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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Heartache, Courage, Inspiration.
The most memorable moment in this story for me was the prosecuting attorney Kelly breaks up when he sees the extent of damage done to Sanford at the chicken ranch. As the narrator chokes out the words, portraying the emotion of Mr. Kelly it is impossible not to feel the level of hurt emotionally and physically of young Sanford. It is equally impossible not to feel the incredible compassion of Mr. Kelly. I am grateful for the narrator recognizing the need to relay this to the listener.
Mr. Flacco is of course the author of this book. As a result he understands how to convey the feelings of the individuals involved.
I did listen all in one sitting. Yes. The book is engaging, moving, horrifying and uplifting.
This is not simply a true crime novel written in a "just the facts ma'am" style. Although I find many of those interesting as well. This book is written with the focus on the victim more than a focus on the criminal. This book is not one for the squeamish. I would recommend this book but advise readers that the emotions exposed are raw.
Disturbing but enlightening.
- Jo Miller "Saint Lover"