Gordon Stewart Northcott

Classification: Serial killer

Characteristics: Homosexual sadist - Kidnapping - Dismemberment

Number of victims: 3 - 20

Date of murders: 1928

Date of birth: 1908

Victims profile: An unidentified Mexican boy / Lewis, 12, and Nelson Winslow, 10

Method of murder: Beating with an axe - Shooting

Location: Riverside, California, USA

Status: Executed by hanging on October 2, 1930

Canadian born in 1908, Northcott would later claim that his father sodomized him at age ten.

The old man finished his life in a lunatic asylum, and one of Northcott’s paternal uncles died years later, in San Quentin, while serving a life term for murder.

A homosexual sadist in the mold of Dean Corll and John Gacy, by age 21, Northcott was living on a poultry ranch near Riverside, California, sharing quarters with his mother and a 15-year-old nephew, Sanford Clark.

For years, Northcott mixed business with pleasure in Riverside, abducting boys and hiding them out on his ranch, renting his victims to wealthy Southern California pedophiles.

When he tired of the boys, they were shot or brained with an ax, their flesh dissolved with quick lime and their bones transported to the desert for disposal. Only one was ever found - a headless, teenage Mexican, discovered near La Puente during February 1928 - but homicide detectives identified three other victims.

Walter Collins disappeared from home on March 10, 1928, and Northcott’s mother was convicted of his death, but evidence suggests that she was acting under orders from her son.

Twelve-year-old Lewis Winslow and his brother Nelson, 10, vanished from Pomona on May 16, 1928, and Northcott was later condemned for their murders, despite the absence of bodies. Gordon might have gone on raping and killing indefinitely, but in the summer of 1928, he visited the district attorney’s office, complaining about a neighbor’s “profane and violent” behavior. The outbursts reportedly upset his nephew, who was “training for the priesthood” by tending chickens at age 15. Under investigation, the neighbor recalled seeing Gordon beat Clark on occasion, and he urged detectives to “find out what goes on” at Northcott’s ranch.

Immigration officials struck first, taking Clark into custody on a complaint from his Canadian parents, and the boy regaled authorities with tales of murder, pointing out newly-excavated “grave sites” on the ranch. Detectives dug up blood-soaked earth, unearthing human ankle bones and fingers on September 17.

They also found a bloodstained ax and hatchet on the premises, that Clark said had been used on human prey, as well as chickens. Northcott fled to Canada, but he was captured there and extradited back to Riverside. His mother claimed responsibility for slaying Walter Collins, but Clark fingered Gordon as the actual killer.

Convicted on three counts of murder, including the Winslow brothers and the anonymous Mexican, Northcott was sentenced to death. Spared by her sex, his mother received a life sentence in the Collins case.

Marking time at San Quentin, Northcott alternated between protestations of innocence and detailed confessions to the murder of “18 or 19, maybe 20” victims. A pathological liar who cherished the spotlight, he several times offered to point out remains of more victims, always reneging at the last moment. (Northcott also named several of his wealthy “customers” at the ranch, but their identities were never published.) Warden Duffy recalled his conversations with Northcott as “a lurid account of mass murder, sodomy, oral copulation, and torture so vivid it made my flesh creep.”

Northcott mounted the gallows on October 2, 1930, finally quailing in the face of death. Before the trap was sprung, he screamed, “A prayer! Please, say a prayer for me!” His mother subsequently died in prison, of old age.




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