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

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

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by Anthony Flacco, Michael Stone, Jerry Clark
     
 

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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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for

The Road Out of Hell

“Haunting, compassionate, and terrifyingly true, Flacco delivers an unqualified masterpiece befitting of one of the greatest cases in the annals of crime.”Gregg Olsen, New York Times Bestselling author of Starvation Heights

“And you wonder: How the hell did this guy go on to be a loving father and grandfather? How did he bury all that crap? That’s a whole story in itself.” Clint Eastwood, director of Changeling, regarding Sanford Clark

“Anthony Flacco serves this one straight from the heart. Sanford Clark is an innocent victim of deliberate evil who is nearly vanquished out of existence, but once rescued, dedicates his life of quiet courage and loving decency for family.”—Dave Pelzer, author of A Child Called It and 2005 National Jefferson Award Recipient

“In a terrifying tour de force, Anthony Flacco drops the reader into California in the 1920’s and takes us on a gut-wrenching ride through a killing rampage so hellish it makes the BTK serial killer’s spree look tame. In the midst of the carnage, an innocent is forced to kill to survive and then must fight to redeem himself. Once you pick this book up, you will not be able put it down.”—Jane Velez-Mitchell, Host of CNN’s “Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell,” and author of Secrets Can Be Murder: What America’s Most Sensational Crimes Tell Us About Ourselves

“Th[is] story is one of the most horrific I know of—and I know a lot of stories. …Northcott’s crimes, which include the corruption of his nephew Sanford Clark, are certainly among the worst. Amazingly, the book not only shows us a picture of almost unimaginable evil, but also a picture of one man—Sanford Clark—who was able, beyond all expectation, to transcend the evil into which he was forced by his uncle [and] become, in the process, uncommonly good.”—Dr. Michael Stone, Host of Discovery Investigation’s “Most Evil,” Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, and Attending Psychiatrist in Forensics at MidHudson Forensic Psychiatric Hospital

Publishers Weekly
Crime novelist and true-crime writer Flacco (A Checklist for Murder) gives the reader a front-row seat in the harrowing Wineville, Calif., murders where, between 1926 and 1928, Gordon Stewart Northcott, with the aid of his nephew Sanford Clark, killed at least 20 people at a remote chicken ranch outside of Los Angeles. The unwilling accomplice Sanford was 13 when he was sent by his parents to stay with his uncle, who continually brutalized and sodomized him while killing a series of helpless boys. Flacco reconstructs the details of the grisly murders, with Northcott's dotty mother, Louise, sometimes joining the bloody mayhem. Eventually, the cops caught up with Northcott and his ritual killings, and he was hung after a sensational trial in which Sanford was the star witness. With a heartfelt epilogue by Jerry Clark, Sanford's son, this well-told tale of senseless killing, guilt and redemption of a young innocent is a page-turner. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Nov.)
Kirkus Reviews
A 1920s rape and murder spree, re-created with grisly details both real and imagined. Between 1926 and 1928, Gordon Stewart Northcott murdered at least 20 boys at a chicken ranch near Los Angeles. (The 2008 film Changeling dealt with the mother of one of his victims.) During those years, Northcott held hostage and assaulted his teenaged nephew, Sanford Clark, forcing him to assist in the killings. True-crime writer and novelist Flacco (The Hidden Man, 2008, etc.) depicts Northcott as a conscienceless monster, killing innocents he deemed inferior to demonstrate his own presumed power. He was physically repulsive as well, if the author's description of a hairy body, "more animal than human," is to be believed. Sensitive readers should take a pass on this book, given the scenes of chained, terrified children subjected to hideous sexual assault and murder. Flacco relies on court records, news accounts and his collaborator, Clark's son Jerry. He acknowledges covering gaps in the historical record with embellishments that sometimes keep the narrative chugging along, but other times bog it down. The real events are so mesmerizing, if sickening, that it seems superfluous to spend ten pages imagining Clark's thoughts as he lies imprisoned by his uncle in a boarded-up pit. Most of the book details the crimes, but Flacco ends by describing the aftermath for Clark, whose testimony against his uncle helped send Northcott to the noose. The final pages show Clark's inner strength, abetted by his loving wife and sister, taming his nightmarish memories enough to give him a decent and even admirable life. Gripping if occasionally drawn-out account of a gruesome crime wave and a victim who survived it.Author events in the Northwest and Canada. Agent: Sharlene Martin/Martin Literary Management

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781402768699
Publisher:
Union Square Press
Publication date:
11/03/2009
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.30(d)

What People are saying about this

Dave Pelzer
"Anthony Flacco serves this one straight from the heart. Sanford Clark is an innocent victim of deliberate evil who is nearly vanquished out of existence, but once rescued, dedicates his life of quiet courage and loving decency for family."--(Dave Pelzer, author of A Child Called It and 2005 National Jefferson Award Recipient)
Michael Stone
"Th[is] story is one of the most horrific I know of-and I know a lot of stories. . . . Northcott's crimes, which include the corruption of his nephew Sanford Clark, are certainly among the worst. Amazingly, the book not only shows us a picture of almost unimaginable evil, but also a picture of one man-Sanford Clark-who was able, beyond all expectation, to transcend the evil into which he was forced by his uncle [and] become, in the process, uncommonly good."--(Dr. Michael Stone, Host of Discovery Investigation's "Most Evil," Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, and Attending Psychiatrist in Forensics at MidHudson Forensic Psychiatric Hospital)
Gregg Olsen
"Haunting, compassionate, and terrifyingly true, Flacco delivers an unqualified masterpiece befitting of one of the greatest cases in the annals of crime."--(Gregg Olsen, New York Times Bestselling author of Starvation Heights)
Clint Eastwood
"And you wonder: How the hell did this guy go on to be a loving father and grandfather? How did he bury all that crap? That's a whole story in itself."--(Clint Eastwood, director of Changeling, regarding Sanford Clark)
Jane Velez-Mitchell
"In a terrifying tour de force, Anthony Flacco drops the reader into California in the 1920's and takes us on a gut-wrenching ride through a killing rampage so hellish it makes the BTK serial killer's spree look tame. In the midst of the carnage, an innocent is forced to kill to survive and then must fight to redeem himself. Once you pick this book up, you will not be able put it down."--(Jane Velez-Mitchell, Host of CNN's "Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell," and author of Secrets Can Be Murder: What America's Most Sensational Crimes Tell Us About Ourselves)

Meet the Author

Anthony Flacco was born in Oklahoma and grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado, one of four brothers. Their father was an Air Force pilot and mother was a talented artist and painter.

His 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. He moved into screenwriting when he was selected for the prestigious American Film Institute fellowship in Screenwriting. He received his MFA in screenwriting after winning AFI's Paramount Studios Fellowship Award and was then selected out of 2,000 entrants for the Walt Disney Studios Screenwriting Fellowship, where he spent a year writing for the Touchstone Pictures division. His screenwriting experience drives narrative stories that are visually compelling, whether for a movie theater or the screen of a reader's imagination.

He previous works include A Checklist for Murder, which was adapted into an NBC movie of the week, The Last Nightengale, The Hidden Man, and The Road Out Of Hell: The True Story of Sanford Clark and the Wineville Murders. Tiny Dancer, originally published in 2005, received international acclaim, being names "one of the 100 Most Noteworthy Books of 2005." It is being released for the first time in eBook format in January 2013.

He is an experienced public speaker and frequently gives seminars on crime writing, and is a featured speaker on writing for writers' conferences and clubs and serves as Editorial Consultant to Martin Literary Management in Seattle, WA.

For more information, see www.AnthonyFlacco.com.

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Road Out of Hell: Sanford Clark and the True Story of the Wineville Murders 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
grumpydan More than 1 year ago
The Wineville murders were mentioned in the film "The Changeling" and that what got me interested in learning more. Anthony Flacco's book "The Road Out of Hell: Sanford Clark and the True Story of the Wineville Murders" is an in-depth account of What Sanford Clark endured at the hands of his uncle Gordon Stewart Northcott. It is quite explicit and one must be prepared when reading this book. These murders and the treatment of Sanford are not for the faint of heart. A truly incredible non-fiction crime story.
iamwillvail More than 1 year ago
I wound up reading this book in one sitting. It is stunning! Written more in the style of a novel than a true crime paperback, it recreates the crimes of Norcott against his victims, chiefly those perpetrated against his nephew Sanford Clark, in vivid and terrifying detail.The story is not for the faint of heart. Having read a couple of books and articles about G.S.Northcott I was already aware of the crimes and resulting court case. I wish that some of that were included in this book. Even if it had been a timeline of the crimes and trials I would have found it helpful. Since this is based on and about the life and recollections of Sanford Clark I can understand why the author chose to omit Northcott's side of the story. If I have two complaints they are these: The original publication had photos included in it. The Nook version of this book does not. As an avid reader of memoir and true crime, I honestly missed the photo insert that has become so ubiquitous in crime novels. Secondly, all of the dry, turn-of-the-century references to sodomy and homosexuality as, "The most infamous of crimes against nature", or "The unspeakable act of sodomy" kept drawing me out of the narrative. If it were shared as a direct quote it was understandable, but as it often is said in the midst of the authors descriptions of the crimes committed I found it an annoyance. Just say it, don't dress it up in film-noir esque quips. All-in-all, a great read. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story of a boy who could not be destroyed and grew up to have a good life. There aren't many people who could go through what he did and come out of it still a good, decent human being.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book -- I would highly recommend it -- definitely the best true crime novel I have read...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Utterly moving! Very well written. Thank you for sharing the life of someone so decent.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The true story is so heart breaking that it keeps u turning turning the pages. Although the writer puts in much detail,... life tells u that much is missing in unspoken events. Details that only the monster and his victoms know. Be warned... keep the tissues close by, it is heart breaking. Tje imdite to such a killer should be placed inall our iives when meating a stranger. Stranger to us anyway
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Unbelievably sad story. It broke my heart.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
OMG!!! What a story--couldn't put it down!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Unbelievable story! Couldn't put it down.
acboothby More than 1 year ago
Devastating story! Highly recommend!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book in one day...I couldn't put it down!! Very well written. When I was done reading this book I looked for more books by Mr. Flacco and found another true crime book, which was also very very good!! I will definately be watching for more of his "True Crime" books!!
Kaitlyn_Ross More than 1 year ago
The Road Out of Hell is a non-fiction account of the Wineville Murders written from the perspective of Sanford Clark, the fifteen year old boy that was given to the murderous pedophile, twenty one year old Gordon Stewart Wescott, by his own (Brown's) mother. Brown was kept at the chicken ranch by Wescott during the two years of Wescott's murder spree. The story is well-written by Falco and Jerry Clark, the son of Sanford Clark. The experiences of Sanford while at the ranch are published with much detail and only the insight one could gain from experience. A true story of an evil of epic proportion, one does not leave the pages unscathed. In this writer's opinion, the story of a boy who paid a price his entire life for a debt he did not owe.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book. Very well written. Anthony Flacco tells this story in a way that it grabs you from the beginning and you won't want to put it down. It is hard for me to comprehend such an evil uncle and the horrendous things he did to this child. How he survived all this was nothing short of a miracle & the grace of God. I am looking forward to more of his books.
MartinLiteraryManagement More than 1 year ago
Anthony Flacco would like to personally thank any positive reviewers who take the time to enter a review here by sending them an autographed bookplate for The Road Out of Hell. To do so, just send him an email with your mailing address.
ClassicBookReader More than 1 year ago
This was a good read in getting the information from a personal style of understanding the pain and suffering Sanford Clark went through. The writing on this horrible subject in criminal history is done in a matter of fact and personal way. I do feel that a lot of the book was repetitive in nature and seems to linger to long in spots. Overlooking the repetitive nature, the book is very brutal in description and very educational in the department of this sick and twisted man. This serial killer used his adult hood and his sexual depravity upon children. Truly a deranged psycho that should not be forgotten. The children that perished and lived should not be forgotten. Their memories of innocence and the ultimate destruction at the hands of a beast must be remembered. The innocent victim should never be forgotten. The Clint Eastwood movie, The Changeling pushed my interest in seeking out the truths and reality of the story about the murders of these children. I was excited to find this book. This book sheds light on the subject and all its brutality. If you liked the movie and want to learn more, then this book displays the truths of the subject and the history of the ordeal. For crime buffs I recommend. For the casual reader, maybe not, because it is disturbing in many of its descriptions. I do think it's a worthy book to recommend and own and display on any persons shelf that studies or enjoys reading about criminal history. It has its flaws, but one reading, can overlook the repetitive nature.
donnasreview More than 1 year ago
Some very hard parts to read but generally was able to read it all. It is well written. Much better then any other story out there about what happened. Very detailed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best book I have ever read! I wish I could have met Stanford Clark, he is now my hero!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting book. Kept me wanting to read more
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