For readers of true crime sagas like Tinseltown and Little Demon in the City of Light comes a chilling account of a murder that captivated the United States in the 1920s.
Twelve-year-old Marion Parker was kidnapped from her Los Angeles school by an unknown assailant on December 15, 1927. Her body appeared days later, delivered to her father by the killer, who fled with the ransom money. When William Hickman was hunted down and charged with the killing, he admitted to all of it, in terrifying detail, but that was only the start….
Hickman’s insanity plea was the first of its kind in the history of California, and the nature of the crime led to a media frenzy unlike any the country had seen. His lawyers argued that their client lived in a fantasy world, inspired by movies and unable to tell right from wrong. The movie industry scrambled to protect its exploding popularity (and profits) from ruinous publicity. Outside the courtroom, the country craved every awful detail, and the media happily fed that hunger. As scandals threatened the proceedings from the start, the death of a young girl grew into a referendum on the state of America at the birth of mass media culture.
David Wilson, a private investigator for over thirty years, captures the maelstrom of Marion Parker's death in vivid detail. From the crime itself to the manhunt that followed, from the unprecedented trial to its aftermath, Wilson draws readers in to the birth of the celebrity criminal.
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About the Author
David G. Wilson worked for thirty years in the San Francisco Bay area with his own company providing investigative services. He was hired twice by the US Senate to investigate political corruption involving elected officials. In 1989 he made the first of seven trips to the West African Rain Forrest where he studied the philosophy, theology and rituals of the indigenous shamans. Based on these studies he has written ten books on traditional Yoruba culture and has lectured extensively on the topic. He lived for five years in Mexico where he studied the system of pyramids built throughout South America. He is currently living in New Mexico exploring sacred sites and working as a Jazz musician. He has three children and four grandchildren.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Marion Parker was 12-years-old when kidnapped and later murdered and dismembered by William Edward Hickman on December 15, 1927. He asked for $1500 ransom which was delivered by the child's father. The killer left only Marion's torso for her father ... her arms, legs and internal organs were delivered to the police at a later date. When arrested and charged, Hickman freely admitted that he had killed Marion Parker. Hickman's lawyers absolutely were against the death penalty. The best they could hope for would be something never tried before .. an insanity defense. Their argument was that he was so involved in watching theater movies, he was living in a fantasy world and did not know right from wrong. There are several parts to this book. The reader learns a little about Hickman, hears his own words about why he felt compelled to kill. We also hear about his aversion to real life .. his fantasy world in the movie theaters was his 'real world'. At the same time, there was a war on censorship in the entertainment field. Movie makers, theater owners were at loggerheads over who would set the standards of decency. This had all started when theaters were showing pictures of Marion Parker after she was killed. Several movie moguls were concerned that the Hickman case and his link to movies would kill the industry. During Hickman's trial, both defense and prosecuting attorneys were looking for psychiatrists who would testify the way they wanted. Psychiatrists weren't much respected or believed in the 1920s and there was no clear definition of insanity. The end of the book consists of what happened to all the players after .... This was an interesting read, but I would have liked to see more information concerning Hickman's early years and maybe not so much about Hollywood. Many thanks to the author / Diversion Books / Diversion Publicity / Netgalley who provided an ARC. All opinions expressed are my own.