that I experienced none of the reactions I had expected. He is a youth and youth appeals very strongly to my protective instinct as well as to my affections, as it does to all fathers; but I could find in my mind only a sense of revulsion. I was going to say in my heart, but Hickman does not appeal to the heart. And it was then that it was impressed upon me that I was not looking at a human being -- I was watching for reactions in some species of beast that does not react to the stimluli that affect human beings.

The mind and soul and the instinctive criminal differ as radically from ours as do the mind and soul of a tiger differ from those of a lap dog. If the world was overrun with tigers we should know just what to do about it and that is what we are going to have to do about this new  and terrible species of beast.

'Destruction Our Defense'

Destruction and sterilization are our only defense and we should invoke them while we are yet numerically in the ascendancy  -- if we are.

As I look at Hickman and recall what those hands have done, what those eyes have seen, what that mind has evolved, I cannot hate him. I could not hate the viper that struck me. I should wish to destroy it, but I could not hate it. And so I should wish to see Hickman destroyed -- not through hate, not through malice, but, with all pity, in the interest of posterity.



Edgar Rice Burroughs Says Hickman Sane; However, 'Fox' Regards Society as Enemy Against Whom He's Constantly At War

Los Angeles Examiner ~ January 31, 1928

By Edgar Rice Burroughs
Noted writer, creator of "Tarzan" and the "War Chief"

Justice, in all her majesty, strides relentlessly forward, There were eight cameras in court when I arrive yesterday morning against seven last Friday. Every press seat was taken and the minor consierations of completing  the jury was finally achieved.

I should like to say something aboiut modern methods of selecting a jury in a major criminal case, but what is the use? If I said what I thought it would be deleted.

However, I probably may, with propriety, observe that the court and the prosecution appear to entertain no hysterical fear of intelligent talesmen.

AS we become better acquainted with the personalities of the court room we are struck by the fact that the outstanding, dominating figure of the HIckman trial is Judge Trabucco. His alert, dynamic intelligence stimulates and impresses itself upon every phrase of every activity in that ornate room on the eighth floor of the Hall of Justice.

Judge Misses Nothing

I have seen judges who appeared to doze behind a convenient screen of dignity, but this man never dozes. HIs eyes and ears miss nothing -- he is a veritable watch dog of justice -- and with that he is the personification of judicial dignity, in that he inspires absolute respect without adopting the methods ofd either the martinet or the satirist.

Asa Keyes has not had any occasion to get into acdtion as yet, but he seems to be well cast. Of the defense attorneys I believe Cantillon is the keener and will add most to the gaiety of nations when the curtain rises after the prologue of jury selection. The zero in the equation is Hickman.

There has been a little comedy relief running through the prologue, thus closely do comedy and tragedy walk together through life.

The longer I consider the Hickman affair and the more I see of Hickman, the more convinced I ecome that the man is no more a human being in the sense that normal members of society are human beings, than is an anthropoid ape.

'Brutality Inborn'

He must have been endowed at birth with certain characteristics that are even more at variance with human characteristics than those of the apes are at variance with ours, and one of these characteristics is something that has been called "inborn brutality of the will."

This new and terrible beast-type in human form, this homo criminalis, is not necessarily insane, though the taint of his blood in the veins of homo sapiens might conceivably tend toward insanity in his progeny. He is as capable of understanding that his acts transgress the rights of others and the laws of God and man as are we, but he does not care. He realizes that he is different from other men and he looks upon organized society as an enemy against whom he is constantly in a state of war.

Where he combines with others of his kind we find more or less open warfare against society, and against other groups of his own kind, as evidenced by the gang wars of Chicago and other large cities, by such outbreaks as occurred recently at the Folsom penitentiary and sporadically in other penal institutions throughout the world.

How are we to arm and defend ourselves against homo criminals? One brilliant subscdriber writing to a Los Angeles daily newspaper suggested that as the fear of capital punishment evidently did not deter Hickman from committing an atrocious murder, captial punishment must be a failure, and he suggests that we substitute "love" for hanging.

Love! I doubt that Hickman has ever felt unselfish love for any living creature. I doubt that he is capable of experiencing any such noble sentiment, for if he were it is inconceivable that he could have looked into the eyes of a little girl, innocent, helpless, wholly within his power, and not have been moved y those other ordinary human characteristics that are components of brotherly love -- compassion and the protecdtive instinct of the normal male.

No, love would be wasted upon Hickman, just as I firmly believe that the concentrated hate of all mankind that is directed upon him is wasted as far as it may cause him remorse or prevent him from a repetition of his criminal acts should he ever again be turned loose upon society.



That's Defense Idea as It Appears to Edgar Rice Burroughs; 'After Sizing Up Jurors, I'm Convinced It Isn't Going to Get Very Far With Them,' He Adds

Los Angeles Examiner, February 1, 1928

By Edgar Rice Burroughs
Noted Writer, Creator of "Tarzan" and Author of "The War Chief."

Once again I passed through the cordon of police in the corridor of the Hall of Justice, passed the handsome deputy in the little pine door and the bailiff at the entrance to the courtroom, and once again none of them seemed to suspect that I do not know the difference between right and wrong or that it might seem eminently proper to me to dismember thema nd scatter their remnants in Elysian Park.

In fact, I never suspected this myself until I caught the trend and purpose of the depositions read by the defense attorneys in Judge Trabucco's court yesterday, from which I gather that insane people do not know the difference between right and wrong and that people who suffer from hallucinations are insane.

The idea, as it appeared to me, is to prove that Hickman is not guilty of kidnaping and murder because his mother thought she heard strange noises about the house at night.

In other words she suffered from hallucinations, therefore she was crazy; therefore she did not know the difference between right and wrong; therefor anyone who does wrong my suffer from hallucinations, which unquestionably proves them insane, therefore Hickman is innocent, Q. E. D.

When I was a young man, I thought, upon a certain occasion, I could thrash a policeman. It was an hallucination. ONce I had an hallucination that I could write a play. With these facts well established and a matter of record I may now start upon a career of murder.

And consider the lives of constant danger that all of us married men lead, for how many of us are there who do not sleep nightly in the same room with one who hears things about the house after dark? That is, I mean, of course if we are sleeping where we should.


So far the evidence adduced has not been very convincing, even as to the insanity of Mrs. Hickman, let alone the inability of her son to know that wanton murder is not considered entirely good form, and after sizing up the Hickman jury I am of the opinion that it is not going to get very far with them.

A point was brought out in the deposition of Hickman's high school chum, John Johnson, that is the most damning evidence thus far submitted, and that further crystallizes my already unalterable convition that the world will be better off after Mr. Hickman has departed hence.

He was a boy orator.
That was the first downward step, after that came forgery, robbery, kidnaping, murder.

2,000,000 HEFLINS

I have known all along  that something like this was goiong to happen if some steps were not taken to stem the tide of boy oratory.

Consider the astounding statement made recently in a local newspaper that the 1928 crop of boy orators will moiunt to the appalling toal of 2,000,000! Imagine the consequences of annually turning loose upon us 2,000,000 Heflins.

It is safe to assume that the defense will attempt to show that insanity is hereditary. That should not be difficult, as expert opinion is quite unanimous upon that point, and the defense may even prove that Hickman is or hs been insane, but let us hope that noting occurs to confuse the legal and medical definition of insanity in the mind of a single juror.


By medical standards one might easily be accounted insane whome the law could hold to strict accouintability for his every act. Mental depression, extreme nervous irritability are not normal condition sof  a healthy mind and a mind tha tis not normal may be adjudged insane, according to the testimony of one of the physicians who attended Mrs. Hickman prior to her commitment ot the Arkansas lunatic asylum.

As a matter of fact, however, the only issue in this trial may be summed up in a single question: Did William Edward Hickman believe that he was doing right when he kidnaped and murdered Marion Parker?

Or, to be more fair, was he ignorant of the fact that he was committing an act that would prove harmful to her? Such a conclusion is incredible and because it is so increadible this whole, seemingly interminable business of determingin something that everyone already knows, assumes the proportion of a vast hoax -- a hoax that society is playing upon itself and paying for, not only in money today, but will continue to pay for in money and tears and suffering for generations to come.

What is the answer? I believe that the answer could be given by such men as Judge Trabucco if they were not hampered by the necessitites of present-day criminal court procedure.




'Used Ruthless Methods Because They Offered Him a Quicker Fulfillment of His Ambitions'

Los Angeles Examiner ~ February 2, 1928

By Edgar Rice Burroughs
Noted Writer, Creator of "Tarzan" and Author of "The War Chief"

In the light of the depositions read in court yesterday we see Hickman in 1926 as a kindly, considerate, high-minded youth who aspired to the ministry; a youth who wished to work that he might make life easier for his mother.

These characteristics were quite evidently deeply impressed upon the mind of his friends, his teachers and his employers, and to such effect that not one of them can conceive that this likable boy of 1926 could possibly have committed murder in 1927, unless he had undergone such a mental transition in the meantime as to have become insane to a degree that rendered it impossible for him to differentiate between right and wrong.

I believe that I can understand and appreciate in what manner these sentiments have influenced these people to arrive at these obvious honest convictions. Proper consideration would be shown Hickman. I hope the jury will show him proper consideration. I hope they will accord him the same consideration that he accorded Marion Parker.


By the testimony of one employer, we learn that Hickman was too tender-hearted to kill a chicken and that another boy was called upon to do this work for him, which may, in the light of subsequent events, mean something or nothing. It suggests to my mind the possibility of what might be termed an anachronistic mental or spiritual development in Hickman. Most boys like to kill.

As they grow older, this primitive instinct becomes less and less pronounced until, in mature men, it often disappears entirely. In Hickman this development may have been reversed, but I think there is another explanation. I believe there is a very excellent explanation and I commenced to sense it from the depositions read Tuesday and yesterday it became almost a conviction.

Deposition after deposition stressed the evident fact of Hickman's ambition and his willingness to make sacrifices to achieve that ambition. I believe that the greatest ambition this youth has ever entertained has been to go to college. He had that in mind when he strove to win a place in the national oratorical contest. It was not the glory he wanted. It was the $500 that the Kansas City Star had offered the winner of this contest -- $500 that would put him that much closer to the fulfillment of his dreams.

He was an officer of an important student organization in Central High School in Kansas City, but when he found that this organization could be of  no value to him, he neglected the duties of his office and later resigned. Nothing mattered but his selfish ambition.

Out here in Los Angeles he wanted a motorcycle. He wanted it so badly that he forged to obtain the money to buy it, which is exactly what might have been expected of any other instinctive criminal. As long as everything was coming Hickman's way he was all right, for he was an intelligent boy and he knew that it is better to win by rightful methods than by wrongful -- and much safer.


When he was having his little successes in high school there was no reason why he should evince any of the criminal instincts, the possession of which he was dboutless ignorant himself at that time; but the moment that an obstacle confronted him he reasoned a way around it, not because he was insane, but because he was quite sane, and he did not put aside the wrongful methods of achieving his ends as a normal boy would have done, but gave them the same sane and careful consideration that he would rightful methods, and because the wrongful ones offered an easier and quicker fulfillment of his ambitions, he chose them, intelligently, ruthlessly.

I am commencing to believe that Hickman never entertained premeditated murder in his heart. H did not go to the drug store to kill Toms, but the instant Toms became an obstacle in his path, he destroyed him just as ruthlessly as he destroyed Marion Parker a year later when the realization dawned upon him that to return her alive would most certainly lead to his arrest and conviction, for Marion was too old and too intelligent to be safely left alive to describe and identify him.

Hickman's case might be described as ambition gone wrong. There is nothing new in that. History is full of such cases. We are surrounded by them in every-day life, though most of them, fortunately, stop short of murder. Ruthless, selfish ambition.

That is Hickman's dominating characteristic. It was Napoleon's, and of the two I believe Napoleon was less sane than Hickman, for he believed that he was doing right in the name of patriotism and country, while it is evident to any unbiased mind that Hickman knew he was doing wrong when he killed Toms, when he kidnaped Marion Parker.


The fact that he murdered Marion Parker is excellent evidence that he knew that kidnaping was wrong -- I do not mean legal evidence, because in court you couldn't possibly prove that the moon is not made of green cheese by admissible evidence -- but to convince an intelligent audience beyond a reasonable doubt, since from his purported confession and all of the known facts there is no reasonable doubt, since from his purported confession and all of the known facts there is no reasonable explanation of the murder other than a desire to escape punishment from kidnaping, which presupposes full knowledge of the wrong fulness of that act.

And why did he kidnap Marion? Again ruthless, selfish ambition. He wanted $1500 to defray his college expenses, and he didn't give a whoo-hurrah how he got it. Of course, he is insane -- so was Ponzi.



Women Who Viewed Photographs Never Will Be Able to Forget, States Edgar Rice Burroughs

By Edgar Rice Burroughs
Noted Writer, Creator of "Tarzan" and Author of "The War Chief"

Blank paper staring me in the face, words to be written and nothing to write about that has not been written again and again, ad infinitum, ad nauseam, e pluribus unum, or what have you.

There was drama yesterday, but that will be written of by trained men and women whose business it is to portray such events so vividly that tears will come to your eyes as they came to the eyes of the sob-shaken jurywomen yesterday when the photographs of the pitiful little remnants that had once been a happy child were passed through the jury box.

There may be ten thousands cogent reasons why women should serve on juries, but the effect of those horrible photographs upon the women members of the Hickman jury nullify them all. Those women never will forget what they saw yesterday; upon some of them it may make such a lasting impression as to affect their entire future lives and thus the ramifications of Hickman's hideous, wanton crime multiply an extend, bringing pain and sorrow -- a cancerous growth that not even the knife can now eradicate.


The consensus of opinion among the more experienced onlookers indicates that there is s little likelihood that this cause may terminate where it should -- at the lower end of a hempen rope. This is the first case of its kind to be tried under the new law recently passed by the state legislature and there is a question as to the proper interpretation of that law. Even though the jury agrees an Hickman is found to have been sane when he committed this crime, it is thought probable that his attorneys may interpose a new plea of not guilty and demand a new trial.

Many years ago the state legislature of Idaho labored an d gave birth to many new laws. After they adjourned for two years, it was discovered that all of the laws were unconstitutional. This is not an unusual habit of state legislatures, so we need not be surprised if something is found amiss in this new California law which bears upon the case at issue. As a matter of fact, I should be pop-eyed with surprise if I should discover that  a state legislature had ever done anything right, except inadvertently.


The witnesses yesterday were more interesting than their testimony, some of which we were able to hear and some of which was evidently of such a secret nature that the witnesses confided it only to the court reporter; but I know what ailed them and they have my deep sympathy as I have suffered total paralysis of the vocal cords in a similar situation.

Welby L. Hunt was there, and if he is an example of the present-day gunman, we fictionalists shall have to stick to Jesse James and Rube Burroughs for our types -- we could not jiggle a thrill out of our readers with a description of a bad man who looked like Welby Hunt. He might be any one of a dozen nice boys who had called on our daughters; even the dimple in his chin would not completely damn him. From where I sat, behind a phalanx of opaque star reporters, it seemed to me that Welby's helices were rudimentary, and if you haven't a perfectly good helix, you may fall under the suspicions of the alienists.

Frank R. Peck testified that he is some sort of building material contractor, but he should be an automobile salesman, considering the ease with which he disposed of his machine to William that December evening in Hollywood -- he not only delivered it, but he gave a complete demonstration within twenty minutes after he met his prospect. He was called as a defense witness, presumably to bear out the defendant's contention of insanity, but is a man who will steal a machine insane? That is the question. I owned a car once that I am convinced that only an idiot would buy.

Hickman grows paler. His face is absolutely bloodless. This might be a sick room and HIckman the patient. If it were, they have called a might good man in consultation. Ol' Doc Keyes, the well-known chiropractor, is going to advise manipulating the vertebrae in the patient's neck, if he doesn't die of old age before the adjustment can be made.



Los Angeles Examiner ~ February, 4, 1928

By Edgar Rice Burroughs
Noted Writer, Creator of "Tarzan" and Author of "The War Chief"

Once upon a time there was young wolf. With his little brothers and sisters he suckled at his mother's breast and with them he romped and played i the sunshine. He was a happy, harmless little puppy. He lived in a country where there were many sheep and one day, as he was approaching maturity, he killed a little lamb and tore it to pieces.

And the sheep waxed wroth and in their excitement they ran around in circles and said unkind things about the young wolf and demanded that he be punished; but there came a young sheep from another fold, a young sheep who had no little lambs of his own, and he said to the angry sheep: "The young wolf did not know what he was doing when he killed your little lamb." And the sheep said: "How come?" And the young sheep said: "We have known the young wolf all his life, we have seen him romp and play in the sunshine with his little brothers and sisters, we know that he drinks nothing but milk from the breasts of his mother."


"And what of that?" demanded the sheep. "Can you not see," asked the young sheep, "that such a kindly little wolf could not have killed your little lamb and torn it to pieces unless such a great change had taken place in him that he did not know what he was doing?" And the sheep scratched their heads and turned to the kindly shepherd who stood there with his twelve faithful Collies and they said to him: "Shepherd, we are only sheep; you know more about wolves than we do and so we are content to leave this matter to you, in whom we have so much faith, confident that you will protect us from this wolf and from all other wolves."

The defense plan, in the Hickman case, of introducing such evidence as to make the crime appear so atrocious that the jury will be convinced that the Eddie Hickman of 1926 could not possibly have perpetrated it unless he had become absolutely insane, ignores the fact that the anti-social tendencies of the instinctive criminal mature as the individual matures. Rosa Bonheur did not wrest a paint  brush from the hand of the accoucheur and delineate a noble Norman stallion upon the counterpane of her mother's bed, and yet Rosa was a born artist.

Hickman did not leap from his cradle, seize a butcher knife and dismember an innocent little girl, and yet Hickman  was a born murderer. If nothing had thwarted his ambitions, if no obstacles had intervened to render the winning of an honorable goal difficult, Hickman would never have committed a murder, nor any other crime. To the instinctive criminal of his type, crime is merely a means to an end. It is not in itself the chief consideration, as it doubtless is in the diseased minds of the criminally insane.


Hickman's case is analogous in many respects to that of a very famous English criminal case of the early part of the Nineteenth Century, Thomas Wainewright, well known in his time as an essayist, a man with a brilliant future, started on a career of forgery and murder for the sole purpose of obtaining funds to satisfy his craving for a life of ease and luxury. This was his ambition. In another it might have been an ambition to go to college. What difference does that make?

He murdered relatives who had befriended him in order that he might obtain their property. ONe was a beautiful and very healthy girl whose life he had insured for some ninety thousand dollars. Her he poisoned. He was a man of super-refinements who hated all vulgarities and "sordid instincts." Yes, he was very much like Hickman and a commentator says of him: "Wainewright presents to us a perfect picture of the instinctive criminal in his most highly developed shape," but nowhere, in all that has been written of Wainewright, have I discovered any suggestion whatever that he did not know the difference between right and wrong.

The defense will show that Hickman is not normal. Of course he is not normal in the sense that you and I are normal., or think we are; but in another sense, he is normal -- he is a normal instinctive criminal and as such he is a very real and terrible menace to all of us and should be destroyed, as all his kind should be destroyed, and our laws should be so remodeled that they may be destroyed with dignity, for ourselves, and dispatch for them -- especially dispatch.

If our criminal laws are remodeled to harmonize with our blatant claims to rationality a considerable mass of presently admissible testimony which now wastes a great deal of our time and money will, happily, go into the discard. What in heck do we care if the accused has two gold teeth and sore tonsils, or cirrus meningitis, or dementia praecox or that he is a paranoid who is suffering with a megalomania? Mussolini may, conceivably, be suffering with a megalomania, but I doubt that he would consider it entirely social to cut up our baby sisters, nor, if he did, that we should agree with him.

We do not care what ails this bird, Hickman. We know that he murdered Marion Parker. We know that he knew it was a wrong thing to do. We know that he should be hanged and if he is not hanged our already tottering respect for our laws may do such a Brodie that the next murderer we catch -- well, I was going to say something that I should not say, that no self-respecting, law-abiding citizen should say, but sometimes it is difficult to make our thoughts behave. We might send the next one to the Senate from Pennsylvania or Illinois and if he is as sensitive as Hickman has been described to be, he would die of shame.



Los Angeles Examiner ~ February 6, 1928

By Edgar Rice Burroughs
Noted Writer, Creator of "Tarzan" and Author of "The War Chief"

These alienists ought to get together if they want us to have a lot of confidence in them. ONe of them writes a book in which he tells about epilepsy, while his brother alienist, testifying for the same side, describes epilepsy as an archaic, discarded term born of ignorance.

These alienists are the comedy relief of an otherwise full drama and if they accomplish anything else in criminal trials it is to fix definitely in our minds, as a conviction, a suspicion of long standing, that the estimate of the value of a gored ox depends solely upon whose ox it is.

But notwithstanding this, we learn much from them, some of which, however, comes too late, much too late. We learn, for instance, that if we fail to observe ordinary care and discrimination in the selection of a germ plasm we may in later life become possessed of such delusions of grandeur that we shall wish to kill.


If someone had told Hickman about this nine months before he was born, he would not have had to strip to the waist before a courtroom filled with beautiful motion picture actresses and others of God's favored creatures who can manage to get into department 84 on some one else's pass and sit in the wrong seats, while a member of the lunacy commission drew pictures on his back and chest with an unsterilized key -- pictures that prove conclusively to every intelligent man and woman in that courtroom that HIckman slew Marion Parker form solely altruistic motives because, after three minutes and fifty-eight seconds, the pictures were still visible to the nude eye.

I learned something else from the alienists. I learned that the least said about the wanderlust I have experienced from my youth, the better for my standing in the community if you have a desire to do anything more exciting than emulate the estimable cow which stands all day, day after day, in the same pasture, contentedly chewing her cud, you may be a victim of dementia praecox. Not necessarily, of course; there are other symptoms, but you will fall under suspicion even though your big toe curls in the right direction when someone caresses the sole of your foot.


Furthermore, watch your boys if they develop any youthful ambitions, and keep the butcher knife locked up if one of them should chance to confide in you that he wants to be something besides a street cleaner when he grows up. It is a sure sign of delusions of grandeur and these are almost invariably fatal -- to someone else.

It seems that Hickman entertained delusions of grandeur, but he kept them a secret from the world and even from his intimates until after he had been arrested. If my memory serves me correctly, these delusions of grandeur occurred to him subsequent to interviews between himself, his attorneys and and alienist for the defense, but I may be wrong. I usually am.

And it seems that these delusions may become retroactive, so to speak. At least they seem to have become, so in Hickman's case, causing him to perform unsocial acts before he entertained these delusions of grandeur, for immediately after his return to Los Angeles, following his arrest, he stated definitely to an examiner that he had no delusions or hallucinations.


If I were not aware of the high standing and unimpeachable characters of many alienists, I should be inclined to ascribe motives to their sworn testimony that might make me the defendant in a libel suit, but I really do believe them sincere -- most of them; and so I am moved to ascribe, what otherwise might fall into the category  of idiocy or knavery, to the fact that psychiatry is as far from being an exact science as is alchemy or astrology and, as such, it has no place in jurisprudence under our existing criminal court procedure. Briefly, I believe that it can only tend to befuddle the minds of the jury and becloud the real issues.



'Alienists All Funny, but One or Two of Them Would Have Been Enough'; Elder Hickman Given Blame

Los Angeles Examiner ~ February 6, 1928

By Edgar Rice Burroughs
Noted Writer, Creator of "Tarzan" and Author of "The War Chief"

With a key I drew an H on the breast of my 15-year-old son and one upon my own breast. After ten minutes or so we buttoned up our shirts and changed the subject. Concerning which the less said the better; but I know that from now on the rest of the family are going to look upon us with suspicion. Dermatographia as either a fine art or a pastime has ceased to interest us.

Alienists have ceased to interest me. Like the other good things of life one may get too much of them. If Sid Grauman had been staging this Hickman show we would not have had so many alienists in the cast. Of course they are all funny, ut one or two of them, as a foil for the heavy tragedy, would have  been sufficient. Now the talesman who had never been "arrested," and Oddie Buck, the "fittified nutty sort of a feller," were great comedy relief, but if they had been multiplied several times they would have ceased to amuse, as the alienists have ceased to amuse, and, too, these birds cost us money. At twenty-five to one hundred dollars a day they really should be a whole lot funnier than they are.


But there is one thing about them that I like. Their testimony is unimpeachable. I know that it must be because they are paid to give it. They are the only paid witnesses. The other witnesses, being nonunion witnesses, who work for noting, arouse suspicions in my mind. As a member in good standing of the Authors' Union, I view them with alarm.

Beside greatly increasing my rather meager vocabulary, attendance at the Hickman trial has done other things for me. Among which is an increase in my belief in the value of the Boy Scout movement. In my former articles I think I have mentioned a belief, amounting almost to a conviction, that criminals are born, like artists, book reviewers, psychiatrists and other weird deviations from Nature's original concept of what a normal human being should be.

Many boys are born with criminal instincts. If they can be guided through adolescence and up to years of mental maturity to a point where they can weigh the relative value of a life of crime against that of a life of probity, the intelligent ones will choose the latter, and it is the intelligent boys that  we must guide away from criminal lives, as they make the most dangerous criminals. Such boys, born instinctive criminals, remain instinctive criminals to the end; but they will commit no crimes as long as it is not to their best interests to do so. The Boy Scout training develops the high ideals of normal boys and gives to the abnormal an idealistic goal that may become a fixed habit of thought to the exclusion of any anti-social goal that improper home training or environment might suggest.


It is a sad commentary upon us fathers that an international movement, supported and sponsored  by a comparatively few, should be necessary to insure the boys of the so-called civilized world the training, the example, and the environment that they should find at home.

Whatever insanity there may be in Hickman evidently came from h is mother's side, but the real responsibility for this monster rests equally upon the shoulders of the man who failed miserably as a husband and worse than miserably as a father . There are lots worse things in the world than dementia praecox. Moral imbecility is worse, and the father who will not admit the obligations of fatherhood and make sacrifices to the end that his boys and girls be better human beings than he, is a moral imbecile. Through comradeship, through example, he can guide them from the pitfalls that his maturer experience teaches him lie in their pathways.

The wonderful boys of the Boy Scouts are going to keep many of their fellows from the path that William Edward Hickman knowingly chose, but this responsibility is not, primarily, theirs -- it is mine and yours, if you, too, are a father.




'Hickman Called Fox and Other Names, but No Animal Kills as Wantonly as in His Case'

Los Angeles Examiner ~ February 8, 1928

By Edgar Rice Burroughs
Noted Writer, Creator of "Tarzan" and Author of "The War Chief"

Now I have got to take it all back, or at least a part of what I have been writing about alienists. Some of them are sane. It will be perfectly safe to permit Doctor Orbison to remain at large. Any alienist who can hold the interested attention of the hard-boiled audience in Department 24, following interminable hours of pompous asininities, is not only sane, but a good bet for the Orpheum Circuit. And while I am on the subject of entertainment, I should like to make a suggestion to the presiding judge of the Superior Court, or whoever it may be that stages the criminal productions for the edification of the superior intellects of twentieth century civilization.

We should have a master of ceremonies. It would add greatly to the joyousness of the occasion if Fred Niblo were there to introduce the celebrities as they enter the courtroom. Judge Trabucco's court teems with celebrities, but I am sure that if they were properly introduced we all would enjoy the sessions more -- especially the celebrities.

Recently I sat all day behind a Prince and never knew it until it was too late to work up a superiority complex over it. Princes should be required to have a sword and a haircut so that we might recognize them -- this one had neither.


I understand that there are thousands of good citizens bewailing the fact that they cannot crash the gate and get ringside seats for the best advertised show now playing to capacity houses. I would disillusion them. It is a bum show. The lead is a ham and the comedians are a flop. The heavy is all right. He goes around shouting: "No talking in this courtroom," and wakes us up every time we lapse into beatific unconsciousness of expert testimony.

You people who do not get in are getting the only entertainment this trial is affording. A hundred trained writers are being paid fabulous salaries (I use the word fabulous advisedly), to transmit the details of the case to you in an entertaining manner. It makes no difference to us whether there are any entertaining details or not -- we give them to you just the same -- and if you must see the audience here in the courtroom, buy the current issue of any motion picture magazine and pick your own audience. If you want to get into the next murder trial, get into the movies first -- it's easier.


I am supposed to write about Hickman occasionally, this being his trial, but Hickman bores me to extinction. If he would throw something -- a book or a fit -- he would relieve the monotony and raise himself somewhat toward the plane of Edwin Booth and Ben Turpin as an entertainer. 

He is described as a fox and a cold blooded beast, as a rat, a snake and a wolf, but did it ever occur to you that the thing he did, the thing for which he now stands in jeopardy of his life, is purely and almost exclusively a human act? With one exception man alone, of all animals, kills wantonly and that exception is man's best friend., which has been trained and bred by man, the dog; and I hate to say this about the dog, for I love dogs.

The accumulated testimony of the alienists fortifies my previously expressed suspicion that no good can come out of a boy oratory for the boy orator. Hickman's predilection for oratory has resulted in a gobbiness that may very well hang him. Like all orators he likes to hear himself go and like the fabled parrot he has "talked too damn much." He has convicted himself of every crime in the calendar and proven beyond peradventure of a doubt that he is not only quite intellectually normal, but even, in some respects, brilliant.



Picture of Slain Girl's Father 

'Will Be Always With Me,' Says Writer,  Even Contreras Affected

Los Angeles Examiner ~ February 9, 1928

By Edgar Rice Burroughs
Noted Writer, Creator of "Tarzan" and Author of "The War Chief"

It is a fact that there is an element of humor in every situation, and there is so much seriousness and so much sadness in the lives of all of us that I always like to try to find the humor. That is why I prefer Charlie Chaplin to Lon Chaney. But if there was anything  humorous in the court proceedings  yesterday during the hearing of the case of People v. William Edward Hickman, it has been blotted from my mind by the memory of Perry M. Parker upon the witness stand. That is a picture that will remain with me as long as I live.

It was not the result particularly, of what Mr. Parker did, or what he said, or how he said it. He was marvelously self controlled, though evidently under a terrific nervous strain. It was the result of what I knew was in his heart and the things that I knew to be in his memory.


I am wondering what Mr. Walsh was thinking. He is, obviously, an intelligent boy -- a nice boy -- and I cannot but believe that during the tense moments that Parker sat in the witness chair this nice boy must have felt some misgivings as to the humanity of his act in volunteering to defend the monstrous THING that is called William Edward Hickman.

Probably no man in Los Angeles has seen more gruesome and heartrending sights than George Contreras, chief of detectives for the district attorney's office, yet even he was visibly affected by the memory of what he saw when he answered Mr. Parker's summons to Manhattan street that December night. Dr. Wagner, autopsy surgeon, was affected -- everyone was visibly affected except the THING.

I have heard various estimates of the cost of this trial to the taxpayers of Los Angeles County. Once estimate was $50,,,. It may be more, it may be less. If justice is done, we shall not reckon the cost, but there are grave reasons to believe that, even though the prosecution is in the hands of one of the greatest prosecuting attorneys in the United States and is being tried before a judge who, I understand, has a record of some thirty years on the bench without a reversal, and the issues are perfectly clear, yet the defendant may escape on some technicality in the interpretation  of a new law.  Such an outcome would be monstrous.


The Hickman case is drawing to a close. When you read this it will be only a few hours from going into the hands of the jury. In some respects it has been unique. I do not recall another case in which both prosecution and defense were exerting equal efforts to prove that the defendant had committed an unthinkably atrocious crime and each equally anxious to impress this fact upon the jury.

As there is humor in every situation so also is there good. It is difficult to find either here, but let us hope that good of some nature comes of this, if only that it may serve in some slight measure to compensate for the harrowing grief that these, our neighbors, have suffered.



'Best We Can Do Is Discourage  Other Hickmans From Plying Trade'

Los Angeles Examiner ~ February 10, 1928

By Edgar Rice Burroughs
Noted Writer, Creator of "Tarzan" and Author of "The War Chief"

Mr. Walsh does not want Hickman hanged for fear that it will be construed as an indictment of all American youths. Reasoning from the same promises I cannot bring myself to believe that it would be highly complimentary to American youth to send Hickman to an insane asylum.

But I do not reason from any such premises. Hickman a the end of a rope, or Hickman in a madhouse, cannot and will not symbolize American youth of this day, or of any other day, unless for so long a period of time we permit his kind to go unhung that their blood has so permeated our social fabric as to render the vast majority of human beings. criminal by heredity.

Hickman is no more representative  of the overwhelming majority of the youth of this or any other country than is a five-legged calf representative of the genus box, and I have no patience with Mr. Walsh, or anyone else, who by such implications, or any other implications of any sort whatsoever, attempts to suggest that the American youth of today is decadent, morally or physically, or upon the verge of such decadence, or even tending toward it in any slightest degree.


I have had experience of several generations of children through  my own observation and through the observation of my parents and my grandparents, as well as that of historians, and I rise up on my hind legs to observe that in all that time there has never been evidence of a finer, cleaner, more intelligent lot of rational, reasoning, right-living young people than represented by the boys and girls of America at the present time.

It is a rank and unforgivable insult to the youth of America to suggest that Hickman is a type of any recognized form or tendency in American youth. He is the representative of a type, however, as I have been attempting to show for the last fifteen days, and as my esteemed colleague, Mr. Keyes, so ably explained -- he is a representative of the criminal type -- the type upon which we must continue to sprinkle insect powder  in whatever crevice or corner of the structure of modern society we may find them.


The show is almost over -- by the time you read this, written during the noon recess, let us hope that you will also have read the verdict of the jury.

Whatever that verdict may be, our battle must go on. There are more Hickmans in the world. There always have been Hickmans in the world. There always have been Hickmans -- there always will be Hickmans. The best that we can do is to discourage the uncaught Hickmans from plying their chosen profession and to destroy those whom we do catch.

This trial has been illuminating and instructive in many respects, not the least of which, to me, has been the discovery that laymen, law enforcement officers, physicians and jurists, agree fully with my criticisms of modern methods of handling major criminal cases, like the Hickman case. It has proven a post-graduate course in the study of human nature and human emotions and I have emerged rom all its sordidness and gruesomeness with a finer faith in human nature than I held at the beginning of the trial.

And I have had a new picture  judicial dignity and the word dignity has taken on a new meaning for me. There is no pompousness in dignity, there is no theatric posing -- dignity is human and natural and kindly. A great jurist can rise from his chair and pour a glass of water for a witness and carry it to him without any loss of dignity. He can smile with the rest of us without loss of dignity. He can do these things because his dignity lies within him, in his own consciousness and in his own fiber -- he, himself, is the dignity of the law.

I am out of a job now, but I am thinking of applying for the position of publicist with the American Society of Psychiatrists.



MO: Shot druggist in holdup; dismembered 12-year-old kidnap victim; suspected in other deaths from Calif. to Pa.

DISPOSITION: Hanged on one count, Oct. 16, 1928.

Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers



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