California · Crime Scene Photography · Serial Killers

Wineville Chicken Coop murderer hanged

October 2, 1930
Gordon Stewart Northcott is hanged for the kidnapping, torture, murder, and dismemberment of young men and boys in what was known as The Wineville Chicken Coop Murders

Northcott, 23 at the time of his death, was accused of kidnapping, beating, molesting, and killing several young men and boys by his 13-year-old nephew Sanford Clark, who accused Northcott of molesting him as well. Clark testified Northcott disposed of the bodies around his ranch in lime pits; only one mostly-intact body was found, that if a headless Mexican boy, who had been discarded on the side of a road because Northcott “had no other place to put it.”

Northcott’s mugshot and at trial

Several missing boys from the area were never located, and mothers hoped to get a sense of closure from Northcott if the boys had become Northcott’s victims, but what little he did tell the women was contradictory, leading them no closer to the truths of their sons’ fates.

Northcott points to a murder scene with a pencil; some of the bone fragments found on the farm; a reward flyer for information on the whereabouts of the Winslow brothers

With the evidence of “51 pieces of human anatomy” and Clark’s testimony, Northcott was sentenced to death for 3 murders, for brothers Lewie and Nelson Winslow, as well as the unidentified headless victim, though his victim count could be as high as 20.

Photographs of the farm, including labels where various discoveries were made and a police sign, precursor to police tape, placed to keep people out of the crime scene

During trial Northcott’s mother made many outlandish, contradictory claims about her son including that he was the illegitimate son of an English nobleman, that he was a product of incest between her husband and their daughter, and that he had been sexually abused by his entire family.

Northcott and trial and a note by Sanford Clark

Northcott’s last words were “A prayer! Please, say a prayer for me!” Mrs. Northcott, who also had helped in the torture and murders, was given a life sentence because she was a woman, was paroled after 12 years, and died in 1944. Clark appears to have died in 1991 in Canada.

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