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Changeling -- Finding Christine Collins


Christine Collins' residences, as shown on Google Earth.

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Christine Collins' addresses in Google maps
Dick Morris, a regular Daily Mirror reader, is a skilled researcher and passed along some material on Christine I. Collins. It fills in a few details of her life but still leaves many other questions. Except for her two earliest known addresses, which were in Venice, Christine lived within a fairly restricted part of Lincoln Heights, east of downtown Los Angeles.   

Dick found her in the 1920 census, living with her husband, Conrad J., a streetcar motorman, and 1-year-old Walter at 1110 2nd Ave., Venice.

Locating this address is problematic with Google maps, which defaults to Santa Monica. And my oldest map, a 1946 Thomas Bros. Guide, is no help. Second Avenue was close to the streetcar tracks, so that location makes sense if Conrad was a motorman.

Update: This appears to be the general vicinity of the Collins home.

Christine was born about 1891 in California, according to census records, and married when she was about 25. Christine was a first-generation American; her father was born in Ireland and her mother was born in England.

Voter registration for 1920 shows Christine and Conrad living at 112 Thornton Place, Venice.

In an updated e-mail, Dick points out a Sept. 24, 1928, United Press story in the San Mateo Times saying that Christine gave a 10th birthday party for her missing son, Walter, on Sept. 23. We can infer that he was born Sept. 23, 1918.

Dick didn't find any birth record, but I'm not surprised. In searching The Times for C.J. Collins, I found an early listing of someone by that name visiting from Salt Lake City. (In the late 19th and early 20th century, newspapers published the names of people who were visiting Los Angeles and gave the names of the hotels where they were staying.)  Of course, it's unclear if this is the right C.J. Collins.

According to census records, Christine's husband, Conrad, was born in Nebraska about 1890 and his parents were born in Iowa. He appears only in the 1920 census, Dick says.

He also says he didn't find a death record on Walter, but I somewhat expected that. Because the victims' remains weren't found, they weren't formally declared dead until sometime later.

In 1928, the time period of "Changeling," Christine was living at 219 N. Ave. 23, and working as a supervisor at the phone company.

The 1930 census lists her as a roomer in the home of James C. Barton, 2614 N. Griffin Ave., still working for the phone company. (The 1929 city directory lists a James C. Barton as a chauffeur living at 1802 E. Vernon, but it's unclear if this is the same man.)

Update: Dick clarifies this is James C. Borton, who was a salesman at a furniture store. The Times published a paid obituary on a man named James C. Borton on May 1, 1938, but he's not necessarily the same person. 

In 1934, she was living at 2121 Workman St., a multi-family home built in 1907.
In 1936, she was living at 152 N. Ave. 24 and listed as a housewife.
In 1938, she was living at 551 S. Lorena.
From 1942 to 1944, she was living at 2451 Daly St.
In 1946, she was living at 2603 Griffin Ave. Clarifies earlier error.
From 1948 to 1950, she was living at 2919 N. Broadway, Apt. D.
From 1952 to 1954, she was living at 2330 Johnston St., Apt. D

There is nothing to be found of her after 1954, Dick writes.

And thanks from the Daily Mirror!


1920 Census, Venice, Los Angles California. 1110 Second Ave.
Name: Christine I Collins
Home in 1920: Venice, Los Angeles, California
Age: 29 years
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1891
Birthplace: California
Relation to Head of House: Wife
Spouse's Name: Conrad J
Father's Birth Place: Ireland
Mother's Birth Place: England
Marital Status: Married
Race: White
Sex: Female
Able to read: Yes
Able to Write: Yes
Occupation: None
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members: Name Age
Conrad J Collins 30
Christine J Collins 29
Walter C Collins 1 3/12  (Husbands Occupation, Motorman, Electric Rail Road)

1930 Census, Los Angeles, Los Angeles. 2614 N. Griffin Ave. House
owned by James C Barton.
Name: Christine I Collins
Home in 1930: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
Age: 37
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1893
Birthplace: California
Father Born: Irish Free State
Mother Born: England
Relation to Head of House: Roomer
Race: White
Occupation: Supervisor, Telephone Co.
Marital Status: M
Age at first marriage: 25

California Voter Registrations, Los Angeles County, Venice City
Precinct No. 8, 1920 (this is the only voter registration that has
her husband living with her.)
Collins, Mrs Christine, hswf, 112 Thornton Pl, R
Collins, Conrad J, mtrmn, 112 Thornton pl, R

California Voter Registrations, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City
Precinct No. 1370, 1928
Collins, Mrs Christine, 219 N Ave 23, telep spvsr, R

California Voter Registrations, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City
Precinct No. 1819 1930
Collins, Mrs Christine, 2614 N Griffin av, sprvsr R

California Voter Registrations, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City
Precinct No. 1496 1934
Collins, Mrs Christine I, 2121 Workman st, D

California Voter Registrations, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City
Precinct No. 2324 1936
Collins, Mrs Christine I, 152 N Ave 24, housewife, D

California Voter Registrations, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City
Precinct No. 862 1938
Collins, Mrs Christine I, 551 S Lorena st, housewife, T

California Voter Registrations, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City
Precinct No. 2324 1942
Collins, Mrs Christine I, 2451 Daly st, housewife, D

California Voter Registrations, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City
Precinct No. 2324 1944
Collins, Mrs Christine I, 2451 Daly st, housewife, D

California Voter Registrations, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City
Precinct No. 2888 1946
Collins, Mrs Christine I, 22603 Griffin av, housewife, D

California Voter Registrations, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City
Precinct No. 2953 1948
Collins, Christine I, 2919 N Broadway, D

California Voter Registrations, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City
Precinct No. 2953 1950
Collins, Christine I, 2919 N Broadway, D

California Voter Registrations, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City
Precinct No. 2965 1952
Collins, Christine I, 2330 Johnston st, D

California Voter Registrations, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City
Precinct No. 2965 1954
Collins, Christine I, 2330 Johnston st, D

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Comments (42)

I just watched the movie and was sick about how these little boys were killed..I never thought it was about a serial killer who killed 20 boys..I wasn't prepared for the ending. Did they ever ask the little boy who helped with the murders, if they ever caught Walter that night or if he got away..because when he first told his story, he said SOME got away...also he had to bury the boys..did he bury Walter? He would know..he picked him out of the pictures. Also a father was never in the film and no friends..she was always alone..why?

I am very happy to find out what happened to Christine Collins. I truly hate loose ends. Apparently she died on Dec. 8, 1964 at the age of 73 according to an obituary. The problem was that she was listed as Christin Collins, a misspelling. This can be linked to SS death index as Kathleen Collins, an alias she mentions using in a letter. She did this to avoid attention after the high proflie trial. No, she did not look like Angelina Jolie, but neither does anyone else. Though she may not have lead an exemplary life, she loved her child and a horrible thing happened to her, and that is qute all we need to know. Everyone has a story, and her'sis way better than most. A way underrated movie.

After looking over some of Mrs. Collins letters to the warden of Folsom Prison she clearly states that Walter J. Collins was her husband. She referes to her son as Walter Jr.. Also Walter Sr. was known to use different names while trying to avoid arrest, thus Conrad could have been him just hiding out.
Her letter is dated 8/28/32.

i think they didnt put the killers grandmother in the movie cuz it would resemble the movie psycho too much. We have to keep in mind that in the end this is a movie wanting to win awards and if its like a movie from the past it doesnt make so special to win an award you know?

but i wanna know if they ever asked gordon what his motive was like i know he was mental but did he ever say anything about the boys he killed??

does anyone know where christine collins nee dunne went to college or school? being a manager for the phone company she must have had a decent education. Thanks!

In the movie, "Changeling," did anyone else notice how Northcott put something in the back of the detective's car who was going to pick up Northcott's nephew at the ranch? The movie never referenced that again. Very strange...

Does anyone know the annswers to the following:

1. Did Gorden S. Northcott have a lawyer at his Los Angeles Trial?

2.. Did the lawyer raise the Insantiy Defense?

I have recently watched this movie and I am horrified by this tragedy. I was wondering if anyone knew where I could read correct information on this case.

There are many questions that everyone has after watching this story. Has anyone examined the remains today for DNA? Also searching the area where this all took place, I was thinking just like NG they should have looked on the grounds more. Has anyone looked since then? I'm sure things have changed in that area but curious on how it looks now.

I bought this movie because I was adopted and felt I would relate although I thought it was going to be sappy. I have watched it at least 2 times each day since I bought it 3 days ago. This movie was not only interesting and intriguing as many of you have put, but for me it has touched my soul. You see I was adopted at age 6 and all my life I have casually wondered about where I came from and who my real parents are but after seeing this movie, my new perspective is that I never considered how my maternal mother has felt this whole time. Ive been selfish in my thinking. For all I know instead of wondering what happened to me and why she gave me up, it never occurred to me that I could have been taken away, either by corrupt child services for my state or some other means beyond her control. After seeing this movie, I now understand what others have with their birth mother. Its that fire between a mother and her child which can never be put out by nothing or no one except God, if its within his plan. Its like an invisible force field that binds them together and always is there and will never go away and though I have never felt it before,.. I do now. I just want to send her a letter and let her know that I'm ok, I'm loved and have a good job and not to worry and that I'm sorry for being so selfish all these years by wondering what happened to me and why I was given up instead of trying to find her and giving her peace. If I could say anything to her right now, I would tell her I dont care what the circumstances were, Im ok, and wish her health but more than wealth, I wish her love. I love you Mom, where ever and who ever you are.

Her husband died in prison of liver disease. He died in the early 30's.
here is a link to some letters that have return addresses of Christina Collins. There is such a street, but I cant find the house, if u

don't understand in the movie she was asked out by the one man and she accepted, but how could that be true if she was married
Posted by: emma | February 21, 2009 at 06:29 PM


She was asked out in the movie in 1935. The date is flashed on the screen - February 27, 1935 - Oscar night. Perhaps you missed it. She became a widow in 1932.

i just watched the movie and all i have to say is what a mom that is what you call a mothers love

One web site has Christine Collins death in LaFayette Ca. 1996, B movie news has her death listed for 1935 which was 14 years after her son disappeared, another site stated that she had renewed her law suit against Captain J.J Jones in Jan. 1941. So when did she really pass away? And if there were any remains of unindentified bodies, could they do dna now to determine if any of them were the son of Christine Collins

Hi, please someone tell me if she had more babies? That would bring some joy to my heart. Poor woman.

A little confusion here. The movie mentions Christine Collins and her boy living at 210 N. Ave 23. in 1928. In the letters Christine Collins handwrote to the prison board she indicates she lived at 217 N. Ave 23. in the same period. Now, Mr. Dick Morris has her living at 219 N. Ave 23. in the same period.

I know that there are condos and a freeway wall in that vicinity on Ave 23 today.

Which one is her correct address from March 1928 to August 1928?


this is one of the saddest tales that i have ever read or watched a film adaptation about.
even after all the odds were against it...she still had hope that walter could be still alive.
personally after reading and doing various reserch....sadly i think that he was already dead, perhaps within the next few days after being snatched by Northcott.
if he was still alive, i am sure that he would have found a way of getting in touch with his mother, so as not to worry her any more.
and if not then, he would have grown up and got some adult sense, and would know that his mother was still looking for him, and he would have come forward. this is why i think that Walter was sadly already dead.
my heart will always go out to this brave lady.
one day i hope to visit l angelis, and i want to find her grave. so please could someone furnish me with her interment where abouts. i would be very grateful.
i have watched Changeling lots of times, and it always leaves me wondering, and with a big lump in my throat.
thankyou for your indulgence.
please keep me informed.



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