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AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.The twisted tale behind Compton’s discovery brought actors Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and Clint Eastwood to San Dimas last week. Jolie, Pitt and Eastwood were in town to film a movie about Walter Collins, a young boy who was kidnapped outside a Los Angeles movie theater and killed on a chicken ranch in Riverside County in the spring of 1928. Collins’ kidnapping was national news. Investigators speculated about his fate and the coverage inspired a runaway from Illinois to attempt passing himself off as the missing boy in hopes of launching a movie career. An LAPD officer, so intent on getting credit for solving the case, tried to convince Collins’ mother that the imposter was in fact her son Walter. Even though she had her doubts, Walter’s mother took the runaway home “to try him out.” When she returned the boy, officials locked her up in psychiatric ward for a time. Ultimately, the boy confessed to being a fake and Collins was released. In early July 1928, a farmer named Lon Compton discovered the headless body of a young Latino boy lying in one of his fields just off Valley Boulevard in La Puente. Neither Compton nor Los Angeles County sheriff’s homicide Capt. Bill Bright had any idea the body might be connected to something larger. The captain speculated that the “dead Mexican” might have been run over by a train, according to some published reports. In fact, the find was connected to something larger and more sinister than either could imagine. That same day, a teenager named Sanford Clark, who was in LAPD custody for an immigration violation, was telling police how his grandmother and uncle had kidnapped four young boys and killed them. The uncle and grandmother were identified as Gordon and Louise Northcott. Gordon’s father, Cyrus, told detectives that the story was probably true. “I knew of the killings but never saw them,” he told police. “My wife would go to any extreme, not excepting murder, to please her son.” One of the murder victims was Collins; another, the still-unidentified Latino. The last two were brothers Louis and Nelson Winslow of Pomona. Clark said Gordon Northcott kept his victims locked in a chicken coop on the ranch in what is now Mira Loma in Riverside County. “He kept them there tied up for a long time and hurt them often,” Clark told investigators at the time. “And then he killed them one at a time with an ax.” Police checked out Clark’s story and found two shallow graves on the farm. They also found a book on airplanes that one of the Winslow boys had checked out from the Pomona Library the night he was kidnapped. There was no sign of Walter Collins. They didn’t find the Northcotts either. Mother and son had fled to their native Canada. Ultimately the pair was captured in Alberta and returned to the United States. Gordon Northcott went on trial for three murders in Riverside County in January 1929 and was hanged in San Quentin in 1930. Louise Northcott confessed to killing Collins. Her written confession was matter- of-fact in tone and substance: “I hearby confess that I murdered that certain boy named Walter Collins at our ranch in Riverside County.” Weeks after making the confession, Louise Northcott recanted from her cell at San Quentin. She thought it would end the case against her son. It didn’t end Christine Collins’ search for the truth. I don’t know the whole script, but my bet is that Jolie is playing Walter’s mom in “The Changling.” I wonder if the movie will end the way it did for Christine Collins. Northcott requested she come to visit him at San Quentin in the hours before he was executed. He promised to tell her what happened to Walter. Northcott reneged on the promise. With Christine Collins in the viewing gallery, 22-year-old Gordon Northcott was led to the gallows whimpering and blindfolded. His last words as the black hood and noose were put over his head were “don’t, don’t.” Christine Collins spent the rest of her life searching for the truth about her son Walter. No one ever reported what Collins’ last words were, nor the Winslow boys, nor that of the boy found in the La Puente field. One can only imagine. [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2717 Frank Girardot is the city editor of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. Visit his blog at www.insidesocal.com/sgvcrime160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!