The Wineville Chicken Coop Murders

Heather Monroe
8 min readOct 1, 2019

Gordon Stuart Northcott was responsible for the torture and murder of at least four young boys in the sleepy town of Wineville, California.

Booking Photograph, 1930, Royal Canadian Mounted Police by Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

In the late 1920s, quaint agricultural communities peppered the landscape of Southern California, not far from the thriving metropolis of Los Angeles. One of these was the sleepy community of Wineville. In 1924, Canadian Gordon Northcott chose to carve out a life as a chicken rancher in the little town after garnering suspicion of sexual misconduct in Canada. Gordon built a home with the help of his father Cyrus Gordon, who was a contractor.

Gordon had a rough start attempting to turn the shrubbery laden land into a proper ranch. In 1926, Gordon procured help from his 13-year-old nephew, Sanford Clark, from his home in Saskatchewan. Little did the family back in Canada know, Sanford would fall prey to his pedophile uncle and become both witness and unwitting accomplice in one of the most horrific strings of child murder seen before or since.

The Disappearance of Walter Collins

On March 10, 1928, Christine Collins came home to an empty house in the Lincoln Heights area of Los Angeles. Her son, Walter, went to see a movie hours prior, but never returned. His father, Walter Sr., was an eight-time convict with many enemies in the area. Police speculated that an enemy of his father abducted the boy, or that he might have run away. The truth was much more sinister.

Christine worked diligently with law enforcement to make sure they left no stone unturned in the search for Walter. Plenty of people reported seeing the child in various places. One neighbor saw him on the corner of Pasadena and North Avenue that evening. A gas station attendant in the nearby city of Glendale reported seeing Walter’s dead body wrapped in newspaper with only his head visible in the back of a car. None of these sightings panned out, and Walter remained missing.

Christine Collins, ca 1928, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain Photograph

Five months after Walter’s disappearance, Christine was relieved to get the phone call that her child was found alive and well in DeKalb, Illinois. The police were relieved too since…

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Heather Monroe

Welcome readers! Heather Monroe is a genealogist and writer who resides in California with her partner and their nine children. •True Crime• History• Memoir•