Episode 8: A Lawyer, an Author, and a Murderer – The Trial of William Edward Hickman

“The most horrible crime of the 1920s”

William Edward Hickman Ep8 Image Words To That Effect

The case of William Edward Hickman went to trial in Los Angeles in 1928. The accused was charged with the gruesome murder of a 12-year-old girl, and he faced the death penalty. The trial was reported all across the U.S. because it was the culmination of a horrific tale of murder and kidnapping which had gripped the entire nation.

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The courtroom was packed for Hickman’s trial. Defence and prosecution attorneys looking to make a name for themselves in one of the most high-profile trials of the decade. The public gathered to get a glimpse at this young man who had so violently murdered a little girl.

But among all these people, this episode focuses on two. Two very different men, with very different opinions…

There is no guest in this week’s episode, just the story of a murder which takes in psychiatry, heredity, and a world-famous writer.



Learning To Growl Album Cover (Words To That Effect Podcast William Edward Hickman Ep)Music this week was by Overhead, The Albatross. Their 2016 album, Learning To Growl is available for download here

Tracks, in the order played:


Theme For a Promise

Leave It To My Ghost

Indie Rose


Marion Parker ballads (her name was often misspelled as “Marian”) were widespread in the period after Marion’s murder and the Hickman trial. The clip heard on the podcast is Vernon Dalhart “Little Marian Parker”, Columbia 15218-D . It can be heard in full here


Works Mentioned

Edgar Rice Burroughs’ coverage of the trial can be found here. This is from ERBzine.com, the amazingly useful resource for all things ERB.

Richard H. Cantillon’s book on his experiences at the trial is In Defense of the Fox: The Trial of William Edward Hickman (Atlanta, Georgia: Droke House/Hallux, 1972)


Want to know more about Burroughs? There’s an article on his work here. The episode it relates to is on the canals of Mars and you can listen here


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