A newsman (and Mayo was a reporter and editor) should be able to copy what’s in front of him. But he finds this terribly challenging. Here’s Mayo’s purported text of Hickman’s letter to Marion’s father and a photo of the actual letter, which appeared in the Los Angeles Evening Express on Dec. 20, 1927.
And here’s a textual comparison with [missing words in bold] and wrong words noted out.
[Use good judgment. You are the loser. Do this.] Secure 75 [--] $20 gold certificates [--] U.S. currency [--] [1500 dollars] $1500 at once. Keep [them] this on your person. Go about your [daily] business as usual. Leave [out] police and detectives. Make no public notice. Keep this affair strictly private. Make no search.
[fullfilling] Fulfilling [these] those terms [with the] and transfer of the currency will secure the return of the girl.
Failure to comply with [these] those requests [means] will mean no one will ever see the girl again. Except the angels in heaven.
The affair must end one way or [the other] another within 3 days. 72 [hrs.] hours.
You will receive further notice,
But the terms remain the same.
If you want aid against me ask God not man[.] !
Now remember, this is one of the classic books about Los Angeles – but would you accept this kind of work from a high school student?