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

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  769 ratings  ·  93 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,307)
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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 ...more
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.
Geri Spieler
Feb 10, 2010 Geri Spieler rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
...more
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 ...more
martha Boyle
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.
Denise Barney
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
...more
P.e.
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
Laura K
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
...more
Aquila Reale
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
...more
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 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 chance ...more
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 ...more
Heather
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 on ...more
Whitney
My review is based on the assumption that the reader is familiar with the Wineville Chicken Coop murders, Gordon Northcott, and Sanford Clark.

This story is given to us based on a conversation a grown up Sanford Clark had with his son, Jerry Clark one night when Jerry was just a boy--replaying all the horror that Gordon Northcott inflicted upon Sanford and other boys at the chicken coop as well.

The book reads as though we are in Sanford's head during his stay with his uncle Gordon at the chicken
...more
GT
Well written, and thankfully only graphic enough to convey some sense of the brutal two year period that young Sanford Clark spent with his Uncle Stewart. It was detailed enough for me. Despite the gruesome facts and depravity, I am glad I read it as I was unaware of this story that took place outside of Los Angeles about 90 years ago. Not for the faint of heart, I freely admit it overwhelmed me emotionally several times.

Even though the book goes through the aftermath of the crimes committed on
...more
Ruth
Harrowing, gripping and redemptive.
Jamie
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.
Kelly
This powerful novel was a breathtaking and almost unbelievable true story of a young boy trapped in a murderous, devil-like man’s ranch and tells of how he escapes and manages to live out the rest of his life. This book is a true page-turner. My own curiousity overwhelmed me as I read, not knowing what would happen next. The main character, Sanford, battles himself, as well as his uncle, and demonstrates the true struggle of overcoming fears and the past. I would definelty recomend this book to ...more
Jerry Smith
This book tells a horrific story indeed, although one that has a positive message too. I have not seen the movie "The Changeling" based upon the murders outlined in quite nauseating detail in this book. The point really seems to be to marvel at how Sanford Clark survived to build any sort of life after spending years forced to life under the same roof as a serial killer who controlled every aspect of his life and coerced him into committing horrendous acts himself.

The book is well written, gripp
...more
R_
More so than the book itself, the improbable story of Sanford Clark -- the hell he went through, confronted, & the admirable life he ultimately lived -- is extraordinary. I think the author did a pretty good job in telling the tale. The story might have been better told --I just think I have read better prose by other authors. But I enjoyed the book nonetheless. I'm not sure why the author (even in a footnote) failed to refer to the unbelievable story about the Walter Collins boy that was ma ...more
Kelly Houser
I’ve always been a fan of true crime. I don’t review much of it, though, because there’s simply not much to say (in my opinion). I’ll try to find something to say, though. This story is the back-drop to the Angelina Jolie movie Changeling. It is believed that Gordon Stewart Northcott murdered or was somehow connected to the murder of Walter Collins, the child that is the focus of the movie Changeling.

The Changeling connection has little to do with why I read this book. I found the story behind t
...more
Nicolas Wysocki
Like most readers, I was drawn to the story of Gordon Northcott and Sanford Clark after seeing the Clint Eastwood film Changeling, where I found myself trying to understand what motivated Northcott to purposefully murder so many young boys, because in Changeling the writers didn't dare to cover that topic in further detail, unfortunately.

In "The Road Out of Hell" we learn, in graphic detail, that Northcott's sociopathic ambitions were entirely sexually masochistic in nature. And Northcott's nep
...more
Linds
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
...more
Joy
Disturbing. I wasn't sure if I was going to read this one before I had to send it back to the library (and probably wouldn't have added it back onto my list), but I started it today. It's really sad.

True story about a boy that was kidnapped and severely abused by his murderous uncle and the effects on his life once it was over. It was very interesting and well written - adding dialogue helps. It's so sad how sick people could get away with so much by isolating themselves before telephones (much
...more
Christy
The most disturbing yet amazing story ever.

An amazing horror writer could never write a story as horrific as this real life drama. I had to put the book down several times as I felt sick to my stomach. However, I felt I owed it to Mr. Clark to finish his story. What an amazing story of how a victim becomes a hero. In the end, I think Mr. Clark became a hero like the ones from the Westerns he enjoyed reading.
Dawn
This is a true-crime book with the main character, Sanford Clark, the only surviving child of multiple murders (and an unwilling participant in them) and how he adapted, and later raised his own children and was accepted by his community.

This book has great suspense...and I began reading already aware of the historical background behind it. The author gets so firmly inside Sanford Clark's head here as the main (and real-life) character, that you feel suspense not only because of the way the tru
...more
Alisi ☆ needs to stop starting new 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.

Rikelle
I am not sure how tonrate o review this book. This is a true crime novel and the crimes are horrific so not sure I could recommend this to anyone as it is terrible. However, the true power of this book is the story of goodness of Sanford Clark. sanford was an unwilling accomplice and only survivor of his uncle's brutal serial murder rampage of perhaps 20+ boys. The crimes were so horrific the town changed their name to avoid the association. Sanford witnessed and was a victim to the worst tortur ...more
Michelle Blankenship
The story here is horrifying. I thought about Sanford Clark for days after I finished the book. The chapters about his adult life veer toward sentimentality to an extent, but nonetheless, it's remarkable that he survived and went on to lead an upstanding life in spite of the horrors that were inflicted upon him. I love it that his sons were so devoted to him and participated in the writing of the book.
Brian Walter
I've read lots of true crime novels but never before have I been some utter repulsed by the actions of a sick individual. "Uncle Stewart" was indeed the devil, and even though he ultimately payed for a few of his crimes, he can never pay an adequate price for the horror he inflicted on untold victims. All of that, however, pales in comparison to his treatment of Sanford, his Little Darling.

Johanne
This story was incredible. To be fair no matter how it had been told it would have been compelling because of the subject. Humanity destroying and creating, loving and hating. I hope that people like Sanford are not as rare as I do hope people like Stewart are. As heartbreaking as this story is, it did actually manage to prevailingly leave me with a sense of hope.
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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 sc ...more
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