The Road Out of Hell

Sanford Clark and the True Story of the Wineville Murders
Narrated by: Anthony Flacco
Length: 9 hrs and 17 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (622 ratings)

Audible membership

$14.95 a month

Free with a 30-day trial
1 audiobook of your choice.
A monthly selection of Audible Originals.
$14.95 a month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $14.95

Buy for $14.95

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

From 1926 to 1928, Gordon Stewart Northcott committed at least 20 murders on a chicken ranch outside of Los Angeles. His nephew, Sanford Clark, was held captive there from the age of 13 to 15, and was the sole surviving victim of the killing spree. Here, acclaimed crime writer Anthony Flacco - using never-before-heard information from Sanford’s son, Jerry Clark - tells the real story behind the case that riveted the nation.

Forced by Northcott to take part in the murders, Sanford carried tremendous guilt all his life. Yet despite his youth and the trauma, he helped gain some justice for the dead and their families by testifying at Northcott’s trial, which led to his conviction and execution. It was a shocking story, but perhaps the most shocking part of all is the extraordinarily ordinary life Clark went on to live as a decorated WWII vet, a devoted husband of 55 years, a loving father, and a productive citizen.

In dramatizing one of the darkest cases in American crime, Flacco constructs a riveting psychological drama about how Sanford was able to detoxify himself from the evil he’d encountered, offering the ultimately redemptive story of one man’s remarkable ability to survive a nightmare and emerge intact.

©2009 Anthony Flacco (P)2014 Audible Inc.

What listeners say about The Road Out of Hell

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    370
  • 4 Stars
    165
  • 3 Stars
    56
  • 2 Stars
    15
  • 1 Stars
    16
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    343
  • 4 Stars
    128
  • 3 Stars
    56
  • 2 Stars
    18
  • 1 Stars
    17
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    367
  • 4 Stars
    134
  • 3 Stars
    37
  • 2 Stars
    15
  • 1 Stars
    9

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Heartbreaker

If you could sum up The Road Out of Hell in three words, what would they be?

Heartache, Courage, Inspiration.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Road Out of Hell?

The most memorable moment in this story for me was the prosecuting attorney Kelly breaks up when he sees the extent of damage done to Sanford at the chicken ranch. As the narrator chokes out the words, portraying the emotion of Mr. Kelly it is impossible not to feel the level of hurt emotionally and physically of young Sanford. It is equally impossible not to feel the incredible compassion of Mr. Kelly. I am grateful for the narrator recognizing the need to relay this to the listener.

What about Anthony Flacco’s performance did you like?

Mr. Flacco is of course the author of this book. As a result he understands how to convey the feelings of the individuals involved.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I did listen all in one sitting. Yes. The book is engaging, moving, horrifying and uplifting.

Any additional comments?

This is not simply a true crime novel written in a "just the facts ma'am" style. Although I find many of those interesting as well. This book is written with the focus on the victim more than a focus on the criminal. This book is not one for the squeamish. I would recommend this book but advise readers that the emotions exposed are raw.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Gripping Story of Survival

Given that this book tells the story from the perspective of Sanford Clark, you know he gets away. I kept reminding myself of this fact in the first part of the book. I was pleased to see that the book told the story of Sanford's life after the chicken farm.

The narration is very good. He really gets into character.

Caution: This book spares no details.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent, terrifying book... Made me cry.

Written with great delicacy for such a horrendous subject matter, this book tells the story with heartbreaking straightforwardness. I was reluctant to delve into this book and it sat in my wish list a long time before I plucked up the courage to give it a listen. I am glad I did. The narrator is wonderful. And the story is one of decency and love overcoming an evil so extreme it is almost unimaginable.

Book shows great insight into human psychology (not so much into those truths that transcend human experience). It does accomplish an important achievement in that it brings to mind the suffering of those who find themselves helpless in the clutches of violent, abusive individuals. Somehow it is worse when it is a child caught in such a web. Maybe because they are the most helpless and vulnerable amongst us. Be warned this book is troubling, to say the least. It may leave a scar or two.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Heartbreaking and inspirational

This is the story of Sanford Clark, a boy whose early life was a nightmare. He was cruelly mistreated by his mother and a father who turned a blind eye to the abuse, but things took an unthinkably hideous turn when his uncle took him to his remote farm. The first part of the book is hard to listen to even, I would suggest, for readers of true crime. But the second part is remarkable for the life that this man was able to build for himself, thanks to his sister, a sympathetic and enlightened official, a rehabilitation program which was way ahead of its time, his wife, and above all to his own character and determination. It is nothing short of a miracle that a child so abused could find his way back to become a devoted husband and father and a respected member of his community. I am not a fan of books with a great deal of reconstructed dialogue, but it works and it's all perfectly believable - Anthony Flacco, with Jerry Clark, has done a first class job with the original material. Flacco's narration is at times a little overdone but this is excusable given the events he is recounting. The participation of Sanford's son is heartwarming - his input tells us about the wonderful man his father was - an inspiring ending to a true horror story.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Almost didn't finish because of narrator

Any additional comments?

The story is very well written and respective of the victims. Including comparisons to today's world helps us to understand how much the world has changed and how powerless victims were to tell their story in the 1920s. Sanford was an amazing young man and even more amazing adult to overcome the horrific abuse experienced during his captivity.

The narration was too theatrical and quite distracting from the story. I nearly stopped listening after the first chapter, but glad I stayed with it as the story was written so well.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Chilling!

This book gave me the chills. It's beyond me how some people can commit such horrible acts.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Overall compelling but lost momentum at the end

This was an incredibly disturbing true crime story which at times was very difficult to listen to. In fact I had to take a break at times to deal with the terrible descriptions of abuse suffered by the narrator (the victim, Stanford Clark). But I kept going and am glad I did as the story was also a very compelling one and I really, really wanted to see justice served against the pepetrator of these horrific crimes. My only discontent with the book was that I thought it was a bit weak at the end. I would have liked it to focus more on the trial. I must put in a mention of the narrator of this audiobook, Anthony Flacco, who does an amazing job of portraying the twisted and depraved personage of Clark's Uncle. I would encourage listeners to look up photographs from this true crime case as they will definately add depth to the characters portayed in this book, as well as the settings and courtroom drama.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Couldn't Stop Listening.

What made the experience of listening to The Road Out of Hell the most enjoyable?

I had mixed emotions about this but ultimately I found it a very satisfying listen. I'm a fan of true crime, a well written and good narration of the story is a bonus.
This was a compelling story of tragedy and resilience. At times Flacco's descriptions of the places and characters is lacking. There could have been more detail's to the little things about the characters and scene settings that draw the reader in deep, but I loved his narration. His animation kept me listening.

Would you be willing to try another book from Anthony Flacco and Jerry Clark ? Why or why not?

Yes. I spend long hours driving a truck and any driver knows that those 10 hours can sometimes feel like 20 hours.....a good book is worth the investment.

What about Anthony Flacco’s performance did you like?

His enthusiasm for the story. Characters were believable and I felt emotions, both empathy and disgust, for the range of goodness and evil that exists in this true story.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Evil has blood relatives too.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Hire a professional narrator

I almost stopped listening to this book based on the HORRIBLE narration. It was manic and inappropriate to the serious content. The author has no talent for acting! It was also really hard to listen to the awful tortures Sanford Clark was subjected to as well as the children that were murdered. I fast forwarded quite a bit as it was so disgusting and traumatic.The story of redemption, however, was worth every harrowing detail and I am glad that unlike most stories of this kind we were able to hear about the "happily ever after", even though it was not always completely happy. Sandford was blessed with a loving sister and then wife and children who helped him live an amazing life despite his beginnings. If you have the stomach for it, you will be rewarded with an uplifting story of courage and redemption #tagsgiving #dark #inspirational #sweepstakes

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

WOW!

This book is pretty good, but obviously about a sad subject. Some of the sections are hard to listen to at times though.

The narrators laugh is extremely annoying and he uses it throughout the book...... LOUDLY

1 person found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for JanMarie
  • JanMarie
  • 02-23-15

Very moving

I was riveted from the beginning, brilliant. As a survivor of abuse myself from age 11 to 20 I understand the 'heaviness' and feelings of hopelessness Sanford went through. What an amazing person to get through it. A true hero.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for marie
  • marie
  • 02-03-15

fantastic

loved it from start to finish
very shocking to think it's true
highly recommend this one! !!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Kindle Customer
  • Kindle Customer
  • 05-23-20

Very interesting

Very interesting perspective of a terrible crime. A minor critique I have was that it didn't go into detail about the crimes, dates etc. and if you wanted to know that side of the story you may need to look at 'Nothing is Strange with you,' another book on the case. I am nitpicking slightly however, this is a powerful story of redemption.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Alexia
  • Alexia
  • 04-29-20

One of the best audiobooks I’ve heard

Well written, very well performed and an incredible story, it nearly had me in tears at the hardware store xo

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amazon Customer
  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-12-19

Wow ! that was a good read !

Absolutely shocking book but such a good read. The story told from the nephew's perspective drags you in like a Steven king novel , with the one difference that this is all true. Very well written in the sense that it captures Northcots personality brilliantly and gives you an insight into how terrifying it must be to live with such a monster! A warning ! You do need thick skin for this one!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Chris
  • Chris
  • 05-12-17

Incredible story

I did wonder if such a tragic story would be too hard to read but it has been written with such care and sensitivity that i need not have worried.

And the narration was brilliantly engaging.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Craig
  • Craig
  • 10-20-16

A Tough Tale of Redemption

This true story is more horrifying and heartbreaking than anything else I've ever heard but I'm glad I stuck with it. Not for the faint hearted but anyone interested in the darker side of humanity and the incredible power of the mind to overcome it needs to listen. Highly recommended.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mrs F
  • Mrs F
  • 10-07-15

Tragic , scary , perfectly narrated.

This was painful to listen to for the first half, the pain was almost palpable a I witnessed this boys humiliation, fear and hopelessness, if it weren't for the narrator who almost gently ushered and urged you to stick with it I would probably have not been able to continue listening.

It suddenly strikes you just how badly thought of in terms of regard for life children were in that era, certainly in rural and developing parts of America, doubtless to say that this boys story of abuse was not rare, just unreported. .

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Leighsil
  • Leighsil
  • 08-01-18

Compelling to the last!

One of the best stories of true crime I have ever read. The story itself is extreme, but it's so sensitively and entertainingly conveyed that it's quite digestible, and the redemption that lies beneath the horror is never too hard to discern. Amazing!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 07-09-17

Horrific and Inspiring

This book is not for the faint-hearted. The graphic details of murder and child abuse are heart breaking and horrifying but the beautiful end to the story is well worth it. Very emotionally heavy book but highly gripping and Inspiring at the same time.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Sarah
  • Sarah
  • 07-07-17

Horrifically heart felt

This is the worse story I've read of child abuse, this is pure evil. A very good book however from beginning to end

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for gaynor
  • gaynor
  • 10-08-16

one of the best true crime books i've read

once i stated listening to this story i couldn't stop it is truly one of the best true crime book i've read 5 STARS

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Elba
  • Elba
  • 01-25-16

Road Out Of Hell

I cried and cried and felt the pain that Sang felt. Truly saddening. I wanted to reach out to save him. Rest In Peace Sang.