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Voices -- Christine Collins, May 3, 1929

From the California State Archives

The Christine Collins letters

The woman whose tragedy inspired the Clint Eastwood movie "Changeling" tells her story in her own words.

San Gabriel, Calif.
May 3, 1929

Mr. A Eichoff
San Francisco, Calif.

Dear Sir:

1929_0503_christine_collins02_01 I am writing to you in regard to my husband, Walter J. Collins # 12824 imprisoned at Reprisa, Calif. I would like to make you a personal call and explain matters definitely but I am unable to on account of financial circumstances as well as ill health.

Mr. Collins was convicted of robbery on circumstantial evidence in 1923. I was forced to work to support our boy and myself in spite of my very nervous condition. On March 10, 1928, our poor boy disappeared and has not [illegible] Stewart Northcott on his Wineville ranch.

I am sick and grief-stricken over our son's disappearance. In August 1928 a boy was found in the east who posed as our boy and because I would not accept him as our son I was treated most inhumanly, called a lair, damn fool, crook and almost everything by the police here and finally throw into the psychopathic ward of the General Hospital among the maniacs for five days and nights.

The stigma of being in the insane ward caused me to lose my position that I had held for over five years, consequently I am without means of support.

Mr. Collins (#12824) is to appear for hearing before the board of directors soon and I wish Mr. Eichoff that you will give this your kind consideration. The poor man is not deserving of the terrible sentence meted out to him when he was sentenced. The judge was told to give Mr. Collins the limit because he would not plead guilty to one count of robbery and so Mr. Collins was charged with several which was not fair. And to make matters worse the counts were made to run consecutively instead of concurrently.

1929_0503_christine_collins03_01 Mr. Collins has taken up a course in civil engineering during his incarceration and I am sure he will be qualified to fill a very good position if released, which I hope that he will be thru your kind consideration.

I am under a doctor's care and have been for some time due to a terrible nervous strain.

Hoping you will decide favorably for a release for Mr. Collins so as he may come home to take care of me. I ask this in the name of humanity and sincerely hope you will grant me this request.

Thanking you for your time, which I know is valuable and hoping for a favorable reply, I am

Very sincerely.

Mrs. Walter J. Collins
811 E. Park St.
San Gabriel, Calif.

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Comments (2)

Wow. This really gives an intimate view of the multiple strains Christine was under. And helps to imagine what it must of been like to be a single mother back then. She had it rough.

i watched the changling a couple of days ago and can not get walter jr. out of my mind or my heart.

now i see this and i am further saddened by our countries lack of ability to consider the children. i feel as though this lack of compassion shown has become 'our way', the way of 'we the people.'

it seems the L.A. Police department has been sorely lacking honor for a very long time.


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