Murderpedia

 

 

Juan Ignacio Blanco  

 

  MALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

  FEMALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

 

 

 
 

Gordon Stewart NORTHCOTT

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Homosexual sadist - Kidnapping - Dismemberment
Number of victims: 3 - 20
Date of murders: 1928
Date of birth: 1908
Victims profile: An unidentified Mexican boy / Lewis, 12, and Nelson Winslow, 10
Method of murder: Beating with an axe - Shooting
Location: Riverside, California, USA
Status: Executed by hanging on October 2, 1930
 
 
 
 
 

photo galleries

 
gordon northcott 1 gordon northcott 2 northcott's mother
 
 
the farm evidence 1 evidence 2
 
 
walter collins the winslow brothers other
 
 
 
 
 
 

Northcott, Gordon Stewart

Canadian born in 1908, Northcott would later claim that his father sodomized him at age ten. 

The old man finished his life in a lunatic asylum, and one of Northcott's paternal uncles died years later, in San Quentin, while serving a life term for murder. 

A homosexual sadist in the mold of Dean Corll and John Gacy, by age 21, Northcott was living on a poultry ranch near Riverside, California, sharing quarters with his mother and a 15-year-old nephew, Sanford Clark. 

For years, Northcott mixed business with pleasure in Riverside, abducting boys and hiding them out on his ranch, renting his victims to wealthy Southern California pedophiles.

When he tired of the boys, they were shot or brained with an ax, their flesh dissolved with quick lime and their bones transported to the desert for disposal. Only one was ever found - a headless, teenage Mexican, discovered near La Puente during February 1928 - but homicide detectives identified three other victims.

Walter Collins disappeared from home on March 10, 1928, and Northcott's mother was convicted of his death, but evidence suggests that she was acting under orders from her son. 

Twelve-year-old Lewis Winslow and his brother Nelson, 10, vanished from Pomona on May 16, 1928, and Northcott was later condemned for their murders, despite the absence of bodies. Gordon might have gone on raping and killing indefinitely, but in the summer of 1928, he visited the district attorney's office, complaining about a neighbor's "profane and violent" behavior. The outbursts reportedly upset his nephew, who was "training for the priesthood" by tending chickens at age 15. Under investigation, the neighbor recalled seeing Gordon beat Clark on occasion, and he urged detectives to "find out what goes on" at Northcott's ranch. 

Immigration officials struck first, taking Clark into custody on a complaint from his Canadian parents, and the boy regaled authorities with tales of murder, pointing out newly-excavated "grave sites" on the ranch. Detectives dug up blood-soaked earth, unearthing human ankle bones and fingers on September 17. 

They also found a bloodstained ax and hatchet on the premises, that Clark said had been used on human prey, as well as chickens. Northcott fled to Canada, but he was captured there and extradited back to Riverside. His mother claimed responsibility for slaying Walter Collins, but Clark fingered Gordon as the actual killer. 

Convicted on three counts of murder, including the Winslow brothers and the anonymous Mexican, Northcott was sentenced to death. Spared by her sex, his mother received a life sentence in the Collins case.

Marking time at San Quentin, Northcott alternated between protestations of innocence and detailed confessions to the murder of "18 or 19, maybe 20" victims. A pathological liar who cherished the spotlight, he several times offered to point out remains of more victims, always reneging at the last moment. (Northcott also named several of his wealthy "customers" at the ranch, but their identities were never published.) Warden Duffy recalled his conversations with Northcott as "a lurid account of mass murder, sodomy, oral copulation, and torture so vivid it made my flesh creep." 

Northcott mounted the gallows on October 2, 1930, finally quailing in the face of death. Before the trap was sprung, he screamed, "A prayer! Please, say a prayer for me!" His mother subsequently died in prison, of old age.

Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans

 
 

Gordon Northcott

The Wineville Chicken Coop Murders — also known as the Wineville Chicken Murders — was a series of kidnappings and murders of young boys occurring in Los Angeles and Riverside County, California in 1928. The case received national attention and events related to it exposed corruption in the Los Angeles Police Department. The 2008 film Changeling is based upon events related to this case.

The murders

In 1926, Saskatchewan-born ranch owner Gordon Stewart Northcott took his 13-year-old nephew, Sanford Clark, from his home in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Before his sister, Jessie Clark, told the police about the situation, Northcott had beaten and sexually abused Clark. In September 1928, the Los Angeles Police Department visited the Northcott Ranch in Wineville. Police found Clark at the ranch and took him into custody.

Clark claimed that Northcott had kidnapped, molested, beaten, and killed several young boys with the apparent help of Northcott's mother, Sarah Louise Northcott. He had also forced Clark to participate. Clark said quicklime was used to dispose of the remains, and the bones had been dumped in the desert. The Northcotts had fled to Canada and they were arrested near Vernon, British Columbia.

Aftermath

Police found no complete bodies at the site, but they discovered the personal effects of missing children, a blood-stained axe, and body parts including bones, hair, and fingers from three of the victims that were buried in lime near the chicken house at the Northcott ranch near Wineville - hence the name "Wineville Chicken Coop Murders."

Wineville changed its name to "Mira Loma" on November 1, 1930, due in large part to the negative publicity surrounding the murders. Wineville Avenue, Wineville Road, Wineville Park and other geographic references provide reminders of the community's former name. Sanford Clark returned to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Trial

Sarah Louise Northcott initially confessed to the murders, including that of 9-year-old Walter Collins. She later retracted her statement, as did Gordon Northcott, who had confessed to killing five boys.

Upon her return from Canada, Sarah Louise pled guilty to killing Walter Collins. Superior Court Judge Morton sentenced her to life imprisonment on December 31, 1928, sparing her from execution because she was a woman. Sarah Northcott served her sentence at Tehachapi State Prison, and was paroled after less than 12 years. During her sentencing, Northcott claimed her son was innocent and made a variety of bizarre claims about his parentage, including that he was an illegitimate son by an English nobleman, that she was Gordon's grandmother, and that he was the result of incest between her husband, George Cyrus Northcott, and their daughter. She also stated that as a child, Gordon was sexually abused by the entire family.

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 and brothers Lewis and Nelson Winslow (aged 12 and 10, respectively). The brothers had been reported missing from Pomona on May 16, 1928; however, it was believed Gordon may have had as many as 20 victims. The jury heard that he kidnapped, molested, tortured, killed, and dismembered these and other boys throughout 1928. On February 13, 1929, Judge Freeman sentenced Gordon to be hanged. The sentence was carried out on October 2, 1930.

Involved parties

Gordon Stewart Northcott

Gordon Northcott (c. 1906 – October 2, 1930)

Gordon Stewart Northcott was born in Saskatchewan, Canada and raised in British Columbia, Canada. He moved to the Los Angeles area with his parents in 1924. Northcott later purchased a plot of land in Wineville, California and built a chicken ranch and home.

Sanford Clark

Sanford Wesley Clark (March 1, 1913 – June 20, 1991)

Sanford's older sister, Jessie, became suspicious of the letters Sanford was forced to send home from Northcott's ranch that assured the family he was well. She went to the ranch and stayed several days. However, she became terrified of Northcott, left and told authorities her brother was in the country illegally.

Sanford Clark was never tried for murder, but was sentenced to five years at the Whittier State School (later renamed the Fred C. Nelles Youth Correctional Facility). His sentence was later commuted to 23 months. After his release, he was deported back to his native Canada. Clark's son, Jerry Clark, credits Clark's sisters June and Jessie, associate prosecution counsel Loyal C. Kelley, and the Whittier State School for helping save Sanford from Gordon Northcott.

Clark served in World War II, and then worked for 28 years for the Canadian postal service. He married, and he and his wife, June, adopted and raised two sons. They were married for 55 years and were involved in many different organizations. Sanford Clark died in 1991 at age 78.

Christine and Walter Collins

Walter James Collins, Sr. (February 1, 1890 – August 18, 1932)
Christine Ida Dunne Collins
(1891 – 8 December 1964)
Walter James Collins, Jr.
(September 23, 1918 – March 1928) presumed murdered at
age nine.

Nine-year-old Walter Collins disappeared from his home in Mt. Washington, Los Angeles on March 10, 1928. His disappearance received nationwide attention and the Los Angeles Police Department followed up on hundreds of leads without success. The police faced negative publicity and increasing public pressure to solve the case, until five months after Walter's disappearance, when a boy claiming to be Walter was found in DeKalb, Illinois. Letters and photographs were exchanged before Walter's mother, Christine Collins, who worked as a telephone operator, paid for the boy to be brought to Los Angeles.

A public reunion was organized by the police, who hoped to negate the bad publicity they had received for their inability to solve this case and others. They also hoped the uplifting human interest story would deflect attention from a series of corruption scandals that had sullied the department's reputation. At the reunion, Christine Collins claimed that the boy was not Walter. She was told by the officer in charge of the case, police Captain J.J. Jones, to take the boy home to "try him out for a couple of weeks," and Collins agreed.

Three weeks later, Christine Collins returned to see Captain Jones and persisted in her claim that the boy was not Walter. Even though she was armed with dental records proving her case, Jones had Collins committed to the psychiatric ward at Los Angeles County Hospital under a "Code 12" internment—a term used to jail or commit someone who was deemed difficult or an inconvenience. During Collins' incarceration, Jones questioned the boy, who admitted to being 12-year-old Arthur Hutchins Jr., a runaway from Illinois, but who was originally from Iowa.

A drifter at a roadside café in Illinois had told Hutchins of his resemblance to the missing Walter, so Hutchins came up with the plan to impersonate him. His motive was to get to Hollywood so he could meet his favorite actor, Tom Mix. Collins was released ten days after Hutchins admitted that he was not her son, and filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department. This aspect of the case is depicted in the 2008 film Changeling[6], although in the film Hutchins does not confess until after Mrs. Collins has been released.

Collins went on to win a lawsuit against Jones and was awarded $10,800, which Jones never paid. Five years after Gordon Northcott's execution, one of the boys previously thought to be murdered by Northcott was found alive and well. As Walter Collins' body had not been found, Christine Collins still hoped that Walter had survived. She continued to search for him for the rest of her life, but she died without ever knowing her son's fate. The last public record of Christine Collins is from 1941, when she attempted to collect a $15,562 judgment against Captain Jones (by then a retired police officer) in the Superior Court.

Arthur J. Hutchins, Jr.

Arthur J. Hutchins Jr (c.1916 – c.1954)

In 1933 Arthur J. Hutchins, Jr. wrote about how and why he impersonated the missing boy. Hutchins' biological mother had died when he was 9 years old, and he had been living with his stepmother, Violet Hutchins. He pretended to be Walter Collins to get as far away as possible from her. After living on the road for a month he arrived in DeKalb. When police brought him in, they began to ask him questions about Walter Collins. Originally, Hutchins stated that he did not know about Walter, but changed his story when he saw the possibility of getting to California.

After Arthur Hutchins reached adulthood, he sold concessions at carnivals. He eventually moved back to California as a horse trainer and jockey. He died of a blood clot in 1954, leaving behind a wife and young daughter, Carol. According to Carol Hutchins, "My dad was full of adventure. In my mind, he could do no wrong."

Rev. Gustav Briegleb

Dr. Gustav A. Briegleb (September 26, 1881 – May 20, 1943)

Briegleb was a Presbyterian minister and pioneer radio evangelist. He was the pastor of St. Paul's Presbyterian Church, Jefferson Boulevard at Third Avenue, Los Angeles, California. He took up many important causes in the City of Los Angeles in the 1920s and 1930s, most notably the poor handling of the Walter Collins kidnapping case in 1928. He fought to have Christine Collins released from a mental hospital after she was committed there as retaliation for not going along with the LAPD's version of events.

Lewis and Nelson Winslow

Lewis Winslow (c.1916 – c.1928)
Nelson Winslow, Jr
(c.1918 – c.1928)

Lewis, age 12, and Nelson, age 10, were the sons of Mr. and Mrs. Nelson H. Lewis, Sr. They went missing on May 16, 1928 from Pomona, California. On May 26, 1928, H. Gordon Moore, a local Scoutmaster, reported that they ran away to Imperial, California to pick cantaloupes and helped with the search for the two boys. Gordon Northcott was convicted of kidnapping and killing the Winslow brothers. Nelson Winslow, Sr. led a lynch mob with the intent of hanging Gordon Stewart Northcott after completion of the trial but before sentencing. The police convinced the group to disband before seeing Northcott.

Popular culture

"The Big Imposter," an episode of the radio series Dragnet, which aired on June 7, 1951, was based on these events. When the show moved to television, the radio script was adapted into a teleplay and broadcast on December 4, 1952. The plot focuses primarily on the story of Arthur Hutchins' impersonation of Walter Collins. In this version, the parental figure who reports the disappearance of the character based on Walter Collins is a widowed grandfather, raising the child on his own after the deaths of the boy's parents, rather than a single mother.

Changeling, a 2008 film written by J. Michael Straczynski and directed by Clint Eastwood, is also based on the Northcott case. The film primarily depicts the plight of Christine Collins (played by Angelina Jolie), the mother of Walter Collins, and her search for her real son. The film depicts all the major figures except for Sarah Louise Northcott. The film, however, suggests that at least one of the Winslow boys and even perhaps Walter Collins escaped the farm.

Further reading

  • Duffy, Clinton T. (1962). 88 Men and 2 Women. Doubleday.

  • Flacco, Anthony; Jerry Clark (November 2009). The Road Out of Hell: Sanford Clark and the True Story of the Wineville Murders. Union Square Press. ISBN 978-1-4027-68699.

  • Jenkins, Philip (2004). Moral Panic: Changing Concepts of the Child Molester in Modern America. Yale University Press. p. 221. ISBN 0300109636.

  • Jenkins, Philip (1994). Using Murder: The Social Construction of Serial Homicide. Aldine Transaction. p. 184. ISBN 0202305252.

  • Paul, James Jeffrey (September 2008). Nothing is Strange with You: The Life and Crimes of Gordon Stewart Northcott. Xlibris. ISBN 978-1-4363-6627-4.

  • Rasmussen, Cecilia (October 1998). L. A. Unconventional: The Men & Women Who Did L. A. Their Way. Los Angeles Times. ISBN 978-1883792237.

Wikipedia.org

 

 

 
 
 
 
home last updates contact