Clint Eastwood’s “The Changeling,” which was released today has some interesting local connections.
The story is a retelling of the Wineville Chicken Murders committed by Gordan Stewart Northcott and his mother Louise Northcott on a chicken farm in 1928.
The Northcotts kidnapped boys from throughout the Southland, including Walter Collins, the subject of the movie, which stars Angelina Joile as Clark’s mother Christine Collins.
Besides Collins, the Northcotts kidnapped Louis and Nelson Winslow of Pomona and an unidentified “Mexican” boy from La Puente. Most of the kidnappings were done along the main route between Riverside and Los Angeles, which is now kown as Valley Boulevard.
At one time, I hoped to write a book on the killings and in the process I collected several old newspaper articles and a copy of the remaining court file from Sacramento.
Northcott’s mother pleaded guilty to killing Walter Collins and was sentenced to state prison.
As for Northcott, he attempted to defend himself in Riverside on the Winslow charges and conducted a cross-examination of his nephew, who was a key witness. ..I’ll continue to update this through the day. There are several interesting Web sites devoted to telling the tale as well. I’ll get some links up too.
*Here’s the Wikipedia entry on the case.
LA Times Then and Now
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
Boy confesses he’s not Walter Collins