The Want Ad Killer, Part 2

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Dolly McCormick witnessed the fatal shooting of Andrew “Andy” Kmiec by a man who had posed as a prospective buyer for Kmiec’s 1953 Mercury convertible. She was fortunate to have escaped with her life.

After she had directed  deputies to the scene of Andy’s shooting, Dolly was transported to the Norwalk Sheriff’s Station to be interviewed by Lt. A.W. Etzel and Det. Sgt. Ned Lovretovich.

Det. Loveretovich first asked Dolly questions to establish her relationship to the deceased. She told the detective that she and Andy weren’t in a serious relationship, but they had been dating for about two months.

She said that Andy lived on Beverly Glen with a roommate, Alex Milne, and the two men appeared to get along well. As far as she knew Andy didn’t have any enemies, despite what his killer had said about having been hired to do away with him.

Neither Andy nor Dolly were California natives — Andy’s car still bore Indiana license plates, and Dolly had only recently moved to North Hollywood from Prairie Grove, Arkansas to live with her cousin, a television advertising executive.  Andy had come to Southern California during WWII and, like thousands of other veterans, decided to make it his permanent home a few years later. Dolly, too, was looking for a life different than the one she’d had in Arkansas.

Andy Kmiec was described by his employer, friends, and acquaintances as a decent guy, liked by everyone who knew him. Det. Lovretovich couldn’t find anyone who had even disliked Andy, let alone hated him enough to hire someone to kill him.

Dolly was questioned in detail about the events of the evening of the slaying from the moment that Andy arrived in North Hollywood to pick her up for their date.

On the drive downtown to the Biltmore Hotel, Andy told Dolly:

“This is sort of an odd situation. I have never heard of a
business transaction carried on this way.”

When they arrived at the Biltmore, Andy asked Dolly to wait in the car while he went into the hotel to find the prospect. He arrived a few minutes later and introduced Dolly to the stranger — but she couldn’t recall the man’s name.

She described him to Det. Loveretovich as being approximately 45-50 years old, about 5′ 10″, with blondish brown hair. He was wearing a tan suede jacket with knit ribbing at the collar and cuffs and tan pants. She said the man needed a shave badly, but that he was otherwise unremarkable. He was wearing a pair of gold metal, rimless, bifocal eye glasses.

Dolly became uncomfortable during the drive to Whittier because the stranger told conflicting stories about his employment. He had first implied that he owned a pottery
business in Santa Ana, then moments later said he was the plant’s supervisor. What really alarmed Dolly was when the man seemed unable to provide concise directions to his own home.

The pretty sales clerk went on to describe what happened after the man had told Andy to park the car. She said that he produced a gun, showed it to Andy and said:

“You know what this is.”

Andy said yes, of course he knew that it was a gun — then he offered the stranger his wallet, the car, anything if he would leave.

The stranger said that he’d been hired to “take care” of Andy, and that he was being well paid for the job.

Andy continued to plead, but the man forced him into the back seat of the Mercury at gun point. Dolly was made to drive the car with the stranger sitting next to her.

Right before they pulled to a stop the man said to Dolly:

“It’s too bad that you had to be an innocent bystander, but as long as you do what I tell you to do I promise I won’t hurt you.”

Suddenly the man leaned over into the back seat and fired — Dolly heard Kmiec gasp, and then saw him clutch his chest. The man fired again and Dolly jumped out of the car. She felt something tug on the belt of her dress but she didn’t know if it was the assailant or if she’d caught it on the door handle. The belt ripped away from her dress as she scrambled to get away.

Dolly had left behind her in the car a black, faille purse with a gold clasp, her coat, and a Cosmopolitan magazine.Cosmopolitan-November-1953-1

Once she got to intersection of Lakeland and Painter she flagged down a a passing motorist. She got into the car and said:

“A man’s just been shot. Will you take me to the police, or some place where I can call the police, as quickly as possible?”

She was taken to a drug store where she phoned the Sheriff’s Department.

Det. Lovretovich gleaned what he could from Dolly’s statement, but it wasn’t much. He had a description of the killer, which could fit thousands of men in Los Angeles, and a description of the weapon, which appeared to have been a revolver with a long barrel. The only decent physical evidence was a pair of eye glasses found at the scene and, if they were lucky, they might be able to ID fingerprints left in blood.

Alex Milne, Andy’s roommate, was the next to be questioned by Det. Lovretovich. Alex said he was employed as a test pilot by Lockheed in Burbank. He’d known Andy for about ten months and they had been rooming together in a house on Beverly Glen for a few months prior to the murder.


From his interview it was clear that Alex was the quintessential ’50s swinging bachelor. He dropped the names of a few of his actor friends like Don Haggerty, and John Bromfield and his wife Corrine Calvert. He seemed like a guy who wanted to make an impression.

When asked if they ever had any arguments, Alex said that he and Andy got along fine. Det. Lovretovich wanted to know if he and his roommate ever went out with the same girls. Alex admitted that they had, but it was not a big deal. He told Ned that he’d fixed Andy up a few times with women he’d previously dated — he even shared that Andy had “made the team” a couple of times with some of them. Of course those girls were simply “pieces of ass” as far as Alex was concerned.  When Det. Lovretovich asked if the women were hustlers, Alex said no, they were airline stewardesses!

stew1After learning more than he probably ever wanted to know about Alex’s social life, Ned Lovretovich and the others assigned to the case continued to follow-up every lead, trying to get a break.

Detectives hoped that the bloody eye glasses found at the scene would crack the Kmeic case, just as a pair of specs had lead Chicago cops to Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb in 1924. Leopold and Loeb were convinced they’d committed the perfect crime, a thrill killing, when they murdered 14 year old Bobby Franks. The prescription eye glasses proved them wrong.


As Sheriff’s investigators continued to probe for answers, Andy Kmiec’s body was sent by air to East Chicago, Indiana, for burial.

As it turned out, Andy Kmiec’s killer wouldn’t be identified by his eye glasses, but rather by the sharp eyes of a Sheriff’s records clerk.

NEXT TIME: The Sheriffs make an arrest in Andy Kmiec’s murder.

Aggie and The Fox, Part Four: The Fox Must Hang!

scientific_evidenceOn December 26, 1927 on a train taking him from Pendleton, Oregon to Los Angeles William Edward Hickman confessed to the senseless slaughter of twelve year old school girl, Marion Parker. He told District Attorney Keyes, Chief of Detectives Cline, and Chief of Police Davis that “I am ready to talk. I want to tell the whole story.” The cops said later that Hickman seemed to enjoy recounting details of the kidnapping, murder, and dismemberment.

Hickman admitted that he’d had no accomplice. He said that his motive for the kidnapping was to get $1500 to go to college, he claimed he wanted to go to bible school. And his motive for killing Marion? Hickman said : “I was afraid she would make a noise.” He had murdered her the day following the kidnapping.

The story Hickman told was beyond comprehension.  He said that he had killed Marion by strangling her with a towel. He had knotted it around her throat and pulled it tightly for two minutes before she became unconscious. Once Marion was out, Hickman took his pocket knife and cut a hole in her throat to draw blood. He took her to the bathtub and drained her body of blood.

He cut each arm off at the elbow, and her legs at the knees. Her put her limbs in a cabinet. He removed Marion’s clothing and cut through her body at the waist. At some point during the mutilations he realized that he would lose the ransom he’d demanded if he wasn’t able to produce the kidnapped girl when he arrived at the rendezvous with her father. He wrapped the exposed ends of her arms and waist with paper. He combed her hair, powdered her face and then with a needle and thread he sewed open her eyelids. He wanted to give Perry Parker the illusion that his little girl was still alive.

Local newspapers became obsessed with youthful perpetrators — Hickman was only nineteen. The Record (where Aggie Underwood was watching the case against The Fox unfold) published a photo of Hickman alongside one of Riichard Loeb under the headline: “Why Youths Commit Most Brutal Murders”.

Hickman1-2The photos of Hickman and Loeb compared their features in an attempt to reveal the outward signs of a homicidal youth.  The two young men look nothing alike to me, but that didn’t keep The Record from stating that their “sheik-like hair cuts with side burns, prominent foreheads, deep-set yes, straight and regular noses, and full lips with similar chins” were signs of a killer.  In particular the eyebrows of the young men were described as “one being straighter and lower placed than the other” which, said The Record, was known as a “stigmata of moral degeneracy”!

Richard Loeb was one of a pair of teenage wanna be Nietzschean supermen (his accomplice was Nathan Leopold) who, in 1924, kidnapped and murdered fourteen year old Robert “Bobby” Franks in Chicago. People around the country were horrified that two young men, both of whom came from wealthy families, could commit murder based on their belief that they were superior beings and, as Leopold had written to Loeb: “…exempted from the ordinary laws which govern men.”

The teenagers must have been shocked to discover that they were not exempted from ordinary laws.  In fact,  the two killers would have paid for the crime with their lives if not for their attorney Clarence Darrow. Darrow’s only mandate was to save them from execution, and in that he was successful.

While Hickman was being tried for Marion Parker’s murder, he was also being investigated for a series of pharmacy robberies, one of which had ended in the cold-blooded killing of druggist Ivy Thoms on December 24, 1926. Sixteen year old Welby Hunt was eventually identified as Hickman’s accomplice and he promptly confessed to his part in the fatal drugstore robbery. His confession saved him from hanging. Nothing would save The Fox.

Welby Hunt and William Hickman [Photo is courtesy of LAPL.]

Welby Hunt and William Hickman [Photo is courtesy of LAPL.]

Hickman didn’t have the same advantages as Leopold and Loeb, and he wasn’t represented by Clarence Darrow. He was, according to the district attorney, “…certain to hang”. Hickman was one of the first in the state to try the newly established plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, but the jury didn’t buy it. They knew he was evil, but that wasn’t the same thing as being insane.

On February 14, 1928 The Record put out an extra edition with the headline ‘Fox to Hang on April 27″. Hickman and Hunt were each found guilty for the robbery/homicide and each was given a life sentence. The robbery/homicide trial and the inevitable appeals on his death sentence for Marion Parker’s murder delayed Hickman’s date with the hangman, but only for a few months.

HICMAN_HANGSOn October 19, 1928 at San Quentin, William Edward Hickman was taken to the gallows where he fainted as the black hood was placed over his head. According to reports his body sagged and fell sideways  He was unconscious when the hangman raised his hand and three men with poised knives behind a screen on the gallows platform drew the blades simultaneously across three strings. One of the strings released the trap and Hickman slipped through. It took fifteen minutes for him to die. There was a dispute over whether his shortened plunge caused his neck to break, or if he had strangled to death — as Marion Parker had done less than a year before.