Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Pendleton lawmen capture Los Angeles killer near Echo

A nationwide manhunt was brought to a close near Echo in December 1927 when two Pendleton lawmen captured William Edward “The Fox” Hickman. Hickman was wanted for the kidnapping and murder of 12-year-old Marian Parker of Los Angeles, and was on the run when state police officer C.L. “Buck” Lieuallen and Pendleton police chief Tom Gurdane stopped his stolen car just outside of Echo on December 22.

Marian Parker disappeared from her school in Los Angeles December 15, 1927, after she was released with a note saying she was needed at home. Hickman allegedly picked her up outside the school and then delivered a ransom note to the girl’s father, signed “The Fox.” The father agreed to the ransom and paid it, and the kidnapper said he would drive down the street and let Marian out of the car. Marian’s father was following the kidnapper’s vehicle and saw a bundle tossed out of the car. He found his daughter’s dismembered body inside the bundle. The kidnapper was quickly identified as William Hickman, a Los Angeles resident originally from Kansas City.

Early investigation of the kidnapping and murder was slow until a $20 bill known to be part of the ransom turned up in Seattle. A green Hudson sedan also was stolen in the area at about the same time. A service station attendant in Portland identified Hickman as someone who had bought gas there on December 22, and he told police the car was headed east. A short time later the East Oregonian received a report from the Associated Press about the sighting of Hickman, and editor E.B. Aldrich phoned local and county police with the news.

Sheriff R.T. Cookingham set up in Umatilla in case Hickman decided to head north. Chief Gurdane and Officer Lieuallen pulled up near Echo and were just lighting their pipes when the green Hudson drove by, heading east. Lieuallen took up the chase and soon pulled up next to Hickman at 40 mph with Gurdane on the running board, pointing a pistol at the other driver. Hickman pulled over and when Gurdane pulled open the Hudson’s door a pistol dropped to the floorboard from where Hickman was holding it between his knees. He surrendered without a struggle and was taken to Pendleton, where he was lodged in the jail.

Newspaper reporters from around the country descended on Pendleton for the story, and hundreds of people crowded into the jail to get a look at the prisoner. Hickman was taken back to Los Angeles where he was tried, convicted and hanged.

Gurdane and Lieuallen also traveled to Los Angeles, where they were feted by officials, motion picture celebrities and others. They took the stage at the Pantages theater in LA and later San Francisco, where they described the arrest and lectured on law enforcement in front of hundreds of people. They also split a $5,000 reward for Hickman’s capture.

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