“Changeling”: The Real Criminals

October 28, 2008 at 11:45 am (Uncategorized)

The number of daily visits to my blog has been in the hundreds since my post on Christine Collins; it seems there is a lot of interest out there in the true story behind “Changeling”. 

Gordon Stewart Northcott’s case has been known as the “Wineville Chicken Coop Murders”; Wineville is now Mira Loma, a town in Riverside County. Its citizens decided to change the city’s name due to the widespread publicity (and notoriety) of the atrocities that took place on Northcott’s farm.

Here are some more photos of the real people that were involved in this horrific (yet morbidly fascinating) case. The photos and captions are from the Los Angeles Public Library Archives’ official record; these are facts:

The boy who returned as Walter Collins pencils specimens of his writing, which proves he is not the real Walter Collins, according to Milton Carlson, handwriting expert. Later it was learned his real name is Arthur Hutchens, alias Billy Fields.


Sanford Clark, Gordon Northcott‘s nephew, who first revealed the so-called “murder farm” and accused Northcott of killing at least three boys there. He declared he was held captive at the farm and made to assist in the murders.


Sanford Clark, 15, who asserted four boys were slain on a “murder farm” by [Gordon] Stewart Northcott, 24. He is shown looking over photos of missing boys. He claimed Walter Collins was a victim and picked his photo out of 30 but could not identify a boy found and returned as Walter Collins.


Northcott signing out in the “big book” at the Los Angeles County Jail as he departed for Riverside to go on trial as the slayer of the Winslow brothers.


Gordon Northcott led officers to an ash heap containing bones believed to be Walter Collins’ and is aiding a further hunt for the graves of his victims.


Mrs. Louise Northcott pleaded guilty on December 31, 1928, of murdering “the boy named in the indictment as Walter Collins,” but said the victim was another boy.


Sarah Louise Northcott, left, as she arrived at San Quentin Prison in the custody of Mrs. Clem Sweeters, wife of the Riverside County Sheriff, to serve a life sentence following her murder confession.


Keywords: Christine Collins, Walter Collins, Changeling movie, true story, 1928, LAPD, Gordon Northcott, Wineville murders, Angelina Jolie, Clint Eastwood



  1. lilly said,

    i am so sorry for every one who lost there child to total stranger .

    • Gail said,

      “Their” and there are different. Get it right.

      • Terra said,

        Thank you for teaching her that is very nice. However, please don’t be rude about it, it is unnecessary and counter productive.

  2. kim from nc said,

    never heard of this story till the movie came about i was so sadden for the victims in this case its very interesting to look back at the photos of the people in this time period the northcott family seemed to be monsters and at least he (gordon northcott) got what he desevered in the end mabe we need to bring back hangings esspecialy when its a child envolved

  3. T.J. Shere said,

    I think what Stanford Clark did was right, when he came to the police. If that would have happened to me well I would have gone insane. Gorden on the other hand got what he deserved.

  4. Shana said,

    According to a story I read Sarah Louise Northcutt actually only served 12 years of that life sentence she received. They should’ve hung her too.

  5. ruby said,

    it’s so disgusting this case !!!! all those children whose life were cut short ! its very sad but we all know they r in a better place now…..well meet them some day im sure…..but the way they had to go so brutally……NORTHCOTT GOT WHAT HE DESERVED THAT BASTARD!!!!!!!!! my condolences to those who were killed……even though i dont know them

  6. bill siart said,

    fuck the incest loving northcott family! damn them all to hell

  7. Sandy May said,

    I feel bad for the nephew to be forced into such a situation as his. Northcott is an extremely sick person. Blessings to those children who were murdered.

    • brooke said,

      poor sanford clarck he was forced to kill even when he didnt want to he had guilt his whole life and thats his uncles fault

  8. brandy said,

    I can only hope that everyone realizes that this is why it is so important to teach our kids to never walk up to a car or to walk off with someone they don’t know, rather the child be a teen or young child. This didn’t just happen in 1928, it happens to this day. Why do they not talk about this in the schools? They did when i was a kid. I pray Northcott is burning in Hell……he deserves no less. He’s “family” deserves no less.

  9. gspot2001@gmail.com said,

    yes it was sad but, God works in mysterios ways and maybe one of those kids killed was going to be the next hilter or worse erkle

    • Jennifer said,

      @ gspot2001@gmail.com, I agree that God works in mysterious ways but I truly don’t understand WHY you would comment your last sentence! I’l refrain from saying anything else….

  10. Cera said,

    I have been reading your posts (along with other archives) about this historical event and agree that Mrs. Collins was a very strong woman, but I have to say that she was human and no matter how strong you are emotions will get the best of you when someone you love is taken from you, especially when you know your they are still missing and time is of the essence. Though she was outwardly calm and business like to the public, no one is able to be completely emotionless in times of frustration. I am going to assume you did not know Mrs. Collins personally and there for could not know truly what she was like or how she acted in her times of loss and grief, there for I would take this as just your opinion of what you assume she would have been like based on the research you have done. To that I have to say; just because a person cries dose not make them week and out of control, and I find your comment about this degrading, as event the best and the bravest men and woman cry. I just last night watched the movie and there is only one time in ‘public’ that they portray Mrs. Collins as loosing her temper, the others she is not “hysterical” as you call it, but rather crying tiers of joy. (At the news they found her son and the news of the boy being found alive at the end of the movie). Other than the scene at the jail, she is only seen screaming in her own home, though Mrs. Collins was outwardly strong and confident in the public eye, in the comforts of her own home (were most would not see her) she would be able to express her grief, anger and frustrations, she was not God, she was a woman who lost her son and used that and her strong determination to change Las Angeles. I think Jolie portrayed this part very well, she was stead fast at the execution, the trials and when wrongful held in a mental hospital. She also held her own at the press conference and spoke with passion and determination; she did not fight against those taking her to the metal hospital and walked with dignity. But just because Mrs. Collins was brave and confident did not rob her of the chance to show emotion nor was she void of emotion. No one could take on such a journey if they felt nothing. I don’t doubt that Mrs. Collins was full of passion and determination but she was also human. The film was based on the events that took place over 7 years (1928 – 1935) giving viewers but a snap shot of what happened and was created to share a story, it was not a documentary portraying the actual facts and events of those fateful years.

  11. adrian said,

    I cannot even begin to say how this story has impacted me……all of those kids gone…and for what reason?? And to walters mom christine who not only had to go through missing her son, to the police finding her son, then it turning out not to be her son, and goin to a pysch ward, and all the shit she had to go through and endure…….and that filthy disgusting man didnt even have the nerve to tell that woman the truth. He had the nerve to kill multiple children no problem…but couldnt even tell a desperate mom the truth…..It absolutely blows my mind to even think there are people that sick in the world.

  12. Sara said,

    wow i cant balive how well they made the carectors look just like the real people!

  13. taylor said,

    I hope that one day we will get to see all those children and also let their mothers and fathers get to see each other again.

  14. Brookelynn said,

    They really need to bring back hanging, I think. ANYONE who has such a sick mind like Gordon or whatever the hell his name is, and just kill innocent little boys, should die in physical pain. Actually I think he should die the way he killed every single boy in my opinion, get mollested then get chopped off by an axe. That sick son of bitch, what a little pansy he was, “say a prayer for me, say a prayer for me.” I pray he is sizzling and rotting in hell right now, thats what I pray! Man, I’ve never been so disgusted in my whole entire life.

  15. dallana said,

    who would do that to children and another child himself to other kids such a horrifying case to hear

  16. Johnie209 said,

    As soon as i finished watching the movie i look up the entire case. This was the most cruel, freaky, disgusting thing i have ever saw in my life. I would go crazy if this would of happen to my niece or newphew. For god sakes these were kids with hopes and dreams. How could you u gross basturd. I hope u rott in tha darkes croner of hell thats my fucking prayer 4 u.

  17. Reese said,

    I absolutely agree with you Cera! And everything that you mentioned is right and we all as human beings know it to be so. Even though we can all sit here and think that we know how christine acted or should have acted in life (or as angelina jolie) acted in the movie, we all absolutely have no idea what that woman went through. But we do know human emotion and what losing one so dear to you can put you through, and i don’t think any MOTHER would stand there throughout this whole ordeal and present herself as calm and collective and neutral the whole time (just so as some say, that she can look quote, unquote strong). Just because one cries and/or shows a hint of emotion does not demote that person to being a weak individual. I’m sure as Cera said above that Christine did have her moments of breakdown, i’m sure any Mother who loves and cares for her children would (and obviously she did otherwise she would not have fought as hard as she did nor been as persisent).

    Lastly, in light of Jolie’s performance in the movie and with the character, i think it needs to be realized that yes the actors do play the characters and portray them, but it is the directors at the end of the day who direct those actors and tell them how they should act. So lets not start to bash Jolie because of her performance, she was directed people. That’s why there’s a director on every movie. And anyway i think Clint Eastwood directed wonderfully with Christine’s character because of course a mother as i stated earlier WOULD react in the ways he had Jolie act in the film. She loved her son for christ sake and wanted him back. He made very strong directorial choices.

    As for the rest of the people within this tragedy go (Northcott’s) i have no sympathy for any of them except the nephew, thank god he came forward for if he never did who knows if this would have ever come to light. But i strongly feel grief for those families and for the ones involved especially the children slain, and passed on now, even though this was long ago i still feel that they should always be remembered. And may God always continue to bless the families of those victims. Also, my condolescences strongly go out to the continued generations who live among us now, who are related to those victims from the past. I can’t imagine the kind of legacy you have to remember through your names because of this tragedy. But may God bless you all, and my heart goes out to you!!

    Reese, CA

  18. gio said,

    i feel bad for all those kids who were killed by that worthless man they should hav killed him like he killed those innocent kids bless all the children thet were killed

  19. Abigail said,

    I feel such sympathy for Sanford Clark

  20. Amber said,

    Wow…..I can’t stand people that would do that. The police is what really got to me though. That, and how that Northcott dude can do that to all those kids…..

  21. RR said,

    Reese… Eastwood’s directing style is pretty hands off… he lets his actors ‘act’… so Jolie’s performance is pretty much her own ‘take’ on the character.
    I haven’t read the blog, just looked for pix of that sick Northcott mother… after 80 years nobody knows how any of those people acted, felt, thought, etc. The movie is drama, not reality. Hollywood can’t make a documentary anymore… it’s all just ‘inspired by’ events.
    Even Clint took liberties with the facts… like leaving out the Northcott mother… and still started his movie with the notation ‘a true story’… not a literal story… but there is also a notation at the end of the movie about having some composite characters and fictionalized events.

  22. Tameka said,

    This is a message to all those who have lost there child to the hands of another human being
    I cant say I know what your feeling that would be incredibly selfish of me but I do know that to the grousome way children are taken let this be a warning to those who take it upon them selves to hear there last breath on the day of your judgment when you are standing before god your maker and the question is where do you belong heaven or hell god will not allow such evilness into his kingdome so to the arms of the devil you will be incorserated for things you have done that no man need do.
    For the tears of mudered victims family’s my heart goes out to all of you and I pray that god take away your pain god bless

  23. tara said,

    i watched the movie today and man was that soo sad.. its just made me think and read up about it….. i cant believe what the boys and christine went through, its a shame christine didnt get her hope b4 her death, the poor little darlings killed for what!… all i can say is that u poor boys rip and u northcott burn and get tortured in hell u sick barstard!!!

  24. Mariee said,

    I cannot believe they left Northcott’s mother out of the movie! She was as horrible as her son in my opinion!
    Also that first picture of Gordon Northcott really creeps me out.. he looks evil!

  25. danny said,

    saw the movie a while back and i got deeply touched by it! and started browsing the net looking for the real pictures, of the people that where involved northcott is a sick man! with no soul

    also thought angelina jolie did a bang up job in portraying christine

    my heart go’s out to christine who died never knowing the fate of her son and to all the other victims and there parents also too sanford who was forced to carry out these sick tasks by a deranged family

    what a tragic

  26. brooke said,

    i love this story and it is so sad!!!! it makes me cry everytime i hope that these kids get to see their familys again!!

  27. D said,

    May the children victims Rest in Peace.

  28. rebecca said,

    well i watched the film the other night and its was dead sad and how the killer murder children

  29. Changeling: The Real Information « Simply Say Cheese said,

    […] The Criminals […]

  30. Devyn said,

    Sanford did well and I found he became a very good man. So much trauma in one childhood, its amazing. The Northcotts got what was coming. Bless (by whoever has the right to bless) those children and Sanford’s souls

  31. K.R.M said,

    Who can do such a thing to all those children? Ughh, and what makes it even moree horriable for me is that i live 3 minutes away from that house where the kids were murdered.

  32. Jazmin said,

    I feel absolutely devastated knowing that his nephew also had to take part in the murders , And I wonder how he went on with his life knowing what a horrible childhood he had . And how he became to be a loving father . And I saw in the news that the house ( Wineville Chicken Coop ) is still in the same place . I would have thought it be burned down or something , and there is a family living there too . Every time I think about this case I start crying . I picture myself in Sanford’s shoes , I’m more than certain that I wouldn’t have survived .

  33. palebunnycrusader said,

    OH they made an episode of CRIMINAL MINDS that I just know must have been based on this. |This is horrible & look at the killer guy XD XD god he looks like a parody of someone evil. HOW BIZARRE.

  34. Bob The Patron Saint of All Lost Causes. said,

    The real tragedy for the Northcutts is their living in the 1927 period when crime was seen as a crime and an offence that needed to be punished (what a barbaric notion that was). If this crime had happened today they would be portrayed as the victims and given every aid to re-adjust themselves to society’s mores in order for them to rejoin society as worthwhile, model citizens. All going well today Gordon Stewart Northcott would be the principal of Boy’s Town, and his mother running a care home for the elderly with both of them sueing the State for misjudging them and wrongful arrest. One needs to question did the Police have a search warrant, did the give Stewart a lie detector test, was he read his Miranda rights and cautioned “that any thing he said might be used against him in Court’, the poor little boy child might have had a perfectly acceptable explanation for all the body parts and finger laid about the farm. I think we can agree they were railroaded into court, and Gordon lost the chance to redeem himself by being given a suspended sentence, admittedly a sentence that was more suspended than what is the norm today.

  35. AMS said,

    You people are so melodramatic. As horrifying and grisly this case was which I’m not saying it wasn’t I’ve heard of some more violent and horrifying cases than this one like I think the John Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer cases were worse than this one. Oh and must I mention Fritz Haarmann!? he bit through his victims throats then dismembered the bodies, cut out the insides, and drank their blood!! And you people particularly the ladies say things like: “Oh this is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever read!” and “this is the most horrifying case I’ve ever heard of!” and “that northcott bastard is the most evil man I’ve known!” And you go all crazy on something like this?? like open your eyes….geez

  36. alexandriadv2 said,

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