colleen's Reviews > The Road Out of Hell: Sanford Clark and the True Story of the Wineville Murders

The Road Out of Hell by Anthony Flacco
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Nov 16, 09

bookshelves: 2009, act, nonfiction, arc, reviewed
Read in November, 2009, read count: 1

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.

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11/03/2009 page 39
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