Saturday, December 02, 2023

Sunday Synopsis - true crime

The Road Out of Hell: Sanford Clark and the True Story of the Wineville MurdersThe Road Out of Hell: Sanford Clark and the True Story of the Wineville Murders by Anthony Flacco
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You may have seen a Clint Eastwood movie called The Changeling. I have never seen it, but as I understand things, it covers the events in about half of this true crime story. The book is always better, though.

Sanford Clark was only 13 when his mother sent him from Canada to a chicken ranch near Los Angeles to live with his uncle Gordon Stewart Northcott. She may have known what she was getting him into since her own mother, which was also Stewart's mother, actively participated in some of Stewart's crimes and turned a blind eye to others.

From 1926 to 1928, Sanford Clark was tortured, sexually abused, beaten, and forced to participate in the murder of several young boys that Stewart lured to his farm for his own sick pleasure. He bore witness to Stewart's crimes (kidnapping, molestation, murder) and came out on the other side, heavily guilt-ridden. In fact, he spent most of the rest of his life trying to make up for his past even though as a boy who was held captive he had no choice but to participate in this hell that was forced on him or be killed himself.

This story is terrifying because these gruesome acts actually happened. I don't know how Sanford survived, but he did, unlike the kidnapped boys who were as young as 9 years old. Sanford got an education, served his country during WWI, got married, had children, and by all accounts was a respected father, husband, and member of the community. Not that the hell ever actually left him. There were dark hours and dark days. But he came out on the other side.

In this book, his son Jerry is a co-author and adds details that no one else would know about Sanford's life after the Wineville chicken coop murders except Sanford's son. It's an excellent and well-written true tale.

Interesting side note - Wineville changed its name in 1930 due to the negative publicity surrounding this case. It became known as Mira Loma.

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1 comment:

  1. What a horror! While I'm glad he survived, I do hope he found healing at some point.


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