December 27, 1927
Carlos Monroy, 35, was that precarious combination, a glazier and lush, and the missus no longer wished to live with him. So Anita, 29, took Carlos Junior, 10, and moved in with mama, Antonia Barron of 626 East 36th Place, while Carlos stayed with his mother and brother at 2915 New Jersey Street.
It being Christmas, Carlos found himself missing his family, and dropped by the Barron home, with a bottle of whiskey and a long line of apologies. Anita didn't want to hear it. She intended to be divorced, and further, she and her sister Leonora were going downtown to shop. Would he please leave?
Anita went to the bathroom, and Carlos followed her in, where he drew a razor from his coat pocket and slashed at her throat. Anita ran, bleeding and screaming, through the spare bedroom and into the dining room. Carlos finished her off there, then turned the blade on himself. Their son and the Barron women were witnesses to the carnage, then called for aid, though it was far too late for anything but tears.
San Fernando, CA
The body of an unidentified woman was discovered off of Mulholland St. (now called Foothill Blvd.) in San Fernando today.
Her hands were bound across her chest with twine. Her knees were bent, and her feet tied to her back with a length of cord. Her body had been wrapped in canvas. She had been struck in the forehead with a blunt instrument; however, a preliminary autopsy revealed that the blow was not hard enough to have killed her. Most likely, she was knocked unconscious by her assailant, tied up, then left to die of exposure.
The dead woman was approximately 45 years of age, and was found wearing a black crepe dress, "cheap cotton underwear," and hose. Her shoes had been removed. She had false upper teeth and a scar. She had been drinking the night she was beaten and left to die. She had been dead for approximately 24 hours before she was found, and lay in the San Fernando morgue for four days until she was identified as Amelia Appleby of 229 N. Hobart Blvd.
The fourth wife of a wealthy Chicago inventor, Appleby had inherited a $1 million estate upon his death, taken the money, and moved to California. She was not well-liked by her late husband's family, nor by her Los Angeles neighbors, who described her as "eccentric" and "a troublemaker." However, she did have one friend who cared enough to tell police what she knew. Prior to her death, Appleby was known to keep company with a "doctor" named Charles McMillan, 57. Appleby had confided to her friend that she feared McMillan would kill her if she refused to marry him.
McMillan was rounded up at his 531 S. Western Ave. apartment, where police found him poring over a stack of Appleby's personal papers. They later found more of her personal items, including her diamond jewelry, in McMillan's possession. Police investigators later found two versions of Appleby's will, one which left her estate to McMillan, and another which left it to a long-lost daughter, although her relatives claimed that she'd never had a child. Neither will was signed, and both were strongly suspected to be forgeries.
The evidence against McMillan was circumstantial, but strong. The stolen papers and jewels, a blood-stained jacket, the forged will, and the fact that he was the last person to be seen with Appleby were enough to convince jurors of his guilt. McMillan was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison on February 24, 1928.
December 25, 1927
It's a blue Christmas for the family of Marian Parker this year, though they may take some pleasure in the knowledge that accused killer William E. Hickman tried to kill himself today—both times conveniently in front of a guard (Hickman was planning an insanity defense). The child murderer celebrated the holiday in a Pendleton, Oregon jail cell, prior to being transported back to Los Angeles for trial. Guards reported that Hickman roused himself from hours of lethargy by tearing pages from a bible and scattering them on the floor. He then asked for a handkerchief, and when his jailer obliged, quickly knotted it around his throat and pulled tight. The guard rushed into the cell, where Hickman climbed to the top of his bunk and attempted to dive headfirst to the concrete floor. The State of California went on to accomplish what Hickman failed to on October 19, 1928.
December 24, 1927
Dominating newspaper headlines for the past several days has been the slaying of twelve year old school girl, Marion Parker. Her killer, William Edward Hickman, is currently in Oregon awaiting extradition. He’ll return by train under heavy guard to Los Angeles, where he faces the death penalty for the horrific crime.
Long before newspapers were delivered to the doorsteps of most American homes, information was spread by song – and it’s a practice that continues to this day. Ballads have been written about floods, mining disasters, shipwrecks, and murder. Marion Parker’s tragic story inspired prolific song writer Reverend Andrew Jenkins of Atlanta, Georgia to pen the poignant “Ballad of Marian [sic] Parker”.
The Ballad of Marian Parker
'Way out in California,
A family bright and gay
Were preparing for their Christmas
Not very far away.
They had a little daughter,
A sweet and pretty child.
And everyone who knew her
Loved Marian Parker's smile.
She left her home one morning
For her school not far away.
And no one dreamed that danger,
Was lurking near that day.
But then a murdrous villain,
A fiend with heart of stone,
Took little Marian Parker
Away from friends and home.
The world was horror-stricken,
The people held their breath,
Until they found poor Marian,
Her body cold in death.
They hunted for the coward,
Young Hickman was their man.
They brought him back to justice,
His final trial to stand.
The jury found him guilty,
Of course they could not fail.
He must be executed
Soon in San Quentin jail.
And while he waits his sentence,
Let's hope he learns to pray
To make his black soul ready
For the great judgement day.
There is a great commandment
That says, "Thou shalt not kill"
And those who do not head it,
Their cup of sorrow fill
January 23, 1927
Following up yesterday’s story about whether one Ray McCoy was lynched for looking too much like Edward Hickman…
The verdict of the Coroner’s jury? Jail officials and other prisoners, all vindicated. Nevertheless, it seems that Ralph “Ray McCoy” Fuller raised the ire of Angelenos in the grip of Hickman fever, whose Hickmanmania (Hickmania? Hickmentia?) led an angry mob to chase down and beat Fuller something fierce, believing the twenty year-old to be Hickman, after Fuller robbed a store at 242 South Main and was chased two blocks on foot.
Fellow prisoner Fred Meadows told the Times that once in the hoosegow, the sullen and reserved Fuller was regarded as just another popped burglar. Meadows related how he and the boys started playing “Sundown” in an outer tank and when he returned, Fuller had hanged himself with Meadows’ scarf. (Must be nice to have scarves. And pianos.)
In other lynching news, any and all information regarding Hickman’s departure and route from Pendleton (where he was exhibited in a cage like a circus animal) to Los Angeles County Jail is being kept under strict secrecy.
December 22, 1927
Let’s put up our feet and see what’s gone on in the world this day. Not much. The odd curiosity or two.
According to our concerned friends at the paper, it seems the Mexicans are making a menace of themselves, using flowers of the “hemp” plant as some sort of habit-forming drug (they’re such a resourceful people!). Apparently the Imperial Linen Products Company has blanketed the Imperial Valley with the stuff. Well, I’m sure the State will sort this one out to everybody’s satisfaction.
Oh dear, here’s another fellow who just couldn’t resist a final cigarette. Seems J. B. Smith left the wife at his Glendale home and checked into the LaViolette Hotel on North Maclay in San Fernando. He brought with him a stack of goodbye letters indicating his fears about going mad, and a loaf of bread—not for snacking, but for soaking in water and wadding into the wafty windows and drafty doors (my hat off again to the resourcefulness of our Southlanders). Of course, no-one banks on the dang’d jets taking so long. Thankfully J. B. also brought along a pack of smokes to pass the time…the hole blown in the wall was six feet in diameter. J. B.'s smoldering remains lived long enough to say goodbye to his wife at the hospital, but not much longer than that.
And oh my, it seems one of my favorite attractions of the stage, Sidney Barnes the Human Ostrich, has expired in New Orleans. After complaining of stomach pains, the Homo Struthio underwent an operation to remove a cigar box full of bolts, carpet tacks, razor blades, washers and nails from therein—Barnes did not emerge alive. Guess growing up to be a carnival side can be rough, kids!
And what do have we here…a Coroner’s inquest will be held at 1:30 today to determine whether Ralph McCoy, in City Jail on suspicion of robbery, actually hung himself in his cell or was killed by fellow prisoners—it seems McCoy bears (well, bore) a resemblance to one William Edward Hickman.
Oh yeah. Hickman. Some mention in the paper about him, too.
As Musso & Frank and their employees are a living testament to Hollywood and its golden age, so Craby Joe's is to downtown Los Angeles' tenderloin on Main street. At the corner of 7th and Main since 1933, it will close it doors for good on Xmas eve. It has served as a watering hole to John Fante, Charles Bukowski, and many other great souls who drew from this well of characters and atmosphere from the wrong side of the tracks.
The dance to the march of time has changed tempo of late, and commercial property owners humming gentrification and other popular tunes of the day have moved into the neighborhood. The Cecil Hotel, already on the skids when Raymond Chandler described it in his early short stories, can boast of two known serial killers as residents in the 1980s and 90s, Richard Ramirez one of them, is now a self described boutique hotel--a destination for the discerning European traveler. This fragile coral reef on Main Street of artists, galleries (the hub of art walk is two blocks away at 5th and Main at Bert Green's), SROs and their long time residents and encroaching development will suffer a severe blow with the close of Craby Joe's.
Please join us there around 10 pm this Xmas eve for what Hemingway wrote of the custom in his beloved Spain, "La Penultima--the next to last drink," for the last one is too bitter a thought. . .
December 20, 1927
As police scour the Bellevue Arms apartment*of "Donald Evans" (an alias for Marion Parker's purported slayer Edward Hickman, otherwise known as The Fox), they find portions of a chocolate cake, broken golf clubs, and dirty dishes suggesting a hurried departure. Marion's father Perry, upon discovering that the suspect is a former employee at his Seventh and Spring Street bank who he dismissed on fraud charges, says that the voice on the telephone demanding the $1500 ransom was similar to Hickman's peculiarly blasé speech patterns when discussing his offense, but that at no time did he believe the young man meant harm to him or his family.
Little Marion's outraged body lies in the morgue, a tiny, heartbreaking bundle with her missing limbs, hollowed core and unseeing eyes sewn open in doll-like pretence of life. In one small mercy, the Parker's neighbor is the Autopsy Surgeon, and it's this Dr. Wagner who makes the identification and pieces his little friend together from the parts that are brought in, wrapped in newspaper, from where they were scattered in Elysian Park.
The reward for The Fox' capture has swelled to $62,400, with new pledges from outraged citizens, radio stations and fraternal organizations arriving hourly. Will The Fox be snared, or will he slip away to menace other cities, other daughters? Tune in tomorrow to find out!
*attention, modern readers: the Bellevue Arms is the partly boarded up, expansive brick apartment building flush against the 101 freeway heading north out of downtown. The Fox' lair was upstairs in the middle rear of the Western, burned-out wing. If you decide to visit, you'll come via Sunset Boulevard, and via... MARION.
Holt excused Marion Parker from school on Thursday, December 15 when a slender man came to the desk and asked for "P.M. Parker's youngest daughter," saying that her father had been in an automobile accident. Holt hesitated, knowing that Marion was a twin. However, the man persisted, saying, "I am an employee at the bank where Mr. Parker is chief clerk, and if there is any doubt in your mind, here is the bank's telephone number. You may call there."
Convinced, Holt sent an office assistant to get Marian from class. "Marion was nervous and excited when I told her that her father had been injured. The news completely broke up a little Christmas party the children were having in their room, and Marion had some of the refreshments in her hands when she came into the room. But at once she forgot about everything but her father."
Marion was excused from school, and left with the man who would, three days later, end her life.
After the kidnapping, Holt said, "Oh, I can think of many things I could have done now. I never would have let Marion go but for the apparent sincerity and disarming manner of the man."
Private funeral services for 12-year-old Marion Parker were held today at the Little Church of Flowers at Forest Lawn Cemetery, after which her body was cremated. The search for her killer continues, with police and citizens as far away as Denver and Portland on the lookout for the Fox.
December 18, 1927
This morning's headline was set in the giant typeface reserved for only very good or very bad news. This time it was the latter: "Kidnaped [sic] Child Slain By Fiend." For three days now, Angelenos have followed the story of 12-year-old Marian Parker, lured away from Mount Vernon High School by a man who said her father was ill. The kidnapper demanded $1500 (close to $18,000 in 2007) for her safe return, and Marian's father agreed to pay it.
Shortly after 8 o'clock last night, the kidnapper drove up to the agreed-upon meeting place. Marian's small form was visible in the passenger seat. "Here's your child," he told Parker. "Give me the money and follow instructions. She's asleep now." The ransom changed hands; the criminal drove a short way and deposited Marian's blanket-wrapped figure on the lawn at 432 South Manhattan Place. Perry Parker rushed to his daughter, scooped her up and—in a waking nightmare that must have haunted him for the rest of his days—discovered she was dead, her eyes wired or sewn open in a hideous simulacrum of life. A wire was bound so tightly around her neck that it cut deeply into her flesh; she had been disemboweled and her legs hacked off close to her body. The Times was filled with stories comparing the Parker case to Leopold and Loeb and a host of other grisly child murderers. Crowds of bloodthirsty thrill seekers (the Times estimated over 25,000) thronged past the Parker household at 1631 South Wilton Place (address helpfully supplied by the paper).
The horror continued today. While most of Los Angeles was still reading its morning papers, citizens aiding the police found five gruesome bundles on a lonely road in Elysian Park. The first contained Marian's arms and legs; the last, found by "two small boys, carrying on the search," held her viscera. A blood-soaked suitcase previously discovered in the gutter at 620 South Manhattan place is believed to have held the child's body. Then, late this evening, the police found an abandoned Ford roadster, license number 667-67. It is believed to be the automobile driven by the kidnapper to the meeting with Marian's father.
A massive manhunt is underway for the fiendish killer.
December 17, 1927
Mrs. Ruth Snyder has a date with Sing Sing’s electric chair on January 12, 1928, unless her plea for executive clemency is granted.
The seductive blonde and her lover, corset salesman Judd Gray (see photo), were both tried and convicted of murdering Ruth’s husband by caving in his skull with a window sash weight, strangling him with a garrote fashioned out of picture wire and a gold pen, and finally stuffing chloroform soaked rags into his nostrils.
If there is an explanation for the obvious overkill in the murder of Albert Snyder, it must be that Ruth’s previous attempts to snuff out the life of her husband (twice by asphyxiation and once by poison) had failed – and she wasn’t about to give up. Ruth had persuaded her husband to take out a double indemnity policy, which would pay her in the event of his accidental death. It was the lure of the $97,000 worth of life insurance that compelled her to continue with her diabolical schemes until she succeeded.
Fueled by two bottles of whiskey and profound stupidity, the criminally-challenged duo staged the murder scene as a burglary gone horribly wrong. But their pathetic plan was doomed to failure. They threw an Italian language newspaper on the floor as a false clue to the identity of the killers. They emptied dresser drawers and overturned chairs. And in an act that would eventually help prosecutors to prove her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, Ruth hid her allegedly stolen jewelry under her mattress, about three feet away from Albert’s battered body!
The trial of Ruth and Judd would be a media circus, and celebrities such as director D.W. Griffith, and evangelists Billy Sunday and Aimee Semple McPherson would attend. Ruth would be called “ruthless Ruth”, “vampire”, and the “blonde fiend” by the press. Evidently not all men found those appellations a turn-off, because Ruth received at least 160 marriage proposals during her incarceration.
Unfortunately for Ruth, her plea for clemency would be denied by Governor Al Smith. Her execution would be famously recorded by newspaper man Tom Howard. The ingenious reporter had strapped a miniature camera to his ankle beneath his trousers. Just as the executioner threw the switch on the whimpering murderess, Tom raised the cuff of his pants and snapped the tabloid photo of a lifetime.
The murderers were unexceptional, but their crime inspired art. “Machinal”, a play by Sophie Treadwell was deemed one of the best of 1928-29. James M. Cain’s brilliant novels “Double Indemnity” and “The Postman Always Rings Twice” are said to have been inspired by Albert Snyder’s murder. And, of course, each of the novels translated into two of the finest examples of film noir ever produced.
December 16, 1927
Los Angeles Police Captain W. L. Hagenbaugh feeds more juice into the stills of Sawtelle than he gets from them; after he raids the moonshiners and chops up their contraptions of copper and coil, he fashions fixtures and floor lamps for his new nine-room Spanish job up on Comstock in Westwood.
Recently, materials from three forty gallon bootleg stills, lined in some very fine silver, have been reclaimed from their sinful ways and turned toward this honest enterprise.
This writer’s inquisitive interests now satisfied—yeah, you’re green, I get it—my acquisitive interest takes over: where are these shades now?
December 15, 1927
Miss Grace Shannon, national secretary of our own YWCA, has just returned from Turkey, and good news: there’s no Dumb Doras there! Sure, it’s all right for a man to have four wives (“to which every good Mussulman says ‘Amen,’” chuckles Ms. Shannon), but the crafty gals there under Atatürk (we say atagirl!) have found some loophole that goes on to contradict such (referring to the famous Koranic Koran 4:3/Koran 4:129 Paradox). Yes, it seems the new republic’s progressive divorce laws and campaigns for women’s sufferage have made it a veritable heaven on earth for the gentler gender.
December 14, 1927
The holiday is nearly upon us, and all across the city, citizens are Christmas mad. The Pacific Electric Hollywood car stalled, halfway through the First Street tunnel, and when the wire fell down and sent sparks arcing across the darkened windows, scads of package-laden shoppers panicked and stampeded, despite attempts by train staff to calm them. Several passengers suffered bruised knees, ankles and backs.
There's naught but sadness at 4528 Amber Place, where the John Vernon Rosses mourn the death of their only child, John Vernon, Jr., aged 4. Mother was working days and father nights in downtown shops, to save enough to give the tyke his best Christmas ever, while a neighbor, Mrs. J.W. Loyal of 4600 Topaz Street watched the babe. When mother called for him around 1pm, he was dead in his cot, victim of some mysterious internal hemorrhage. An autopsy was ordered, but if any cause of death was found, it was never reported in the papers.
And down on Wilton Place, the Parker Twins, Marion and Marjorie, whisper together about what to give their father Perry for his birthday tomorrow. They cannot know that tomorrow Marion will be kidnapped from her school by The Fox, and that despite the ransom Perry pays, she will never come home again.
The Van Pelt family received a note reading: "You are to be killed tonight at 10pm sharp."
The Westons were warned, "Highway bandits will rob your house tonight."
And then, the cryptic letter received by the Simingtons: "Beware of the goat. He is watching you."
Today, Glendale police revealed that two bored 12-year-old girls named Dorothy Alman and May White were responsible for the threats which kept the neighborhood "on the verge of nervous spasms for several days."