In 1927, a schoolgirl’s murder leads to a Hollywood manhunt, a bizarre confession, and a landmark trial in this historical true crime.
Twelve-year-old Marion Parker was kidnapped from her Los Angeles school by an unknown assailant on December 15, 1927. The killer dropped her off a few days later, fleeing with the ransom money before Marion’s father discovered she had been brutally murdered. When William Edward 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 California, and it led to a national media frenzy. His lawyers argued that their client lived in a fantasy world, inspired by movies and unable to tell right from wrong. In a year when the first talking picture had just been released, the movie industry scrambled to protect itself from ruinous publicity. 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.
Author and private investigator David Wilson captures the maelstrom surrounding Marion Parker’s death in vivid detail. From the crime itself to the manhunt that followed, the unprecedented trial, and its dramatic aftermath, Wilson draws readers into this fascinating true account of the birth of the celebrity criminal.