William Edward Hickman

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William Edward Hickman was an early 20th century American kidnapper and child murderer who called himself "The Fox".

The kidnapping and murder of Marion Parker[edit]

On 15 December 1927, Hickman kidnapped Marion Parker -- the 12-year-old daughter of Los Angeles banker Perry Parker -- and ransomed her. However, before Parker could pay the ransom, Hickman killed little Marion. He decapitated, dismembered and disemboweled her.[note 1]

When Hickman met Parker to collect the ransom, he placed the reassembled parts of Marion's body in the passenger seat of a parked car. He had stitched Marion's eyes open so her father would think that she was still alive. When Parker gave Hickman the ransom money, Hickman jumped into the car and sped off. At the end of the block, Hickman opened the door and shoved Marion's body parts out onto the street and sped away.

Because Hickman had stuffed towels from the flophouse where he was staying into Marion's torso, his identity was quickly traced. He was caught a week later in the northeastern Oregon town of Echo. He later confessed to a dozen armed robberies and at least one more murder. He was hanged for his crimes on 19 October 1928 at the age of 20.[1]

Objectivist hero (of a sort)[edit]

So, why does this piece of human excrement warrant a page on RW? Because it turns out that Hickman became a hero to none other than Ayn Rand. In the Journals of Ayn Rand, she wrote that she attempted to write a novel titled The Little Street. The novel's hero, Danny Renahan, was "suggested" by Hickman, but "with a purpose. And without the degeneracy." Rand viewed Hickman as having a "wonderful, free, light consciousness" regarding "the necessity, meaning, or importance of other people."[2] Although The Little Street was never completed, Rand took what she saw as the most compelling aspects of Hickman and his crimes, and incorporated these characteristics into many of her later protagonists, including the vaunted John Galt. Those compelling aspects included:

  • A purely self-centered hero who was willing to do whatever it took to achieve certain goals;
  • An unimaginative society that (in Rand's eyes) had committed worse crimes than the hero. When faced with the acts of Rand's hero, this shortsighted society -- in the ultimate act of psychological projection -- united in an effort to utterly destroy said hero.[3]


Due to the notoriety of the case, the murder was actually made into an episode of the old Dragnet Radio Serial. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent. (That and a few other details for the broadcasting standards at the time)


  1. Because he disemboweled her, it was impossible to determine if he had also sexually molested Marion.


  1. "William Edward Hickman", Murderpedia webpage.
  2. Prescott, Michael. "Romancing the Stone-Cold Killer: Ayn Rand and William Hickman", crime author Michael Prescott's website, ©2005.
  3. Siabarra, Chris Matthew. "A Renaissance in Rand Scholarship", Reason Papers, 23 (Fall 1998): 132-59. (NYU website reissue)