Monday, October 13, 2008

The Passion of Christine Collins

You don't fuck with a mother.

Everyone knows that. You don't mess with bear cubs in front of mama bear. You don't touch baby birds without losing an eye. Hell, a family friend of mine lost an arm because she accidentally stepped between a mama tapir and her babies while putting food in their habitat at the zoo where she was working. A Tapir! Don't fuck with moms.

Christine Collins was a mother. She was just the average woman living in LA in the late 1920's. Her son was Walter Collins and at the time of the fateful events in 1928, he was 9 years old. Christine went to work and came home to a different world. Her son had disappeared.

She was frantic, no doubt. There was an exhaustive search for the little boy. Task forces, search teams and newspaper articles. It was big news.

Meanwhile, Arthur Huchins, a runaway from Illinois, decided he wanted a free trip to California and posed as the missing boy. With great fanfair, he was brought to LA and shoved into Christine's arms. I guess the LAPD thought that she would just go along with it... but the difficult woman wouldn't accept this child that wasn't hers. What a bitch!

So when the mouthy, uppity broad wouldn't shut up about them bring her the wrong child, they institutionalized her. Yep. When a woman gets in your way, just call her crazy and lock her up. (witch! burn her!) ...What? Who said that?

As it turns out, over in Wineville, Ca, there was this highly unbalanced young man by the name of Godon Northcott who liked little boys. Well, he liked to kidnap, rape, torture, kill and dismember little boys, so I don't think he actually liked them... This sick bastard may have killed as many as 20 kids but I don't think we will ever truly know how many little boys suffered.

Gordon Northcott was hanged on October 2, 1930 for killing 2 brothers (age 10 and 12) and another unidentified young boy. His mother later confessed to killing Walter (most believed her son forced her to do it) and she spent the rest of her life in prison. But they never found Walter's body.

Christine never gave up hope. Years after Northcott's death, a boy he had said he had killed was found alive and well. (Gordon wasn't only a raping, kidnapping, murdering asshole, he was also a fibber.) She always hoped to find Walter. What mother wouldn't? The last info I could find about poor Ms. Collins was a court battle against JJ Jones, ex police captain in Walter's case.

In the happy corner in my head, I image how the rest of Christine's life played out. She never gave up on Walter but neither did she dwell. She got remarried to a nice man who loved her and had a little girl. She liked to garden and sew. She had grandchildren and lived in a little house LA until she passed away in her bed surrounded by her loving family. I am probably wrong but I hope I'm sort of close.

With a new movie coming out based on this story (directed by the most wonderful, Clint Eastwood) I'm sure more history will be stirred up. Check back for updates. In the meantime, I'm going to go see The Changeling.

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