"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." —Clint Eastwood, director of THE CHANGELING
The film story of young Sanford Clark and his forced participation in the Wineville Murders was covered in Clint Eastwood's movie, THE CHANGELING, but for answers to the questions Eastwood posed after completing the project, turn to the true story of the Wineville murders: Anthony Flacco's THE ROAD OUT OF HELL. The hell part isn't what makes the story important; it's the road out that does.
From 1926 to 1928, Gordon Stewart Northcott committed at least 20 murders on a chicken ranch outside of Los Angeles. His nephew, Sanford Clark, was held captive there from the age of 13 to 15, and was the sole surviving victim of the killing spree. Here, acclaimed crime writer Anthony Flacco—using never-before-heard information from Sanford’s son, Jerry Clark—tells the real story behind the case that riveted the nation.
Forced by Northcott 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 Clark went on to live as a decorated WWII vet, a devoted husband of 55 years, a loving father, and a productive citizen.
In dramatizing one of the darkest cases in American crime, Flacco constructs a riveting psychological drama about how Sanford was able to detoxify himself from the evil he’d encountered, offering the ultimately redemptive story of one man’s remarkable ability to survive a nightmare and emerge intact.
Crime novelist and true-crime writer Flacco (A Checklist for Murder) gives the reader a front-row seat in the harrowing Wineville, Calif., murders where, between 1926 and 1928, Gordon Stewart Northcott, with the aid of his nephew Sanford Clark, killed at least 20 people at a remote chicken ranch outside of Los Angeles. The unwilling accomplice Sanford was 13 when he was sent by his parents to stay with his uncle, who continually brutalized and sodomized him while killing a series of helpless boys. Flacco reconstructs the details of the grisly murders, with Northcott's dotty mother, Louise, sometimes joining the bloody mayhem. Eventually, the cops caught up with Northcott and his ritual killings, and he was hung after a sensational trial in which Sanford was the star witness. With a heartfelt epilogue by Jerry Clark, Sanford's son, this well-told tale of senseless killing, guilt and redemption of a young innocent is a page-turner. 16 pages of b&w photos.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Hard, good read
Very hard to read a person can survive such conditions. Love to see it turn around to a rewarding conclusion.
This was an incredible but difficult read. It is simply amazing that Mr. Clark overcame such tragedies to go onto have a "normal" life. My heart breaks for the victims and their families. Very well written and recommended.
I read this in one day couldn't stop. It was very disturbing but an emotional read of what this man went through emotionally and physically. I only hope now he's over his demons that haunted him while he was alive. May god bless this man and his family forever.
Now he can rest in peace