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Voices -- Christine Collins, December 29, 1923

December 15, 2008 |  5:00 am

The Christine Collins letters

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

From the California State Archives, thanks to researcher Chris Garmire.
Los Angeles, Calif.
Dec. 29th, 1923

Mr. A.H. Wright
State Clerk,
Represa, Calif.

Dear Sir:

Christine_collins_letter_1923_122_3 I just received a lovely letter from my dear husband, Mr. Walter J. Collins, in which he stated your great kindness toward and your efforts to aid him in the time of need.

I appreciate this great consideration very much. Mr. Collins is not a criminal by any means but simply had the misfortune of meeting such a fate. He has held some very responsible positions in Los Angeles and was liked and respected by all.

The poor boy has known suffering and sorrow in his life and when our mothers passed beyond it was almost as much as he could stand.

He could not bear to owe a debt and when expenses came upon us so heavily he became discouraged and sick at heart at the turn of events. He is a wonderful man and ever since I have known him he has never done anything that I did not approve of. It seems a shame such a good fellow should meet with such a fate.

I know he is proving to you just what sort of a person he is. He is a very devoted husband and loving father and it just about breaks his heart to be away from me.

If the prison board would only give Walter a chance I am sure he would prove a worthy citizen as he has always been until this terrible prejudice condemned him. I was at his trial and only one man could say that he could identify him and even he in a doubtful nod. I was told that the jury is picked and approved by the district attorney's office so consequently Walter didn't have a fair chance in the least.

Christine_collins_letter_1923_122_4 In your kind efforts to help a good man I ask also a great favor of you, Mr. Wright, and that is will you please see if you cannot get him released on parole and relieve a wife's aching heart. I am sure your efforts will not be in vain for Walter will prove to you the good citizen that he is and erase the stain that has marked our good name. He need never come back to L.A. but I could join him in another state.

I am not very strong, Mr. Wright, and we need Walter's support. It is very hard on me to try and work out care for junior as well. Mr. Collins hasn't a soul in the world but baby and I and it is very sad to think we have to be separated. Junior is calling for his daddy all the time and I know your good people would not have the heart to separate us much longer.

Hoping you will be very successful in your attempts to aid us, I am,

Very respectfully,

Mrs. Walter J. Collins
2614 1/2 Pasadena Ave.
Los Angeles, Calif.

I wish you a very bright and happy New Year and God bless you!