Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

My Baby is Missing!

Fate, Death and The Fox: Edward Hickman

On December 15, 1927, Marion Parker, the 12-year-old daughter of Perry Parker, a prominent banker in Los Angeles, was abducted from her school. A man had appeared at the principal's office and said that her father had been injured in a terrible accident. Letters demanding money were sent to her father for several days. All the communications, which often taunted the parents, were signed with names such as, "Fate," "Death," and "The Fox." Negotiations with the suspect continued until a price was agreed upon and a meeting was set. Mr. Parker placed the ransom money, $1,500 in cash, in a black bag and drove off to meet "The Fox." At the rendezvous, Mr. Parker handed over the money to a young man who was waiting for him in a parked car. When Mr. Parker paid the ransom, he could see his daughter, Marion, sitting in the passenger seat next to the suspect. As soon as the money was exchanged, the suspect drove off with the victim still in the car. At the end of the street, Marion 's corpse was dumped onto the pavement. She was dead. Her legs had been chopped off and her eyes had been wired open to appear as if she was still alive. Her internal organs had been cut out and pieces of her body were later found strewn all over the Los Angeles area.

William E. Hickman
William E. Hickman

A massive manhunt for her killer began that involved over 20,000 police officers and American Legion volunteers. Huge cash rewards were offered to anyone who could provide information that led to the identification and capture of "The Fox." Suspicion quickly 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. Investigators compared his fingerprints with prints found on the ransom note. They matched. Hickman's photo was plastered all over the newspapers and sent to every police department on the west coast.

Only a week after the kidnapping murder, two officers who recognized him from the wanted posters, found Hickman in Echo, Oregon. He was conveyed back to Los Angeles where he promptly confessed to another murder he committed during a drug store hold-up. Eventually, Hickman confessed to a dozen armed robberies. "This is going to get interesting before it's over," he told investigators. "Marion and I were good friends," he said, "and we really had a good time when we were together and I really liked her. I'm sorry that she was killed." Hickman never said why he had killed the girl and cut off her legs. Though his attorneys attempted to plead insanity for Hickman, the jury wouldn't buy it. He was convicted of murder and hanged at San Quentin prison in 1928.

The Marion Parker case shocked America and inflamed the public's feeling for vengeance against child abductors. The case subscribed to a pattern of kidnappings during that era and intensified the dread that parents felt toward the possibility of losing their own children. But the most famous child kidnapping case was still yet to come. The victim was the son of a true hero, a man who was revered throughout the entire world and who became one of the icons of American culture.

The baby's name was Charles A. Lindbergh Jr.