Octomom’s bizarre 911 call channels Christine Collins

Was Octomom Nadya Suleman channeling Angelina Jolie as Christine Collins in the Changeling?

There are apparently some definite similarities between the two performances.

Here’s the story:

WHITTIER – Octomom Nadya Suleman became unhinged with fear last year when she thought she’d lost one of her children, telling an emergency dispatcher, “Oh God, I’m going to kill myself,” according to a recording of her 911 call released Wednesday by police.

Suleman made the call Oct. 27 after her 5-year-old son went missing from the front yard, only to find him a few minutes later after he returned from a walk.

Suleman’s repeated threats of suicide prompting a chiding from the dispatcher, who could hear children’s voices in the background. “Don’t say that in front of your other child, OK?” the dispatcher tells Suleman. “Keep yourself under control for your other child; he doesn’t need to hear that.”

Suleman, an unemployed single mother, has come under scrutiny since giving birth to octuplets Jan. 26 when she already had six other children, ages 2 to 7. Talks show hosts, celebrities and others have weighed in on the topic, with some questioning her ability to look after 14 children.

Compare for yourself:

Listen to audio of Suleman’s 911 call.

Changeling trailer

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Northcott’s death penalty

After his 1929 conviction for killing young boys on his Wineville Chicken Ranch, Gordon Northcott was put to death within months, as Wikipedia notes:

On February 8, 1929, a 27-day trial before Judge George R. Freeman in Riverside County, California, ended. Gordon Northcott was convicted of the murders of an unidentified Mexican boy[5] and brothers Lewis and Nelson Winslow (aged 12 and 10, respectively).[11] The brothers had been reported missing from Pomona on May 16, 1928.[12] However, it was believed Northcott may have had as many as 20 victims.[13] The jury heard that he kidnapped, molested, tortured, killed, and dismembered these and other boys throughout 1928. On February 13, 1929, Judge Freeman sentenced Northcott to be hanged.[14] The sentence was carried out on October 2, 1930.

While death sentences are still handed out in California, the average time from conviction to execution is about 16 years. Thus today’s Crime Scene poll, Do you think Northcott would be executed for similar crimes today?



Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

The mystery of Walter Collins

With so much interest in the DVD release of Clint Eastwood’s movie The Changling, perhaps those of you who have seen the film have some thoughts on the fate of Walter Collins.

It’s an open question. Was he killed by Gordon Northcott at the Wineville Chicken Ranch as Northcott and his mother claimed? Or did Young Walter somehow escape the farm and go on to lead a productive life, justifying Christine Collins’ hope that her son would return home some day?

What do you think?


Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Sanford Clark and the Wineville Chicken Ranch Murders

Reporter Ruby Gonzales put together an interesting piece about Sanford Clark for today’s papers.

Clark, the nephew of Gordon Stewart Northcott, was ultimately sentencedto five years at Nelles for his role in the case that led to the deaths of Walter Collins, Lewis and Nelson Winslow, and an unidentified latino youth.

Here’s the top of Ruby’s story:


Jerry Clark, 17, was on his way to a hockey game when his father, Sanford, pulled the car over and revealed a shocking past.

When he was 15, Sanford Clark became the main witness against his uncle, Gordon Stewart Northcott, who kidnapped boys from the Southland in the 1920s then molested and killed them at a chicken ranch in Wineville.

Not only did his uncle rape and beat him, Clark told authorities he was made to help dispose of the bodies and, at gunpoint, ordered to shoot one of the boys.

“Sanford said he never planned to tell Jerry the story,” said Anthony Flacco , who is writing a book about Clark and was at the Whittier Museum last week doing research.

But he said Clark was worried reporters working on an unrelated killing near their town would unearth his past. His concern was that his children would hear about it from others. His fear didn’t materialize.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Christine Collins mystery solved

From the mailbag:

Mr Girardot,

Just wanted to let you know that the fate of Christine Collins has been solved.  Collins is listed in the death index under Christin Collins.  This linked her name to a Kathleen Collins in the social security death index.  Collins indicated that this was an alias she used after the high profile trial.  The time period fits and I’m fairly certain it is her.  Collins died on 12/8/1964.  There is also an interesting back story.  At one point in time, she was staying with James C. Borton in 1930.  Borton took in Collins because he and her father were members of the Knights of Pythias.  She also spent sometime in Oakland Californa in the early 1930’s, with friends they met when the family was in Hawaii.  At one point in time she took a telephone number under an assumed name as well. As it turns out, her sister, at  one point in time, was listed on a passenger manifest as visiting Hong Kong in 1930, in the midst of the events involving her son.  She is listed under race as Octoroon.  Even in my work as an Archivist, I have never come acrossed that term.  It’s a guess, but I believe that Aimee Dunne was of Chinese Origin, which I also thought was an interesting note. 
I’m planning on taking the research further and write a book.  I’ve spent too much time learning about this family, so I need to justify it somehow!


Chris Garmire
California State Archives

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Grocery store head has connection to Wineville case

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

Jack Brown Jr., CEO of Stater Bros., wears the diamond-studded gold badge his father, a deputy sheriff, was given for his work in solving a series of murders in Riverside County in the late 1920s. (Eric Reed/Staff Photographer)

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.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

The fate of Christine Collins


I’ve had several emails this weekend asking about the fate of Christine Collins’ the real life woman played by Angelina Jolie in Clint Eastwood’s “The Changeling.”

Perhaps the best answer is on Roxanne Adam’s blog, “Dispatch from the Third World of Los Angeles.” Adams came across some records that indicate a Christine M. Collins died in 1996 in a tiny East Bay community. Here’s a portion of the entry:

One Christine M. Collins, born on April 24th 1900, died in 1996 in Lafeyette, a city located in Contra Costa County, California; this is the only official public record I could find. Since her son was nine years old when he disappeared in 1928, it’s entirely reasonable that she was born in 1901.

And the photo caption:

Walter Collins’ mother, Mrs. Christine Collins, who confronted Gordon Northcott in jail concerning her son. “I did not kill Walter,” he told her. “I believe you,” she replied. Later, when Arthur Hutchens claimed to be her son and she did not accept him, she was sent to a psychopathic ward. She later filed suit against the police for this action.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Walter Collins’ home

In Thursday’s column, I noted that Walter Collins lived in the Mt. Washington neighborhood of Los Angeles. A reader writes to correct that by noting that Walter and Christine Collins actually lived in Lincoln Heights.

Here’s the note:

A slight correction on the “Changeling” story. Walter Collins was not from Mt. Washington, he was from Lincoln Heights and lived at 217 N. Ave 23. He was abducted two blocks away. The neighborhood where he lived was razed to make way for the transit village at the Ave 26/Lincoln Heights Gold Line Stop.

Old L.A. Times and other media often mistook L.A. neighborhoods. The borders of where Mt. Washington is, where Highland Park is, etc is far more distinct now. It wasn’t always the case.

I’ve created a map that shows some of the locations from the story:

View Larger Map

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

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. 

Continue reading “Wineville part III: The Hickman case (and some notes on reporting)” »

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email