Clint Eastwood's new film 'Changeling' likened to Maddie McCann case

A mother leaves her child while she goes out - and returns to an empty house. No, not the McCann case but the true story behind a gripping new film.

By Glenys Roberts
Last updated at 11:14 PM on 07th November 2008

She was a devoted mother, hard-working, determined and tough. Then, one spring morning, Christine Collins kissed her little child goodbye (leaving him under the eye of neighbours), before returning in the evening to an empty house. Her beloved son had vanished without a trace.

A continent-wide hunt was launched and a shocked nation was kept agog by a string of leads - only for their hopes to be cruelly dashed as each clue led to a dead end.

The child was never seen again, the mother was heartbroken and the community was left divided by suspicion and mistrust.

It could be the tragic story of Kate and Gerry McCann and their three-year-old daughter, Madeleine, who was abducted last year while on holiday in Portugal, and who remains missing to this day. But, in fact, it is the plot of Clint Eastwood's latest film, Changeling, which opens in Britain later this month.

Starring Angelina Jolie as the distraught mother, it is a chilling portrait of how bungling authorities persecuted a grieving mother and treated her with cynical contempt.

It is all the more powerful because it is based on a horrific true story.
The so-called 'Wineville chicken coop murders' took place on the outskirts of Los Angeles in 1928.

And while they happened 80 years before Maddie McCann disappeared, there are startling parallels between the two.

The McCanns' grim experience in Praia de Luz - and how they were made suspects by bungling local police - was widely reported.

But Christine Collins suffered even worse treatment at the hands of the LA Police Department. As the investigation into her missing child failed to yield results, she was even locked up in a mental asylum.

Her story begins during the Prohibition era, in the stretch of land south of LA, where the desert slowly turns into farming country.

There, in the small town of Wineville, the single mother was raising her nine-year-old son, Walter. At the time, her husband was in prison for running a speakeasy.

Despite the hard times, Christine was lucky enough to have a job as a supervisor with the local phone company. But it meant that she was often away from home and had to rely on the neighbours to look out for young Walter.

All went well until one Saturday morning, when she decided to work an extra shift. She gave Walter some money to see the latest cinema release, and set off for work.

Christine Collins never saw her son again. When she returned home that night, Walter was missing - and she reacted just like Madeleine McCann's mother.

Complete article can be found here: Daily Mail