Wineville part III: The Hickman case (and some notes on reporting)


Photo at right comes from the archives of the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner at the Los Angeles City Library. Here’s the caption:

Gordon Stewart Northcott the opposing batteries of attorneys, his four guards and some of the witnesses at his trial in Riverside for the murder of the Winslow brothers. Seated at the counsel table are, left to right, Deputy District Attorney Earle Redwine; Loyal C. Kelley, associate prosecution counsel; A. H. DeTremaudan, defense attorney; J. McKinley Cameron, defense attorney; David Sokol, defense attorney; Northcott; Norbert Savay, chief defense attorney. The four guards standing at right are, left to right, Deputy Sheriffs T. J. Burn, Ben deCrevecoeur, Carl Raeburn and Tex Boyles. In the background are witnesses and spectators.

Among those things we struggle with in reporting crimes stories are names — and correct spellings.

When Manling Williams was arrested in 2007 on suspicion of killing her husband and two young boys, several spellings of her name appeared on the Internet and in various publications: Man-ling. Man Ling, Manling. Originally we went with Man-ling, but in recent stories we’ve switched to Manling, which is how court papers refer to her.

A similar problem presented itself this summer with Christopher Chichester/Clark Rockefeller/Christian Gerhartsreiter.

Reporters in the 1920s faced similar articles. In Tuesday’s blog entry, I transcribed an article referring to Gordon Stewart Northcott as Gordon Stuart Northcott. Years ago it wouldn’t have been a problem, with the Internet and specilized search tools.. you get the picture.

Anyway in the months before Northcott came to national prominence for is role in the kidnapping and killing of four young boys, Los Angeles was gripped by the story of Edward Hickman. 

In December 1927, Hickman kidnapped Marion Parker from her junior high school, and held the girl for ransom.

While hatching a plot to get money from Marion’s family, Hickman killed the girl and dismembered her.

Here’s a portion of the Wikipedia entry on the case:

On December 19, Parker delivered the ransom in Los Angeles but in return Hickman delivered the girl’s dismembered body. Her arms and legs had been severed and her internal organs removed. A towel stuffed into her body to absorb blood led police to Hickman’s apartment building, but he managed to escape. A $100,000 reward was offered for his capture, and for nearly a week Hickman eluded capture.

When Northcott was captured on suspicion of killing Walter Collins, he talked about Hickman incessantly. Court testimony revealed that Northcott had bragged about being bigger than Hickman. His nephew told jurors that Northcott was convinced that he had learned from the Hickman case and would get away with it.

Just like Hickman, Northcott was executed at San Quentin.


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