The Christine Collins letters
The woman whose tragedy inspired the Clint Eastwood movie "Changeling" tells her story in her own words.
Los Angeles, Calif.
Oct. 2, 1925
Mr. Thomas M. Gannon
206 State Capitol
Your letter of Sept. 29, 1925, received this afternoon and I am very sorry that you misunderstood me regarding that money. I did not mean it as a compensation or in a business way but just to show my appreciation for your kindness of heart. Please understand Mr. Gannon that I was very unaware of Mr. Collins' previous offenses and I was really surprised as well as greatly disappointed to know that he had served two terms before.
His record here shows he had served six years in 1910. I met and married him in 1917 so consequently was ignorant of his record. There must have been some mistake about him serving ten years in 1910 as that would show him released in 1920. I lived with him from 1917 to 1923 and our boy was born in 1918.
Mr. Gannon, he certainly lived straight during the years I lived with him and I wouldn't want a better provider and husband. In 1920 his mother took sick, in fact she had been an invalid ever since I knew her and reverses came one after another.
I have known nothing but worry and reverses since I work hard every day up to eight o'clock at night trying to make an existence for my boy and myself and I find it very trying.
I am sure if Mr. Collins were given just one more chance to make good he would not fail or disappoint us. I am asking leniency for the sake of our boy who calls for his father continually.
I know your efforts are voluntarily offered and know it would be contrary to your principle to accept any money but please understand Mr. Gannon that I meant it as personal appreciation and not as compensation in the least.
Isn't there any chance of Mr. Collins getting a parole before 1928, Mr. Gannon? I would do all in my power to help him see the finer things in life and I know he will strive to better himself.
Hoping leniency will be shown him for the sake of his little son and our aching hearts
Mrs. W. J. Collins
217 N. Ave. 23
Mr. Collins was convicted on circumstantial evidence and stood no show against the L.A. Corporation, as I understand, whose men were paid to testify against him.
I attended the trial and there was only one witness who said he could recognize the defendant. The others were doubtful. The judge seemed very prejudiced against Mr. Collins and our lawyer after having received $75.00 cash became indifferent. Consequently our poor defendant stood no chance.
I understand a life term is from one to ten years and the sentence of forty years imposed on Mr. Collins seemed to me very unreasonable. Mr. Collins never harmed a soul in his life.
That attorney of San Francisco actually kept the money I forwarded to him for services and then neglected to perform his duty.
That is a form of robbery but he is not arrested in his act. Can nothing be done to make him return that money which he has had over six months now?
Please, Mr. Gannon, won't you see if Mr. Collins can't come home. Since there he has taken a course in civil engineering which has mastered. This shows he means well doesn't it?