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

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  1,234 Ratings  ·  140 Reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published November 3rd 2009 by Union Square Press (first published 2009)
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Sarah It only briefly mentions this fact in the book. Gordon worked at a local grocery store that the Collins would frequent. Walter was mostly sent to the…moreIt only briefly mentions this fact in the book. Gordon worked at a local grocery store that the Collins would frequent. Walter was mostly sent to the store via his mother, so Gordon only met his mother 1 or 2 times. (less)

Community Reviews

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Paul Brandel
Jul 10, 2010 Paul Brandel rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 06, 2010 Michelle rated it really liked it
"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 ...more
Aug 26, 2010 colleen rated it really liked it
Shelves: act, nonfiction, 2009, arc, reviewed
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 ...more
Geri Spieler
Feb 10, 2010 Geri Spieler rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who is interested in the human condition
Recommended to Geri by: Anthony
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
Charmaine Stephens
Nov 16, 2015 Charmaine Stephens rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dark-side, non-smut
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 fic
Scoop Erickson
Nov 20, 2010 Scoop Erickson rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
May 26, 2015 Sharon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-true
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
martha Boyle
Apr 26, 2010 martha Boyle rated it liked it
For anyone who saw the movie, The Changeling with Angelina Jolie, this is the true story of a serial killer in California in 1930. It is the story of the killer's nephew who was forced to participate--really horrifying and I had to skip some too graphic parts--but it is ultimately a story of survival and how one man triumphed over evil and managed to live a good life. It is the story that the movie was based on.
Feb 24, 2015 Ruth rated it really liked it
Harrowing, gripping and redemptive.
P.e. lolo
Jan 09, 2014 P.e. lolo rated it really liked it
This story is a true crime that took place between 1926 & 1928 in a town called wineville, outside of L.A. The story starts off with the life of the young cousin who by the age of thirteen is sent with his older cousin to help him on his chicken farm in California. They Canada and make the drive all the way down. The terror starts on the trip and does not end for years. It is not until his sister who after a visit and notices changes in her little brother that she knows something is horribly ...more
Denise Barney
Aug 25, 2014 Denise Barney rated it really liked it
In 1929, George Stewart Northcutt was tried in Riverside County and convicted for the murder of twenty boys at his chicken ranch in Wineville. George's nephew, 15-year-old Sanford Clark, was the chief witness for the prosecution.

This is the story of Sanford Clark, of how he came to be held a sexual slave and unwilling accomplice to his uncle, how his grandmother not only ignored the abuse of Sanford, but aided and abetted her son, Stewart, in his crimes.

Ultimately, the story is also about Sanf
♥ Marlene♥
Sep 09, 2015 ♥ Marlene♥ rated it really liked it
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
Laura K
Aug 18, 2013 Laura K rated it liked it
A gripping read that I read solidly through the night. I watched the film 'Changeling' a couple of years ago which is what originally sparked my interest in the book, but my morbid curiosity compels me to read about serial killers in general. This book is well written and although the 'weight' metaphor did grate from overuse I cannot think of another metaphor that could express the intensity of Sanford Clark's trauma. To Flacco's credit, the repetition only reinforces it.
A harrowing story rathe
Aug 11, 2016 Lee rated it it was amazing
This is a very sad story about the manipulation and abuse that Sanford Clark suffered at the hands of his psycho Uncle Stewart. Sanford was sent to live with Uncle Stewart because his domineering, self-centered mother said they could not afford to keep him. His spineless father did nothing to stop this even though they all agreed that there was something "off" about Stewart. Stewart's parents (Sanford's grandparents) were also crazy as well. I had seen the Discovery Channel's Most Evil program ...more
Aquila Reale
Apr 16, 2015 Aquila Reale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vi consiglio vivamente questo libro che vi coinvolgerà dandovi vari temi di riflessione. L’uomo è un mondo misterioso capace di brutture impensabili e bontà illimitata. In molti casi l’una esclude l’altra anche se la distinzione non è sempre così netta.
Lo scrittore Anthony Flacco, per ricostruire questa storia vera, si è avvalso dell’aiuto di Jerry Clark, figlio adottivo di Sanford. La vicenda è alla base del film Changeling di Clint Eastwood.
“Come può un ragazzo attraversare tenebre tanto profo
Sep 28, 2012 Michael rated it it was amazing
The true story of Stanford Clark is horrific and remarkable!!! Any person that blames a "rough" childhood for the wrong doings of their adulthood will feel like a weak-minded fool 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 ...more
Feb 16, 2011 Heather rated it liked it
I found this book utterly repulsive and disturbing. I even found myself wondering how someone could stand to write a book like this. It takes a truly disturbed person to do the things described in this book but I can't imagine how much trauma Flacco went through while compiling the story. I like to think that there is an inherent goodness in every person on this earth because we are all children of God, and I cannot fathom where Uncle Stewart went astray to become this truly evil. That is the ...more
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 is 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 ...more
Jun 23, 2011 Jamie rated it it was amazing
Excellent book! Could not put this book down! It was amazing to me how someone could experience everything that he did aand wound up being normal. The movie Chaingling was supposed to be based on this book but it wasnt even close. BUY this book. This true story is so tradgic that California had to change the name of the town so people would live there again! The best true crime book I've ever read.
Alisi ☆ wants to read too many books ☆
Wow. Well, with a family like this, who needs Satan or a Hell? ;P This pretty much has to be the worst family ever. Poor Sanford!

I hadn't realized that this book was about a serial killer. For as much as I enjoy true crime books, I can't stand serial killer books. It's just so disturbing to know that the monster kept preying on people. =X

I hadn't realize that the movie 'Changeling' was based on this case either.

Nov 29, 2009 Melfie rated it it was amazing
A very well written journey through Sanford's mind. I was captivated and could picture the events and state of mind in my mind. It got me researching and reading more. It's good to see a "true crime" book written with some color and time consistency. It took me a few weeks to make sure clear the spinning thoughts and I have a 8 & 10 year old, Now that I'm done with book, I can move on.
Jul 06, 2015 Sharon rated it it was amazing
Despite it's horrid content, it's a fascinating read and very well written. Clint Eastwood's 2008 movie; The Changeling was based on these events, it centers on a mother's search for one of the victims. I'm not sure I would bother with the movie (I haven't seen it), but I do recommend the book.
Stephanie Konrade
Jul 23, 2016 Stephanie Konrade rated it it was amazing
This book was a well-written, but horrific story. At times I couldn't read it because of the abuse. However, I wanted to see how he was able to survive and live after his terrifying experience. It is a train wreck that I just could not look away from...
Paul Demetre
Nov 20, 2016 Paul Demetre rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The true story of Sanford Clark who was brutally victimized by his uncle outside of LA in the late 20's, as well as his uncle's serial molestation and murder of many other young boys at his chicken ranch.

In spite of this Mr Clark went on to become a wonderful father and productive member of society,. Still he carried many of his inner scars for the rest of his long life, especially his guilt at not being able to save others while he was being victimized.

A stark, troubling story which is ultimate
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 ...more
Chad Montabon
Oct 30, 2016 Chad Montabon rated it liked it
After being vaguely familiar with this story I came across this book. Overall it is a good read, but gets a little artsy at times and fails to complete the story about some of the principals.
Jenni Snider
Oct 13, 2016 Jenni Snider rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Extremely disturbing yet also very inspirational.
May 24, 2012 Linds rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of the movie The Changeling
It's hard to recommend this book to anyone because it is one of the most ghoulish and disturbing true crime books I have ever read. Though that's not to say it's not compelling. I read this because after watching the movie The Changeling I was curious about such a horrific crime that I had never heard about.

Norcott is truly one of the most evil criminals in American history. He was a sadistic kidnapper, rapist, torturer, and murderer of young boys, though he killed a few drifters also for the e
Sep 12, 2015 Marisa rated it it was amazing
I had seen The Changeling years ago, then read up on the actual case it was based upon and in the library one day I came across this book. I put off checking it out for years, because the crimes were so utterly disturbing. But I had read that it was a compassionate account of the main and central victim, Sanford Clark, and his rise from such an unspeakable ordeal. So the other day, the book came up as available in my library account (apparently lots of people in my home town have read this book) ...more
Mar 12, 2016 Trenchologist rated it really liked it
The horrors and insights are impossible to contain in a neat jot of notes in review. Eastwood had it correct that the real story here is Sanford's persistent survival: first of a terrible home life, then Northcott and the murder ranch, and finally into learning his version of flourishing after his second chance at life. Well told from a close, entrenched perspective (of Sanford's), reading this was compulsive and compelling as it was unbelievable and awful. Being long fascinated by true crime, I ...more
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Anthony’s background as a trained stage actor with over 2,000 performances under his Actors Equity membership provides the primary basis for his critically acclaimed ability to empathize with a wide cross-section of personalities. His screenwriting experience is also of great use in telling narrative stories that are visually compelling, whether for the “screen” of a reader’s imagination or the ...more
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