HISTORICALLY SPEAKING (shorts from 1927 Garfield Enterprise newspaper):
January 1st, 2016 by — LuJane Nisse
Taken from Garfield Enterprise December 30, 1927
Local boys rode with Hickman
Jack and Bill Merrill sons of Mr. and Mrs. V. Merrill of Garfield, upon returning Sunday afternoon from Pendeton tell about their experience in riding with William Hickman, confessed Los Angeles kidnapper and murderer, and of being lodged in the Pendleton jail for over two days when they were found riding in the automobile with Hickman when he was captured. In an interview with an Enterprise reporter they told the following story:
They were walking along the highway about two miles out of the brougham sedan overtook them and one of the boys hailed the driver. He stopped the car and the two boys got into the front seat with him. They rode for nearly 140 miles with Hickman, or within about 20 miles of Pendleton without realizing who they were riding with. Hickman told them he was attending college at Olympia and was driving to Salt Lake. He seemed worried over the condition of the roads over the mountains to the east and wondered if there was too much snow for a car to get through. He seemed to be sleepy and nearly ran of the road a number of times. He did not, however, offer to let the boys drive.
Hickman carried a .45 Colt automatic in his lap and said he had it for protection along the highway. He opened the window and fired the gun to show the boys how it worked and then handed it to them to look over. He then kept the gun in his lap until captured. A sawed-off shotgun was found in the floorboards under the front seat, fully loaded, and two pistols in his suitcase when it was searched at the jail.
The Merrill boys said Hickman stopped at Arlington to buy gas and oil. He had very little to say on the road, his chief concern being the condition of the road over the mountains.
When the Hickman car met the police officers who captured him, one of he boys said, “There’s a copy,” and Hickman replied, “Oh, is it?” He did not speed up the car, however, and when the police car drew up with them and blew the siren he readily pulled up and stopped. Hickman was not nervous when stopped, but the boys said the officers were excited.
Hickman gave the name of Mr. Peck and said he was from Portland. His license showed it had been issued to a Los Angeles man so the officers told him to get out. When he did so the automatic dropped to the running board. The officers then pulled off his hat and dark glasses, but Hickman did not admit his identity until on the way to Pendleton. The boys had no suspicioned who they were riding with until the officers pulled off his disguise, as Hickman was driving a blue Chrysler coupe when they had last seen an account of the kidnapping. Had they recognized Hickman they say they could easily have captured him a number of times.
A second police car drove up soon after the capture and Hickman and three officers entered the Hudson car and the Merrill boys and another officer returned to Pendleton in another car.
The Merrill boys said that Hickman was jolly and laughed and talked after being lodged in jail and told of his criminal record and of kidnapping the Parker girl. He told of cashing on of the marked $20 bills at a theatre in Seattle, but he believed that the girl at the window recognized him so he did not attend the show, but walked to his car instead and drove out of town. When relating his story he would say: “Now get this part, this is going to be good,” when referring to the times he had fooled the police.
The boys said Hickman was “pretty smart” and seemed to be normal as far as they could see. However, when the Los Angeles officers arrived Hickman threw a fit, which lasted perhaps 15 minutes. He would pull at his tongue and nose and poke his finger in his eyes, and scream. His eyes turned glassy and rather bloodshot and he rolled on the floor of his cell. The boys said if he was acting he knew his part well.
After being lodged in jail the boys asked Hickman why he didn’t tell them who he was when the officers overtook them and he said he was sorry he didn’t but he had too much to think about.
The boys were released from the Pendleton jail on Saturday evening and returned to Garfield Sunday afternoon. The Merrills have lived here about four months and the boys had spent about two months here previously. They say they would not take a great deal for the experience.