Serial killers : the serial homicide case of the day

The Serial Homicide Case of the Day, from "Hunting Humans, the Encyclopedia of 20th Century Serial Killers" , by Michael Newton

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  Hickson, Monroe

Police mug shot of Monroe Hickson.

A native of South Carolina, Hickson logged his first arrest there in 1931; convicted of assault with intent to kill, he was sentenced to five years in prison and paroled after two, in 1933. In 1942 he was sentenced to serve eighteen months on a larceny conviction. Five years later, a robbery at New Holland, South Carolina, earned him twenty years. With time off for good behavior, he was paroled in April 1957.

Through the years, Hickson's pattern of crimes had run toward petty robberies accompanied by violence; in his last known job, the "loot" had been some clothing and a pistol. No one in authority suspected that this black man -- nicknamed "Blue Boy" -- was in fact the slayer of at least four persons, sought for crimes that terrorized the neighborhood of Aiken during 1946.

On August 7, 1957, Hickson entered Lucy Parker's dry goods store, in Graniteville, and beat her up before escaping with the petty cash. Arrested August 8, he sat in jail nine days before astounding officers with his confession to a string of unsolved crimes.

According to his affidavit, Hickson was responsible for the ax murder of David Garrett, an Aiken storekeeper bludgeoned and robbed on April 17, 1946; the crime had netted Hickson a pistol and $22 in cash. Eleven days later, he used the stolen gun to murder Mr. and Mrs. Edward Bennett in their grocery store, making off with seven or eight dollars and another gun. Questioned by a posse on that occasion, Hickson had not been detained. On September 28, 1946, he invaded Annie Wiseberg's home, in Aiken, stealing five dollars after he beat her to death with a piece of firewood. The sole survivor of his spree was Christine Cholakis, employed at a local liquor store. Hickson parted her hair with a brick on December 4, 1946, escaping with seven dollars, but his final victim lived to tell the tale.

While Hickson was at large or doing time on other charges, L.D. Harris was convicted of the Bennett homicides, condemned to die in the electric chair . An appeal to the United States Supreme Court saved his life, but he remained in prison until Hickson's confession finally cleared his name in 1957.

Convicted on four counts of murder, Hickson was sentenced to a term of life plus twenty years. On March 10, 1966, he escaped from the state prison at Columbia, South Carolina, and was declared a federal fugitive on charges of unlawful flight to avoid confinement. His name was added to the FBI's "Most Wanted" list on February 17, 1967.

By that time, unknown to the FBI, their man was already dead. While hiding in New Bern, North Carolina, under the alias "Willie Tyler," Hickson had fallen ill in early December. Transferred from New Bern's hospital to a larger facility in Chapel Hill, he died of natural causes on December 29. Federal agents traced him there a year later, and his remains were finally identified, from fingerprints , on January 30, 1968.

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