Gordon Stewart Northcott is the main antagonist of the 2008 film Changeling. He is a fictionalized version of real life serial killer Gordon Northcott, who molested and murdered several young boys, mainly in the Riverside area, in the late 1920's.
He was portrayed by Jason Butler Harner.
In the film
Northcott is depicted as a mechanic and chicken farmer living in rural Riverside County, California in 1928. During this time, he was the guardian of his 15 year old nephew (cousin in the film) Sanford Clark; they were both natives of Saskatchewan, Canada. Northcott was a pedophile who probably molested Sanford. He would take Sanford through the southern California area all day every other day probably. They would kidnap boys as young as 9 years old and take them back to their chicken coop. Sanford was reluctant during the whole thing. After about 4 or 5 boys, Northcott would take them to a room and murder one boy at a time with an axe, and would even force Sanford to hit them with the axe. At one point, Gordon kidnapped 9 year old Walter Collins from Los Angeles. Walter and a couple of other boys escaped one night, and Walter's fate was unknown. Walter's mother Christine would take on the Los Angeles Police Department for their corruption and being against women's rights.
5 months after Walter Collins disappeared, Detective Lester Ybarra of Los Angeles traveled to Wineville, California for Sanford Clark, who was in California illegally. He came across Gordon, whose car was broken down on the side of the road, and asked for directions to the Northcott Ranch. Gordon, who was prepared to shoot Ybarra with the rifle in his trunk, asked why; he chose not to kill Ybarra after he explained that Sanford was in the States without a passport. Ybarra arrived at the Northcott Ranch and recovered Sanford. Later at an immigration building, Sanford asked if he could talk to Detective Ybarra. Sanford explained that his uncle Gordon kidnapped, molested, and killed several young boys; when pointing to pictures of the boys, one of them was Walter Collins.
Sanford took police back to the ranch and dug up partial remains; an APB was put out for Northcott, who took a train from Seattle back to his hometown of Saskatoon. He visited his sister and brother-in-law Winifred (Rachel in the film) and John (Bob in the film) Clark, Sanford's parents. While Gordon took a shower, his family called local police and Northcott was brought back to California. He was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging.
Northcott was hanged in 1930, but not before being asked about Walter by Christine Collins.
In real life
There are several differences between what happened in the movie and in real life. For instance:
- Northcott's parents lived in Wineville with him and Sanford, and never talked about the murders until trial.
- Walter was partially confirmed murdered by Gordon's mother, unlike the movie when a boy said he escaped.
- Jessie Clark, Sanford's sister, was the one who reported the crimes, not Sanford.