Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Original Stockholm Syndrome

I wanted to do some research on the killing of Siskiyou County sheriff's deputy Jesse Bo Hittson by Patrick "Hooty" Croy, a Karuk and Shasta Native American, in 1978. However, a google of Jesse Hittson led instead to the story of John Nathan Hittson, a Texas Sheriff in 1860. Hittson was called from the home of his family, including grandfather Jesse Hittson, to help find the Comanche kidnappers of Cynthia Parker.
The Parker family had been killed 24 years earlier by a band of raiders from several tribes. Nine year old Cynthia and five other family members were taken captive. A baby was soon killed because she cried too much. The other family members were ransomed over the next six years, but Cynthia was sold to a Comanche band, taken into the tribe, and eventually married Peta Nokona, a comanche warrior, with whom she had three children. When sighted by whites, she refused to speak English. Eventually, in 1860, she was forcibly rescued, along with her daughter, Topsanna, and reunited with white relatives. But her soul was Comanche, and she longed to return. Three years later, her daughter died, and Cynthia refused to eat until she also died. This was probably the real life story behind the novel "The Searchers." It was also a theme of the Kevin Costner movie, "Dances with Wolves." In the book, the Indians were Comanche, although the movie made them Cheyenne.

The rest of this story is that Parker's son Quanah, who was not "rescued," eventually became chief of the Comanche tribe. He was a successful war leader who supposedly never lost a battle, but surrendered in 1875, facing starvation due to lack of buffalo and continually being on the run. He adapted well to life on the Oklahoma reservation, making deals with Texas cattlemen instead of raiding them, and became quite wealthy, living until 1911.

The name "Hittson" is not that common. It's not unlikely that Siskiyou County's Jesse Bo Hittson was a descendant who remembered this story on that fateful night when he was off-duty, but responded to a radio call about an attempted convenience store robbery by a group of Indians.

This story is topical when we read about the kidnapping of Jaycee Dugard, who could have been a classmate of my younger daughter. Let's hope that she and her daughters fare better than the unfortunate Cynthia Parker, and have a bright future.

I want to write more about the Hittson case. If any local readers (dream on) can put me in contact with some of the people who were there, please contact me. For those who aren't at all familiar with the case, the bare outlines are that a car chase followed by a shootout led to the death of Hittson. Croy and two family members were wounded. Croy was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Eight years later, an appeals court ordered a new trial. Famed defense attorney Tony Serra got a change of venue to San Francisco, and convinced the jury there that Croy was reacting in self-defense to a racist cop. Ironically, the lesser charge of conspiracy to commit murder was not retried, and his life sentence for this offense remained technically in effect. He was paroled, but when he was caught with a marijuana cigaret, a judge reinstated the life sentence, and he served a total of 19 years and seven months before being released in 2005.

No comments:

Post a Comment