10-11-2008, 11:36 AM #1
CA - Wineville Chicken Coop Murders/Disappearances, 1928-1930
(The following is taken from various newspapers from the period between 1928 and 1933 courtesy newspaperarchive.com---note that the following could be considered a "spoiler" for the movies's plot. Various other internet sources vary from the details related here.)
In March of 1928, Christine Collins was raising her son, Walter, by herself in Los Angeles. Her husband, Walter JS, was serving a term in Folsom Prison for robbery. On March 10th, Christine thought Walter was playing in the neighborhood. When he did not return by the evening, Christine made a report with the police. She would never see 9 year-old Walter again.
Police worked on the theory that Walter had been kidnapped as part of a revenge plot against his father. Walter JS was a "straw boss" in the prison, and was in charge of several other inmates. Police surmised he had made enemies of those he was in charge of. They began searching for inmates who had been recently released. In addition, they followed up on reports of a gas station attendant who had seen a car with a "body wrapped in newspaper" in the back seat. A young friend of Walter's also reported that a stranger had been in the neighborhood, inquiring about the Collins residence. None of the leads went anywhere.
In August of '28, authorities in Illinois discovered a young boy working in a restaurant (also reported to have been working on a farm) near the town of DeKalb. He resembled photos of the Collins boy that had been distributed nationwide. At first, the boy denied being Walter, but following "gentle" questioning, he admitted that he was, in fact, Walter. He was then turned over to the Los Angeles police by the Illinois police.
The LAPD investigators were baffled when Christine stated that the boy was not her son. They stated that he closely resembled the photos of Walter, so they had "Walter" undergo a series of tests. He had, allegedly, directed authorities to the correct home, and knew information about other homes in the neighborhood. Christine still disagreed, and though she stated the boy did closely resemble Walter, he did not act the same as her boy. Authorities tried to convince her that his kidnappers had "altered the aisles in his brain" during his captivity, which accounted for his odd behavior. As the final point in determined that the boy was in fact Walter, the police noted that Walter's pet dog, a black spaniel, immediately took to the young boy.
When Christine still refused to accept that the boy was in fact her son, public sentiment (fueled largely by statements from LAPD Captain JJ Jones, in charge of the Juvenile Investigation Unit) turned against Christine. Based entirely on Jones' say-so, Christine was committed to a psychopathic ward. She spent ten days in the unit, until "Walter" finally recanted.
The boy was not Walter, but was in fact Arthur Hutchins, Jr. He was a young runaway from Iowa, working in Illinois at the time of Walter's disappearance. He told reporters and police he took what little he knew of the case from newspaper reports. When asked why he had perpetrated the hoax, he told authorities he had "always wanted to see Hollywood". Hutchins further stated that he had fooled the authorities by delaying his answers to certain questions until someone suggested an answer. The rest was just "wild guesses".
In mid-September, 15 year-old Sanford Clark approached police with an incredible story. He had just escaped from the chicken farm of his grandparents, Cyrus and Louise Northcott. (Other papers report that immigration officers had located Clark at the farm following inquiries as to his presence in the US). He stated he had travelled to the farm from Canada with his uncle, Gordon Stewart Northcott. Gordon had "misused" him, and held him captive. During his time there, he was forced to witness and participate in the torture and murder of four boys. One of the boys, he declared, was in fact Walter Collins. Clark stated he was positive the boy was Walter.
Clark told authorities that the murders had begun with a young Mexican boy, who Nothcott had killed with an ax; in fact, the headless corpse of a young Mexican boy had been found along a highway near the town of Puente some few months prior. Next had come the week-long ordeal of Walter, who Northcott had tied to a bed and tortured for a week. Finally, Louise, Gordon's mother, killed Walter with an ax. Next came the torture and murders of 12 year-old Lewis and 10 year-old Nelson Winslow. Clark told police he had been forced to kill Nelson while Gordon hacked Lewis to death.
When police arrived at the ranch, only Cyrus was there. Louis and Gordon had fled. They found overwhelming evidence attesting to the truth of Clark's assertions. A bloody cot was located, where the tortures had taken place. Three empty graves were located, from which the police determined that the bodies had recently been removed. The bodies had been covered in quicklime. Bones, body parts (a hand was reported to have been found) and a hat which the Winslow's father later stated had belonged to one of his sons were located. In one of the chicken coops, a bloody axe was found. It was clotted with hair and "human debris".
A short time later, Louise and Gordon were located in Canada and returned to California. Louise intially confessed to all four murders, most likely in an attempt to save her son. She was convicted of the murder of Walter Collins and sentenced to life in San Quentin State Prison.
It was reported that prior to his trial, Gordon had taken authorities on a trek through the Mojave Desert in search of the boys' remains. During that time, he allegedly stated that he had killed "Walter Collins, Lewie Winslow, Alvin Gothea, a boy named Richard" and another boy whose name he did not know. Gordon hinted to police that it was possible another four boys had been murdered at the ranch (Woodland Daily Democrat, 12-4-1928. A Wikipedia article on the murders states that one of the boys Gordon claimed to kill was in fact found alive and well five years later; this may be the Gothea boy mentioned, though I have yet to confirm this. A UP story, carried in various papers in early January '29, states that Gothea was the Mexican boy; this is the only place I have seen this stated).
Northcott's trial began in January of 1929. During the trial, the jury heard the details of the torture and murder of the boys. Louise Northcott testified that she was not actually Gordon's mother, but his grandmother. Louise's daughter disputed this in newspaper reports, stating that Gordon's birth records were "readily available". Christine Collins also testified during the trial. Acording to the Modesto Daily Herald, dated 2-2-29, Christine testified that she had received a note following Walter's disappearance that read "boy bad sick, afraid to call doctor".
On February 8th, 1929, Gordon was found guilty of the murders of the unknown Mexican boy and the Winslow brothers. He was sentenced to hang.
The night prior to the execution, Christine and the mother of the Winslow boys confronted Gordon after he sent them telegrams stating he would tell her the truth of what happened to their children. Instead, Gordon proclaimed his innocence, blaming his mother and his nephew.
Northcott was executed on October 2nd, 1930.
Christine never stopped believing that Walter might still be alive, as no solid evidence of him was found at the farm. Christine's treatment at the hands of Captain Jones and his officers resulted in Jones' four-month suspension without pay. She was awarded over $10,000 in a settlement against Jones. Christine vowed to use every cent to find out what really happened to Walter.
She never did.
10-12-2008, 01:43 AM #2Registered User
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- Feb 2006
Wineville was renamed Mira Loma after the murders, because of the notoriety. It seems strange to me after all these decades, that some homebuilders' backhoe hasn't turned up the remains of the Collins boy or the other alleged victims. It's not such a little town now. Wonder if the farm land belonging to the killer is still farm land, or is it now a subdivision?
10-12-2008, 05:25 PM #3Registered User
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- Jan 2008
CA - Wineville Chicken Coop Murders/Disappearances, 1928-1930
1928-1930 murder case -reportably one John Doe victium http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wineville_Chicken_Murders
10-13-2008, 01:05 PM #4
I am excited to see the remake. Normally I wouldn't be but the fact that Clint Eastwood has directed it gives me hope. He has not made a bad movie in years - in fact most of them have been great movies.'The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated'
10-13-2008, 05:04 PM #5
10-19-2008, 11:13 PM #6
this is beyond heart wrenching. I don't think I can go to a movie like this. I have a 9 yr old son. Could not imagine the evil bestoed on these children. I trust Gordon and Louise are violently burning in h*ll!?!Only my opinion, no one else need agree.
10-20-2008, 11:31 PM #7
Shadowangel, I might of known you would get to this first. I just spent an hour researching it
Anyway my friend, I did find this little tid bit to add... true or not I don't know.
In the end, Gordon Stewart Northcott and his mother were accused of sexually assaulting and murdering 11 children in Riverside County.
Pretty good article here:
Sad that he wasn't found and his mother never recieved any restitution from Captain Jones. I wonder how many UID's there are from 1928.
10-21-2008, 07:23 PM #8
According to at least two articles I found, Christine was awarded $10,800 in settlement of her $55,000 lawsuit. If the judgement was against Jones or the city of LA, I don't know. I also don't know if she ever received any money.
10-22-2008, 05:52 PM #9
I know the answer to my question will be all speculation but what about Gordon's dad? He was found at the farm alive and fine. How could he NOT know what went on in that house? How come he was never implicated? Sounds to me like Gordon may have been tortured as a child to become the monster he did. IMO, the dad tortured little Gordon for years and then the mom felt guilty by not helping her child and in turn she tried to hide his crimes as well. If she enabled the father, why wouldn't she enable her son? I think there's more to this than was ever considered. Terrible.Only my opinion, no one else need agree.
10-23-2008, 09:46 PM #10
Pattycake thats a good thought... now you have me wondering
Shadowangel this was about all I found on the law suit,
The LA TIMES: 1941 - Mrs. Christine Collins filed suit for renewal of her $15,562 judgment against Capt. J. J. Jones, retired police officer, in Superior Court. It doesn't say anywhere else whether or not she ever got anything...
10-24-2008, 05:25 PM #11
Some additional articles, mostly from September of '28, add more detail to the father's role in the murders.
Cyrus was described as "old and feeble", the victim of "prolonged domestic strife". He testified that his wife and son had tried to kill him on more than one occasion, and that "they didnt have much use for me".
In many articles, Gordon is called the "ape man" or "ape boy". This came from Cyrus' intial description of his son, after Gordon and Louise had fled to Canada. He described Gordon as having hair all over his body and looking "like an ape".
In 1925, Gordon had been arrested for assaulting a 12 year-old boy, but he received no punishment from juvenile authorities.
Cyrus testified that he believed that Gordon had killed a man at a mining camp near the farm; police investigated but could not confirm the murder. This would have made five; at one time, Gordon claimed there were eight murder victims, at another time nine, and at yet another time eleven.
I'm not sure of Cyrus' involvement; the newspapers seem almost sympathetic with him after a time. The situation with the mother, on the other hand, appears much more bizarre. Louise testified that Cyrus was not Gordon's father, instead she had been impregnated by a previous suitor ("a British nobleman") who came back into her life briefly.
Based on statements by Cyrus, police in Canada felt that Gordon may have been disguised as a girl after he fled California---Cyrus stated that Louise made Gordon wear dresses and passed him off as a girl until he reached his teens.
At the time of Gordon's execution, Louise begged to be hanged with her son. And, in what might be considered poetic justice, Gordon's neck didn't break when the trapdoor fell. Instead, he slowly strangled, possibly taking up to ten minutes to die.
10-24-2008, 09:51 PM #12
I think what you have to say about the mother SA, sounds like she was the child molester and not the father. Its satisfying to me knowing they are in hell for eternity.
Can't say I ever would take pleasure in someone's death, but how you described Gordon's final moments comes close to bliss! That's the least he deserved as well.
People like this that torture, rape and murder children should suffer the most agonizing painful tortured prolonged death imaginable to the human psyche. And the parents of the victims should get the first and last go at him.Only my opinion, no one else need agree.
10-26-2008, 03:02 PM #13
wow, super interesting. I've seen the ads for the movie but I had no idea what it was really about. What a sad, interesting, twisty-turny story!.
10-26-2008, 11:28 PM #14
My suspicions maybe correct after all.
Here's a link to a site of info I found. Sounds like quite possibly the old man was a sadistic child rapist. That would more be my hunch and the mother enabled them both. The father ended up in an asylum the remainder of his life as well.
"Canadian born in 1908, Northcott would later claim that his father sodomized him at age ten. The old man finished his life in a lunatic asylum, and one of Northcott's paternal uncles died years later, in San Quentin, while serving a life term for murder." ....
Sounds like the fathers' side of the family had 'issues' to say the least. While we will never know the full truth, I venture to guess this is probably along the lines of what most likely occured and the police did nothing about it. My assumption is that the father was smart enough to 'play dumb' and accuse his son and wife but leave himself out of the picture. I take it one step futher and equally suspect the father was a participant in torturing the boys as well.
Here during the trial, the father all but admits seeing much of what occured at his farm.
"Northcott had his mother brought from Tehachapi State Prison to testify on his behalf. Her startling testimony was that her husband, Cyruss George Northcott, had had intercourse with their daughter, Winifred, who gave birth to Gordon Stewart Northcott.
Winifred married and had more children, including Stanford Wesley Clark.
Northcott’s father testified that his son had bragged of killing many boys and that he had seen evidence of the carnage before much of it was destroyed with lye and fire. He even testified that he had bought the lye."Only my opinion, no one else need agree.
10-27-2008, 10:42 AM #15
The daughter testified that she was not Gordon's mother, and stated that "medical records proving who his mother is are readily available".
There can be little doubt that Cyrus knew what was happening. If he wasn't a participant, it's beyond my ability to imagine why he never reported anything.
Another very disturbing statement from Gordon--He testified that the Collins boy was kidnapped on March 10th, but wasn't killed until April 16th. To think, he may have been held on that farm for over a month...
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