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The Road Out of Hell: Sanford Clark and the True Story of the Wineville Murders

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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 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.  


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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 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.  

30 review for The Road Out of Hell: Sanford Clark and the True Story of the Wineville Murders

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paul Brandel

    I've noticed some folks here on goodreads didn't enjoy this book. It's not any easy nor enjoyable read,far from it! But the fact that this kid could go through so much with his truly evil uncle,including being raped and molested.But STILL grow up to be a fine upstanding man and husband is REMARKABLE! Too bad I can't give this book more than 5 stars. I've noticed some folks here on goodreads didn't enjoy this book. It's not any easy nor enjoyable read,far from it! But the fact that this kid could go through so much with his truly evil uncle,including being raped and molested.But STILL grow up to be a fine upstanding man and husband is REMARKABLE! Too bad I can't give this book more than 5 stars.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Carlos

    This was such a tough book to read , not because it was badly written but because of its subject matter. The Wineville murders were unknown to me before I read this book, it is unbelievable to be able to comprehend how much suffering this guy went through at the hand of his uncle . This is a biography more or less and trigger warning (the first 100 pages will be very hardcore). If you want to read more about crime and/or redemption stories...this is the book for you. Slow reading after the first This was such a tough book to read , not because it was badly written but because of its subject matter. The Wineville murders were unknown to me before I read this book, it is unbelievable to be able to comprehend how much suffering this guy went through at the hand of his uncle . This is a biography more or less and trigger warning (the first 100 pages will be very hardcore). If you want to read more about crime and/or redemption stories...this is the book for you. Slow reading after the first 100 pages .

  3. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    The crimes committed by Gordon Northcott in Wineville, California were heinous enough for the city to later change its name to Mira Loma. That’s saying something right there. This book was insane. It read like fiction and it was easy to forget that it wasn’t. I wanted it to be fiction. Sanford Clark was only 13 when his uncle Gordon took him with him from Canada to Wineville, a small town outside of Los Angeles. Sanford’s mom allowed it and his Dad didn’t try hard to stop it. So off he goes with The crimes committed by Gordon Northcott in Wineville, California were heinous enough for the city to later change its name to Mira Loma. That’s saying something right there. This book was insane. It read like fiction and it was easy to forget that it wasn’t. I wanted it to be fiction. Sanford Clark was only 13 when his uncle Gordon took him with him from Canada to Wineville, a small town outside of Los Angeles. Sanford’s mom allowed it and his Dad didn’t try hard to stop it. So off he goes with his uncle who had just two years ago, left Canada due to neighbors complaints about his contact with their children. The uncle starts up a chicken farm as a cover for his activities. Things go bad quickly for Sanford. His uncle is abusive, physically and sexually. The only thing that stops the abuse brings Sanford little relief for when he is left alone, it means his uncle has found someone else to torture. I won’t give anymore details but this is one twisted tale. I haven’t rated this yet and don’t know that I will. I often have a hard time rating true crime.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    "I have never read a book like this in my life. When I finished, I wanted to crawl into a ball and sob but also wanted to throw up at the thought of everything that little boy had to suffer. I'm still shaken up by the book that my stomach is still churning several hours after finishing, but I wanted to write this review while my feelings were so raw. [return:][return:][return:]Unfortunately, I had no idea what the Wineville murders were. My knowledge of them unfolded only as I kept turning the p "I have never read a book like this in my life. When I finished, I wanted to crawl into a ball and sob but also wanted to throw up at the thought of everything that little boy had to suffer. I'm still shaken up by the book that my stomach is still churning several hours after finishing, but I wanted to write this review while my feelings were so raw. [return:][return:][return:]Unfortunately, I had no idea what the Wineville murders were. My knowledge of them unfolded only as I kept turning the page. My horror at Sanford's story increased from page to page, and yet I kept reading. I wanted to make sure that he survived, to find out how he was found, and to make sure that devil incarnate burned in hell for what he did to those boys. The need to make sure Sanford was okay kept me reading long after I knew I should have stopped. I don't do horror stories, and this was that much more horrific because it is a true one.[return:][return:][return:]Flacco does a tremendous job of presenting the story from Sanford's point of view. Visceral and haunting don't even begin to cover the adjectives to describe the book, while the emotions that run through the reader as Sanford struggles to assuage his guilt at the experiences his uncle forces him to have run the gamut from denial to horror and back again. The first-person narrative makes the story that much more powerful. Thankfully, just at the point where the reader cannot possibly take any more evil, Flacco transfers to a third-person narrative and describes Sanford's rescue and recovery. Such a hellish book ends on a note of hope that someone so abused that he feels guilty about what he was forced to do can lead a life of normalcy and become a well-beloved model citizen. Sanford's redemption proves that there is still good in the world even after the reader questions this very idea in the beginning. [return:][return:][return:]I received this book as part of the BBAW giveaway from Sterling Publishing. I am glad I read it but I can't help but feel that I lost just a bit of my naivete at learning the full story of what went on in Wineville, California in the 1920s. It is a story that is going to haunt my dreams for a long time to come."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Charmaine Stephens

    Wow this book takes you on such a journey! Its definitely off the track from my normal smut reading. It's not pretty or pleasant and this doesn’t end on quite a happy note. But it’s definitely worth the read. What intrigued me to read this to begin with was recently I’ve been watching this great show “American Horror Story Hotel” and couple weeks ago they had an episode that featured The WineVille Chicken coop Murders. At first the story was so horrific that I thought this had to be made up Wow this book takes you on such a journey! Its definitely off the track from my normal smut reading. It's not pretty or pleasant and this doesn’t end on quite a happy note. But it’s definitely worth the read. What intrigued me to read this to begin with was recently I’ve been watching this great show “American Horror Story Hotel” and couple weeks ago they had an episode that featured The WineVille Chicken coop Murders. At first the story was so horrific that I thought this had to be made up fictionalized. But when I found out it was actually real. It blows my mind! And broke my heart at the same time. There’s also a movie “The Changeling” that shows this story too but I don’t think it focuses as much as it should on the murders. Stewart Norcott is one of the sickest, evil, disgusting, psychopaths I’ve ever read or heard about. I don’t know what got him to be the evil way he is. But he is a complete evil sadistic bastard. And he’s disgusting for what he did to so many poor innocent children in the early 1920s. I think he deserved everything and more that he received. There’s no punishment harsh enough for him. Or that could replace all the lives lost. I felt no sympathy or remorse for him whatsoever. He has no redeeming qualities. Just pure evil raping killer bastard. Fuck you Stewart!! FUCK YOU! My heart went out to Sanford Clark the young kid that had to be tortured through all of this. Being sent to live with his uncle Stewart. Having no idea his life will change forever once he gets to that chicken ranch. And breaks my heart how I think in some sad twisted way he partially blames himself. But I don’t think he’s to blame at all here. Somewhere along the way he taught himself how to survive as best as he could on that horrible murder ranch. It was either help kill or be killed. I’m glad he came out of it somewhat unscathed but what happened to him will always have a bit of an effect on his psyche. I think that’s completely normal experiencing something that tragic. All in all I enjoyed this book very much. It was well told and made you feel like you were there and the actual pictures of some places and people included in here made it even more chillingly real. Last but certainly not least I personally want to say RIP to all the innocent children victims lives lost. You will never be forgotten. Rest in peace sweet angels.

  6. 5 out of 5

    ♥ Marlene♥

    An Unexpected good read! I had this book on my kindle and it just said The Road out of Hell. I did notice that people who had read it liked it but that was all I knew. So I did not know it was about the Wineville Murders. I consider myself quite knowledgeable about true crime books but I had not heard about this crime. (To be honest I still have to check google to find out more. I of course did google but only searched the images, to worried I would lean the outcome.) Anyway so I did not know where An Unexpected good read! I had this book on my kindle and it just said The Road out of Hell. I did notice that people who had read it liked it but that was all I knew. So I did not know it was about the Wineville Murders. I consider myself quite knowledgeable about true crime books but I had not heard about this crime. (To be honest I still have to check google to find out more. I of course did google but only searched the images, to worried I would lean the outcome.) Anyway so I did not know where this book was going. Back in the days I could "enjoy" a good abuse story but over the last few years I cannot read those books anymore. It must have been the writing that made me keep reading because if I read a book and the abuse takes too long and I can't stand it anymore, I quit. So glad I did not quit because it was such a good read. Now I must warn you do not read this book before you go to sleep because that was what I did and my heart started to race and my eyes were like an owl. Let me tell you, I could not stop reading and I think it was about 02.am that I finished reading. Now I am off to google. 4.5 stars

  7. 4 out of 5

    colleen

    In 1926, at thirteen years of age, Sanford Clark was given away by his mother to his uncle, Gordon Stewart Northcott. Northcott took the boy from Canada and illegally brought him into the United States where he was used as slave labor on a chicken ranch and sexually abused. Northcott also brought other boys to the chicken ranch to sexually abuse and murder. He forced Sanford to help him dispose of some of the boys. He used that and the fact that the boy was in the US illegally to keep Sanford fr In 1926, at thirteen years of age, Sanford Clark was given away by his mother to his uncle, Gordon Stewart Northcott. Northcott took the boy from Canada and illegally brought him into the United States where he was used as slave labor on a chicken ranch and sexually abused. Northcott also brought other boys to the chicken ranch to sexually abuse and murder. He forced Sanford to help him dispose of some of the boys. He used that and the fact that the boy was in the US illegally to keep Sanford from reporting Northcott for his crimes. While Sanford was held captive on the chicken ranch he was not allowed to go to school or play with local children. His only escape was in reading books in secret. The abuse finally ended when a visit from Sanford's sister scared Northcott into fleeing. Once the police found out about the murders, they captured Northcott and after his trial he was executed. Sanford was sent to Whittier Boys School and then released at age seventeen. He went back to Canada and lived a normal life. Due to the title, I expected more of the book to be about Sanford's life after his uncle was caught, but the bulk of the book deals with his time spent with his uncle on the chicken ranch. I was quite impressed that Sanford managed to make a good life for himself despite all he had gone through. One often hears about criminals claiming that childhood abuse is the reason why they are criminals. Sanford proves that this does not have to be true. It depends on the person. He was an amazing person to be able to have such a good productive life after the torture and abuse he endured. Flacco writes a riveting recounting of the horrors endured by Sanford Clark as his uncle's captive and his recovery and adult life. It is also an uplifing tale in that Sanford had the strength of character to shape his own life rather than allow his uncle's abuses to shape him. A well written book, I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys reading true crime books.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Alesha Leveritt

    I don't hand out a lot of five star ratings. A book has to be more than be well-written for that - actually that's not even the highest criterion. For a five star rating, a book must speak to me. This one does. I won't summarize. There are many reviews and reviewers that have done that. I will simply give you three reasons you need to read this book. 1) You will close it knowing without a doubt that evil exists, and that it cannot be satiated with kindness. Gordon Stewart Northcutt makes Jeffrey D I don't hand out a lot of five star ratings. A book has to be more than be well-written for that - actually that's not even the highest criterion. For a five star rating, a book must speak to me. This one does. I won't summarize. There are many reviews and reviewers that have done that. I will simply give you three reasons you need to read this book. 1) You will close it knowing without a doubt that evil exists, and that it cannot be satiated with kindness. Gordon Stewart Northcutt makes Jeffrey Dahmer look mild by comparison. 2) You will close this book feeling the fathomable pain and guilt of Sanford Clark, and you will also understand that he was an incredible husband and father. 3) You will close this book knowing that good triumphs over evil, when we let it. Our society doesn't like to think evil exists: it's too uncomfortable a concept, I suppose. It destroys the false safety we feel. We prefer to think that all monsters are created by circumstance and can be excused for that reason. Sanford Clark had every excuse in the world to become a monster. Narcissistic mother, weak father, abusive and psychotic grandmother, and I'm not sure there are adequate adjectives to describe his uncle... But he didn't become a monster: he became a man who loved (REALLY loved) his wife. He became a man who loved children that were his, without biology. He became a hero. The only tragedy is that this is a small footnote to Northcott, or *The Changling.*. THIS is the real story. And Sanford Clark has joined my list of heroes, and my list of the greatest men who ever did what we do often hear is impossible: conquered evil, beat the odds.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rita

    Everytime I read these evil true crime stories about people, I come away from it thinking that this is the worst I have ever read. The Road Out Of Hell was the most EVIL of books and what makes it worse is that it was committed by a trusted family member on a child. Anthony Flacco is indeed a very unique writer of true crime because his book grabbed me right at the first page. As I continued down this path about a diabolical monster preying on children, this author told a riveting psychological d Everytime I read these evil true crime stories about people, I come away from it thinking that this is the worst I have ever read. The Road Out Of Hell was the most EVIL of books and what makes it worse is that it was committed by a trusted family member on a child. Anthony Flacco is indeed a very unique writer of true crime because his book grabbed me right at the first page. As I continued down this path about a diabolical monster preying on children, this author told a riveting psychological drama as it unfolded revealing just how dysfunctional this family became and the horror the victims must have suffered. I can only hope that victims such as these who suffer guilt and shame may find their guardian angels like this young man's story. I highly recommend this book and commend the author for serving this one straight from the heart. 5 Stars

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    Immediate response notes - Review proper to follow: I cannot remember the last time I cried whilst reading a book. I've cried watching films and documentaries because they present animated imagery to see. Books are but words only...unless they are so powerful that they embed themselves into your being and you cannot stop the emotions overflowing, nor the horror of imagining what must have befell the poor unfortunates. This account is written with compassion and without self pity or sentimentally a Immediate response notes - Review proper to follow: I cannot remember the last time I cried whilst reading a book. I've cried watching films and documentaries because they present animated imagery to see. Books are but words only...unless they are so powerful that they embed themselves into your being and you cannot stop the emotions overflowing, nor the horror of imagining what must have befell the poor unfortunates. This account is written with compassion and without self pity or sentimentally and is a tribute to all the victims in this case.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    This is a story that will stay with you and rip your heart out. The content is not an easy read by any means. The accounts recalled here are graphic and harrowing. I wanted to reach into this book so many times to just embrace Sanford and shield him from the terrors he faced. Ultimately this book is a testament of the triumph of the human spirit in the face of pure evil.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Daphne Vogel

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Sanford's development is bittersweet, because he clearly could never forgive himself for his inability to save more people, or for what he was forced to do on that ranch. He was never able to entirely shake that line his uncle sold him about guilt. But I'm glad an entire third of the book is dedicated to his life after escaping. Uncle Stewart's is a truly disturbing account balanced only by Sanford's efforts, his constant fight to not succumb, a great need to be productive and do good, to raise Sanford's development is bittersweet, because he clearly could never forgive himself for his inability to save more people, or for what he was forced to do on that ranch. He was never able to entirely shake that line his uncle sold him about guilt. But I'm glad an entire third of the book is dedicated to his life after escaping. Uncle Stewart's is a truly disturbing account balanced only by Sanford's efforts, his constant fight to not succumb, a great need to be productive and do good, to raise a loving family, and help his community, all while brutally scarred both emotionally and physically by what he had to suffer in his two years on that ranch. This book is a difficult look at what can happen when you have not only a serial killer, but a family that enables that serial killer, even to the point of aiding and abetting. That was almost more shocking than the killer himself. Sanford was an innocent thrown willingly to the lions by a knowing mother who'd rather lose her least favorite child. Words cannot describe how cheated I feel by the fact she faced no charges. And this family was clearly riddled with a deficiency of conscience: the mother killed Walter Collins with an axe to help her son, her son killed at least twenty children, her daughter knowingly gave him another child to rape and torture. It's understandable, if regrettable, that this predisposition would be another concern that plagued Sanford. If you're looking for the account of someone who can experience the depths of hell and still walk out believing there's good in the world, then this book's for you.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tim Nordstrom

    I had a hard time getting into this book because of the writing style. Based on the reviews it seemed to work for many readers, but I didn't care for it. It reads more like a fictional novel than a non-fiction account because the authors embellish what is known with a lot of fictional dialog and detail, which they mention in the Preface. As much as the "speculation and dramatization" may be "bounded by the known facts..." and the "the manner of each character's speech" may be "taken from transcr I had a hard time getting into this book because of the writing style. Based on the reviews it seemed to work for many readers, but I didn't care for it. It reads more like a fictional novel than a non-fiction account because the authors embellish what is known with a lot of fictional dialog and detail, which they mention in the Preface. As much as the "speculation and dramatization" may be "bounded by the known facts..." and the "the manner of each character's speech" may be "taken from transcriptions of their spoken words," I would've preferred a straight factual telling of what happened without made-up dialog and drama. The story -- both its horrific nature and its story of redemption -- would have easily stood on its own. Moreover, the actual writing of the dialog, drama, etc. was awkward and hard to read, for me. So again -- this seems to work for a lot of readers, but it might be smart to read a sample before buying, since it is quite different from a traditional non-fiction account.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Scoop Erickson

    The emotional honesty of this book is almost too much to bear at times. It horrified me and broke my heart. The movie, The Changeling, starring Angelina Jolie, was based on this murder case. This book tells the story of the psychotic murderer's only witness, the young nephew he forced into his personal hell. The boy not only survived, but lived a long, good, and productive life. Tormented by guilt, flashbacks, brutal migraines for the rest of his life, he sought comfort and redemption in the pur The emotional honesty of this book is almost too much to bear at times. It horrified me and broke my heart. The movie, The Changeling, starring Angelina Jolie, was based on this murder case. This book tells the story of the psychotic murderer's only witness, the young nephew he forced into his personal hell. The boy not only survived, but lived a long, good, and productive life. Tormented by guilt, flashbacks, brutal migraines for the rest of his life, he sought comfort and redemption in the pursuit of normality, love and grace towards others. Not light reading by any stretch of the imagination, but impossible to put down.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    The true story of Stanford Clark is horrific and remarkable!!! Any person that blames a "rough" childhood for the wrong doings of their adulthood may feel a bit wimpy after reading this book! This young man endured a evil few could ever imagine. I don't want to give any of this book away... just trust me.... READ IT!!! An incredible story that will give you strength. This kid is a inspiration to anyone that has battled through the toughest adversity. I picked this book out by chance.... turned o The true story of Stanford Clark is horrific and remarkable!!! Any person that blames a "rough" childhood for the wrong doings of their adulthood may feel a bit wimpy after reading this book! This young man endured a evil few could ever imagine. I don't want to give any of this book away... just trust me.... READ IT!!! An incredible story that will give you strength. This kid is a inspiration to anyone that has battled through the toughest adversity. I picked this book out by chance.... turned out to be very lucky. ANYONE should find this book amazing. But I will warn you. Some of it is a little tough to read. Especially if you have kids.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    Amateurish and Banal Really it's tragic what happened for Sanford. And his Uncle was a horrible murder rapist who deserved to die. But who were All these people who have this thing a 5/5. It honestly reads like a combination of of a Dick and Jane book and and some sort of genealogy document for Falco's family. Really after the crimes, no one cares if he puttered around the garden and enjoyed volunteer work. I couldn't skim fast enough by the end as an amateurish writing style becomes downright bor Amateurish and Banal Really it's tragic what happened for Sanford. And his Uncle was a horrible murder rapist who deserved to die. But who were All these people who have this thing a 5/5. It honestly reads like a combination of of a Dick and Jane book and and some sort of genealogy document for Falco's family. Really after the crimes, no one cares if he puttered around the garden and enjoyed volunteer work. I couldn't skim fast enough by the end as an amateurish writing style becomes downright boring. I fought hard to give it a 2. Worst piece of carp I've read all year.

  17. 4 out of 5

    SouthWestZippy

    This is the True Crime story of the Wineville Murders that occurred in the late 1920's. I just could not put this book down. Parts of this book left me in a state of disbelief that a monster like Gordon Stewart Northcott got away with what he was doing for so long. Anthony Flacco did a wonderful job of pulling you into Sanford Clark's, a innocent boy,horrific account of survival. I also like the added chapters of what happen to Sanford as he grew up and had a family of his own. Must warn others This is the True Crime story of the Wineville Murders that occurred in the late 1920's. I just could not put this book down. Parts of this book left me in a state of disbelief that a monster like Gordon Stewart Northcott got away with what he was doing for so long. Anthony Flacco did a wonderful job of pulling you into Sanford Clark's, a innocent boy,horrific account of survival. I also like the added chapters of what happen to Sanford as he grew up and had a family of his own. Must warn others it is at times VERY graphic with the details of the murders and abuse.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ronna

    This is a hard book to rate. Writing 5 stars. The subject matter is very disturbing. I read a lot of serial killer type books, but this one is one of the most upsetting, likely because almost all the victims were children. It IS a very good read, if you can withstand what the monster did to his victims, including his own nephew. The story of Sanford's reintegration to society and living an exemplary life, after being rescued, was powerful. Picked it because of the connection to my hometown (Sask This is a hard book to rate. Writing 5 stars. The subject matter is very disturbing. I read a lot of serial killer type books, but this one is one of the most upsetting, likely because almost all the victims were children. It IS a very good read, if you can withstand what the monster did to his victims, including his own nephew. The story of Sanford's reintegration to society and living an exemplary life, after being rescued, was powerful. Picked it because of the connection to my hometown (Saskatoon, Canada).

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    Harrowing, gripping and redemptive.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bettye McKee

    Faint-hearted need not apply I had to take lengthy breaks while reading this book. It was so difficult to come to terms with the fact that this is a true story. Although much has been written about the Wineville murders, I don't believe the full story has been told before. When Sanford Clark was 13 years of age, his mother, Winifred Clark, gave him to her brother, Gordon Stewart Northcott. Uncle Stewart took him from his home in Saskatoon to an area near Los Angeles where Sanford was raped, beaten Faint-hearted need not apply I had to take lengthy breaks while reading this book. It was so difficult to come to terms with the fact that this is a true story. Although much has been written about the Wineville murders, I don't believe the full story has been told before. When Sanford Clark was 13 years of age, his mother, Winifred Clark, gave him to her brother, Gordon Stewart Northcott. Uncle Stewart took him from his home in Saskatoon to an area near Los Angeles where Sanford was raped, beaten, starved, and forced to do all the work of building a house and chicken farm. He was responsible for maintaining and running the chicken farm for the benefit of Stewart and his mother. Stewart Northcott was an evil young man who kidnapped, raped (repeatedly, usually for a week), and murdered many young boys and forced Sanford to participate in the killings, to dig graves, to carry food to the boys while they were caged in chicken coops. Sanford was Stewart's captive for two endless years, always knowing that Stewart would also kill him the minute he became a liability. Anthony Flacco has gifted his readers with the truth of this highly dysfunctional family who aided Stewart in his terrible crimes and protected him. Along with Sanford's adopted son, through memories, documents, interviews and records, the story has been pieced together to bring it into the light. Includes photos. 10

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sarah (furby.reads)

    I picked this book up at a library sale, not knowing what it was about, except that it was a True Crime novel, and I'm obsessed with True Crime. I'm so glad I chose this book. It was so heart breaking, disgusting, and absolutely awful to read about the heinous crimes of torture, rape, and murder that Sanford's uncle committed. I cried multiple times throughout this novel. Reading that Sanford survived that Hell farm and lived an honorable life made me truly happy, and made that awful story worth I picked this book up at a library sale, not knowing what it was about, except that it was a True Crime novel, and I'm obsessed with True Crime. I'm so glad I chose this book. It was so heart breaking, disgusting, and absolutely awful to read about the heinous crimes of torture, rape, and murder that Sanford's uncle committed. I cried multiple times throughout this novel. Reading that Sanford survived that Hell farm and lived an honorable life made me truly happy, and made that awful story worth it. The writing was spectacular, and I felt like I was trapped in Hell along with Sandford and those poor boys. Honestly, this is a must read, even though it's extremely tragic and disturbing.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    What could have been a horrible, depressing, soul-crushing story had a fairly happy ending. How such a tortured and tormented little boy could turn out to be such a good, kind, gentle man is a miracle in itself. I would have liked a bit more background on Walter Colllins’ mother and the Winslow brothers’ families and what they were doing at this time. But I understand it wasn’t their story.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    This scratched my true crime, non-fiction itch. It is brutally detailed and I would not recommend it for the sensitive. That being said the writing style is excellent and it makes for a quick engaging read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jaimee McGuire

    This is a ROUGH read, but it is well-written and interesting. I had to put it down several times because some of the scenes are horribly disturbing. This was a family full of evil, and many children paid the price.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Allison Whisler

    Tough, heartbreaking read, but the sparks of light and hope made it worth it. So shocking and sad, it's almost unbelievable. Tough, heartbreaking read, but the sparks of light and hope made it worth it. So shocking and sad, it's almost unbelievable.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kristyn

    This book isn't exactly a factual telling of what happened on the Wineville Chicken Ranch. I have learned more details about this case by reading about it on the internet. I feel that Stewart's brutality was actually glossed over a bit and I didn't learn much about the victims at all. There was no mention of how many victims there were thought to be or anything like that. Maybe I'm a complete weirdo for wanting the details, but I didn't feel there were enough here to truly understand how horrifi This book isn't exactly a factual telling of what happened on the Wineville Chicken Ranch. I have learned more details about this case by reading about it on the internet. I feel that Stewart's brutality was actually glossed over a bit and I didn't learn much about the victims at all. There was no mention of how many victims there were thought to be or anything like that. Maybe I'm a complete weirdo for wanting the details, but I didn't feel there were enough here to truly understand how horrific Stewart actually was.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Geri Spieler

    Book Review The Road Out Of Hell-- Sanford Clark and the True Story of the Wineville Murders By Anthony Flacco with Jerry Clark Union Square Press; 285 pages, It's not often we get to hear the story from the victim of a serial killer as we do in this sensitively written account of Sanford Clark, the nephew of serial killer Gordon Stewart Northcott. In 1926 Northcott snatched his nephew, 13 year old Sanford, away from his self centered sister and used him for sex as well as his servant and accompl Book Review The Road Out Of Hell-- Sanford Clark and the True Story of the Wineville Murders By Anthony Flacco with Jerry Clark Union Square Press; 285 pages, It's not often we get to hear the story from the victim of a serial killer as we do in this sensitively written account of Sanford Clark, the nephew of serial killer Gordon Stewart Northcott. In 1926 Northcott snatched his nephew, 13 year old Sanford, away from his self centered sister and used him for sex as well as his servant and accomplice as Northcott raped, tortured and murdered about 20 young boys on his chicken ranch outside of Los Angeles. This scenario repeated itself with escalating mania for two years before Northcott was caught, convicted and executed by the state. In an earlier work about Northcott and his crimes, James Jeffrey Paul's book, Nothing Is Strange With You: The Life and Crimes of Gordon Stewart Northcott, Paul details the facts about Northcott and the legal ramifications of his crimes, as horrific as anything we've ever known. But what of the nephew, Sanford Clark, Northcott's victim accomplice who managed to survive the psychopathic depravity and sexual abuse at the hands of his uncle? Sanford was small for his age during the years he lived with Northcott. He was young, alone and so dominated by his abusive uncle that he lost all sense of the outside world. He fully believed he would become Northcott's next victim. Daily Northcott abused Sanford with beatings, humiliation, demeaning his intellect, satisfying his sexual needs and enlisting him to carry out his perverted atrocities on young boys he lured to his ranch with promises of horseback riding, baby rabbit hutches or a day's work. This constant terror forced Sanford to subsume his individuality to suit his uncle's appetites for sex and control There is nothing that can change the facts about Sanford's victimization at the hands of Northcott, but we can learn much. The story is told from inside Sanford's head as he attempts to survive his hellish life one minute to the next. Like I was consumed reading about Sanford's life that I inhaled the hope he finally found when, "He felt a quick burst of pride over how fast he was learning to find his way around the worst of his uncle." My only frustration here, and it is a minor one, is that I wanted to know more, and in greater detail, the thoughts and steps during Sanford's years at the Whittier Boys School where he was sent after the murder trial. It was there he found the love and acceptance so necessary at a critical time in his life. I don't think it is a careless assumption that without the Whittier school, Sanford's remaining years would have been a lot more painful for him and the world around him. It takes an unusually gifted writer to describe Sanford's circumstances without descending into gratuitous salacious descriptions of sexual defilement. Award winning author, Anthony Flacco, is at his best telling true stories as he did in previous books, A Checklist For Murder from Dell Books and Tiny Dancer from St. Martin's Press. He writes from his point of view that the reader should get into the "heart and mind of his central character." He excels in this challenge. Flacco's historical fiction, The Last Nightingale from Random House and The Hidden Man from Ballantine Books, are equally well written and captivating as Flacco uses his main characters well to tell the story, but his powerful literary punch comes from his execution of the personal experience. Painstaking insights into Sanford's strategy to prevail compelled me to keep reading. Although the facts are disgusting, Flacco's writing style is like being carried out of a burning house in the arms of a heroic fire fighter. You know what's happening is really bad, but Flacco's literary embrace, like that of being rescued, allowed me to witness the destruction from a safe place. The book is inspired by Sanford Clark's son, Jerry Clark. It is his tribute to his father's amazing resolve and strength of will to go on and live a full and loving life in spite of his endless fight to exorcise Northcott's demons embedded within him. Jerry Clark achieved his goal here. Readers who are skeptical that children can rise above a hellish childhood will find this book not only uplifting but wonderful to read. Highly recommended. Extremely well crafted. Published in The New York Journal of Books http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/ Geri Spieler is the author of "Taking Aim at the President: The Remarkable Story of the Woman Who Shot at Gerald Ford," Palgrave Macmillan, Jan. 2009

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia Austin

    I don't think anyone can truly understand just how evil Gordon Stewart Northcott was. He took his own blood, his thirteen year old nephew, repeatedly sodomized him, beat him into submission and then forced him to watch as he raped and murdered young boys. If Sanford ever thought he may be rescued by his grandparents, that hope was diminished when Grandma Louise discovered one of the kidnapped boys locked in Stewarts chicken coop and instead of contacting the law, she took an ax and killed the chi I don't think anyone can truly understand just how evil Gordon Stewart Northcott was. He took his own blood, his thirteen year old nephew, repeatedly sodomized him, beat him into submission and then forced him to watch as he raped and murdered young boys. If Sanford ever thought he may be rescued by his grandparents, that hope was diminished when Grandma Louise discovered one of the kidnapped boys locked in Stewarts chicken coop and instead of contacting the law, she took an ax and killed the child for her son. Talk about a very disturbing family. This story has aways hit me deeply. It’s a strange feeling becoming overwhelmed by such emotion of the lives lost 100 years ago, but these crimes were just so heinous that of course there is going to be emotions over these boys decades later. That house. How is that house still standing? I almost want to buy it just to destroy it and return this land back to the undisturbed desert terrain it was before Northcott tarnished it with his deeds from the devil. This book unfolds every sickening detail Sanford Clark was forced to live through with his evil Uncle. If you don’t know about the crime that forced an entire city to change it’s name, you must read this book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    ForenSeek

    Pure human evil, as witnessed by a young boy who was forced to live through years of Hell on Gordon Stewart Northcott's chicken farm in California. Well written, with an emotional approach that takes you right inside the young mind of Sanford Clark, the young boy in question. Presents the objective facts in a way that forces you to engage with the material in a personal, subjective way, a choice that adds to the harrowing nature of the book. Recommended for dark history fans who are able to brac Pure human evil, as witnessed by a young boy who was forced to live through years of Hell on Gordon Stewart Northcott's chicken farm in California. Well written, with an emotional approach that takes you right inside the young mind of Sanford Clark, the young boy in question. Presents the objective facts in a way that forces you to engage with the material in a personal, subjective way, a choice that adds to the harrowing nature of the book. Recommended for dark history fans who are able to brace themselves for a genuinely dark, terrifying read. Poor Sanford....

  30. 5 out of 5

    JESSICA

    True crime story told from the perspective of the captive nephew of Gordon Stewart Northcott, who murdered 20 children in the late 1920's California. See: The Changeling film by Clint Eastwood True crime story told from the perspective of the captive nephew of Gordon Stewart Northcott, who murdered 20 children in the late 1920's California. See: The Changeling film by Clint Eastwood

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