Christine Collins

Photo Of The Day

From left, prosecutor Earl (sometimes spelled Earle) Redwine, Loyal Kelley, A.H. de Tremaudan (sometimes spelled Tremandon), J. McKinley Cameron, David Sokol, Gordon Northcott and Norbert Savay. (Los Angeles Times file photo).

From left, prosecutor Earl (sometimes spelled Earle) Redwine, Loyal Kelley, A.H. de Tremaudan (sometimes spelled Tremandon), J. McKinley Cameron, David Sokol, Gordon Northcott and Norbert Savay. (Los Angeles Times file photo).

Road Out of Hell

And you wonder: How the hell did this guy go on to be a loving father and grandfather? How did he bury all that crap?

That’s a story in itself.

As a child of thirteen, Sanford Clark was sent from his home in Canada to live with his uncle, Gordon Stewart Northcott, on a chicken ranch in Wineville, California. It was there that Sanford discovered that his uncle was evil and a rapist and murderer.

During the two years that Sanford was held captive at the murder ranch in the late 1920s, he endured psychological and sexual torture and terrible beatings. Kept in a battered and dazed condition, Sanford was forced to participate in the murders of three young boys and to dispose of the other victims’ bodies according to Northcott’s instructions.

Ultimately, this is a story of redemption. Sanford Clark was exonerated of responsibility for his forced role in the crimes due to what is now known as Stockholm syndrome. This was just a regular young boy who had the misfortune of being captured by an evil being. That evil rained down upon him day and night for two years, in what was for him nothing less than a personal holocaust.

The thing that captured my utter fascination was the question of how young Sanford was able to live with the horrors in his memory for the next sixty-three years. And then there is the fact that in spite of his inner life, he won over everyone who got to know him, including people who knew him intimately over many years.

From 1926 to 1928, Gordon Stewart Northcott committed at least 20 murders on a chicken ranch outside of Los Angeles. His thirteen- year-old nephew, Sanford Clark, was the sole surviving victim of the killing spree. Forced to take part in the murders, Sanford carried tremendous guilt all his life. Yet despite his youth and the trauma, he helped gain some justice for the dead and their families by testifying at Northcott’s trial-which led to his conviction and execution. It was a shocking story, but perhaps the most shocking part of all is the extraordinarily ordinary life Sanford went on to live as a decorated WWII vet, a devoted husband of 55 years, a loving father, and a productive citizen.

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

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