Wineville part III: The Hickman case (and some notes on reporting)


Photo at right comes from the archives of the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner at the Los Angeles City Library. Here’s the caption:

Gordon Stewart Northcott the opposing batteries of attorneys, his four guards and some of the witnesses at his trial in Riverside for the murder of the Winslow brothers. Seated at the counsel table are, left to right, Deputy District Attorney Earle Redwine; Loyal C. Kelley, associate prosecution counsel; A. H. DeTremaudan, defense attorney; J. McKinley Cameron, defense attorney; David Sokol, defense attorney; Northcott; Norbert Savay, chief defense attorney. The four guards standing at right are, left to right, Deputy Sheriffs T. J. Burn, Ben deCrevecoeur, Carl Raeburn and Tex Boyles. In the background are witnesses and spectators.

Among those things we struggle with in reporting crimes stories are names — and correct spellings.

When Manling Williams was arrested in 2007 on suspicion of killing her husband and two young boys, several spellings of her name appeared on the Internet and in various publications: Man-ling. Man Ling, Manling. Originally we went with Man-ling, but in recent stories we’ve switched to Manling, which is how court papers refer to her.

A similar problem presented itself this summer with Christopher Chichester/Clark Rockefeller/Christian Gerhartsreiter.

Reporters in the 1920s faced similar articles. In Tuesday’s blog entry, I transcribed an article referring to Gordon Stewart Northcott as Gordon Stuart Northcott. Years ago it wouldn’t have been a problem, with the Internet and specilized search tools.. you get the picture.

Anyway in the months before Northcott came to national prominence for is role in the kidnapping and killing of four young boys, Los Angeles was gripped by the story of Edward Hickman. 

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Wineville murders part II; the pursuit of Gordon Stuart Northcott

This comes from an old newspaper article. It was published on Sept. 16, 1928:

Gordon Stuart Northcott, alleged to have murdered four boys on the chicken ranch of his father Cyrus Northcott, near Wineville, and his mother, Louise Northcott, today are confronted with a first degree murder charge and Canadian police and detectives are close on their trail in Vancouver.

The Murder complaint was issued from the office of District Attorney Albert Ford this morning, with Jim Quinn, district attorney investigator as the complaining witness.


Quinn believes the state has sufficient evidence to convict both Gordon Stuart Northcott and his mother of first degree murder.

He says the statement made by Sanford Clark to the Los Angeles operators, and the statement alleged to have been made by Gordon Stuart Northcott to his father Cyrus Northcott, are sufficient upon which to base a murder charge.

The physical evidence in the hands of Riverside county officers strengthens the case, Quinn statesm and proves that a human life has been taken. This evidence includes a toenail, two  


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The Wineville Chicken Murders (* updated on jump)

18264-northcott in jail-thumb-300x380.jpg

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.

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