Another local connection to the Christine Collins, Gordon Stewart Northcott case:
Standing nearly 7 feet tall when clad in his signature white Stetson cowboy hat and cowboy boots, Jack H. Brown was a feared and respected lawman while serving as San Bernardino County Sheriff Walter Shay’s top investigator in the 1920s.
An expert marksman, Brown was known for his ability to fire a bullet at a wooden matchstick from 30 feet away and ignite it. He was also an expert tracker, a skill he acquired from the local Indian tribes while growing up in Kingman, Ariz.
His investigative skills were of such repute that he was recruited in 1928 by Riverside County Sheriff Clem Sweeters to help bring a serial child murderer to justice.
The case, dubbed the “Wineville chicken-coop murders,” is one of the most
gruesome and horrific in Riverside County history in what today is Mira Loma.
With director Clint Eastwood’s film “Changeling” appearing in theaters nationwide, Stater Bros. Chairman and CEO Jack Brown Jr. reflected on the role his father played in the case.
The movie, which has grossed more than $20 million since opening in late October, tells the true story of the plight of the mother of one of the murdered boys.
Coincidentally, the younger Brown sent Eastwood’s production company, Malpaso Productions, a copy of his 16-page book “The Badge,” which chronicles his father’s role in the Northcott case, about three years ago in hopes of sparking interest in a film.
“I could see Clint Eastwood playing my dad,” Brown said.
But it wasn’t Brown’s story that would be translated to the big screen.