Butterfly in the Rain: The 1927 Abduction and Murder of Marion Parker

James L. Neibaur. Rowman & Littlefield, $38 (224p) ISBN 978-1-4422-5119-9
It's hard to imagine a more depressing narrative than the kidnap-murder recounted by film historian Neibaur (The Fall of Buster Keaton) in this intriguing but embellished account of the crime. In 1927, a man entered a Los Angeles elementary school and asked to take 12-year-old Marion Parker out of school, claiming that her father, Perry, had been in an accident. Despite indications that the man was lying, the teacher released the child. That night, the Parkers received a telegram from the kidnapper, the first in a series of demands that ended tragically. When Perry finally handed over the ransom, after seeing Marion and believing her to be alive, he received a bundle that contained the dismembered corpse of his daughter, her eyes sewn open to simulate life. A fingerprint the killer left behind led to his swift identification and apprehension, and much of the book focuses on the perpetrator, William Edward Hickman, a 19-year-old who had been fired from Perry's bank for forging checks. Neibaur follows the crime, short investigation, and trial as well as the national uproar over the horrific crime. The latter included criticism of the motion picture industry after Hickman's love of movies became known. Sections narrating the killer's inner thoughts will raise questions for readers about the author's sources, but otherwise Neibaur puts forth a fast-paced, highly readable book for those who can tolerate the gruesome nature of the crime. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/14/2016
Release date: 02/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4422-5120-5
Show other formats
Discover what to read next