The Christine Collins letters
The woman whose tragedy inspired the Clint Eastwood movie "Changeling" tells her story in her own words.
Los Angeles, Calif.
July 1, 1927
Warden Court Smith
I am taking the privilege of writing to you in behalf of my dear husband and I sincerely hope you will not think it an imposition on your great kindness to me.
As you already know we are really in need of Mr. Collins' support as I am not at all well and I find it very hard trying to support our son and myself.
Mr. Collins is a very good man and the mistake he made caused a great deal of suffering for me as well as our boy. Personally, I do not feel that Mr. Collins was given a fair trial and to my estimation the judge was very much prejudiced.
The lawyer we had I found out later was a member of the National Guard here as was the head of the corporation who condemned Mr. Collins. Mr Smith, poor Mr. Collins has known nothing but misfortune since I have known him and I think the poor fellow is to be pitied and I am so sorry that he was convicted on circumstantial evidence.
I attended his trial and not a witness could feel sure he identified Mr. Collins as the man who committed the robbery and our lawyer turned traitor at the time we needed him most.
After the trial he (the lawyer) said to me, "Now what do you think of the verdict?"
I said "I still do not think Mr. Collins guilty."
It seems a shame a good man should waste his life in prison when he has a family who need him so much. I am sincere and really need Mr. Collins support, Mr. Smith.
I would be the happiest woman in the world if my dear husband could come home to us. Is there any possible chance of a parole for him if we never come to L.A. again? He is all we have in this world and we would be so happy if he could come back to us again.
You are very kind and I will never forget the kidness you have shown me in regard to the action of Mr. Spagnoli.
His promise to you is like his promise to me. As yet I haven't seen a penny of the money he promised to pay me. You can readily see how [illegible] he ever was and how crooked he is.
Mr. Collins always was so good to us. Our son asks for him all the time and is at the age now where he needs his father.
Mr. Smith, please do not think I am [illegible] but I wish you would grant me a great favor and give Mr. Collins a release so as he may take care of us.
My health is failing and I feel I will not be able to work out much longer. Won't you please parole my husband and make my burdens lighter?
For our son's and my sake, I ask this great favor and I know you will not refuse me.
Thanking you again for your great kindness, I am.
Mrs. Walter J. Collins
217 N. Ave. 23