The Los Angeles Police Museum is looking for antique coins tied to a manhunt that focused national attention on Pendleton in 1927.

The museum is seeking coins people had pressed on the railroad tracks by the train William Edward Hickman rode to Los Angeles, on his way to be tried for the brutal murder of a 12-year-old girl. Hickman was hanged in October 1928 for kidnapping, strangling and dismembering the body of Marion Parker, according to East Oregonian archives.

“The coins were souvenirs because this was a case of such national concern,” said museum executive director Glynn Martin. “The whole thing is what movies are made of — the tragedy behind it all it would be an incredible story.”

Hickman was arrested less than a week after Marion Parker’s body was found in a Los Angeles park in December 1927.

A Pendleton police chief and state police officer found him driving a stolen car between Pendleton and Echo.

Hickman had become so notorious by the time of his arrest, it was a wonder nobody lynched him as he boarded a Union Pacific train in Pendleton to meet his fate in Los Angeles.

“There (were) literally mobs of people that they’ve got to wade through to get to the train,” Martin said.

The manhunt for Hickman drew 20,000 participants across the West including police officers, American Legion volunteers and enraged citizens.

Hickman was the first murder suspect to plead insanity in the Los Angeles court system, and his six-page written confession — on display at the museum — was so articulate it still astounds police.

“It’s not something you would get associated with somebody that committed a crime that was just this ugly,” Martin said.

The 19-year-old planned to use the $1,500 ransom he received from Parker’s father — supposedly in exchange for the safe return of his daughter — to attend Park College near Kansas City, Kan.

Martin said the museum will only accept pressed coins made in 1927 or earlier, but otherwise has no way of officially verifying their authenticity.

“You’d have to take somebody’s word for it,” he said. “I was hoping if we went to the source the likelihood would be much greater that it was a true Hickman coin than something somebody conjured up after the fact.”

Museums often receive such artifacts from families who pass them down with some sort of legend, said Barbara Lund-Jones, executive director of the Umatilla County Historical Museum.

The police museum will credit anyone who donates coins to the exhibit, or pay them for the souvenirs.

For more information, contact the Los Angeles Police Museum at 323-344-9445 or email info@lapolicemuseum.org.

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Contact Chris Rizer at crizer@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0836.

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