Submitted by Julio M
Reverend Briegleb (John Malkovich) forces Dr. Steele’s (Denis O’Hare) hand and Christine (Angelina Jolie), as well as many other wrongfully imprisoned women -including kindhearted prostitute Carol (Amy Ryan)-, are released from the Mental Hospital. In separate trials, the LAPD and Gordon Northcott (Jason Butler Harner) are respectively found: at fault for their corrupted actions regarding Walter Collins’ (Gattlin Griffith) disappearance; and guilty of kidnapping and murder. Northcott is sentenced to death by hanging, which happens two years later, with Christine in attendance. A few more years pass, and David Clay (Asher Axe), another boy abducted by Northcott turns up, giving a statement of how he and a few other boys -including Walter- were able to escape, which gives Christine further hope of finding her son. In the end, the case sent shockwaves through the LAPD and California State Legislature, Reverend Briegleb continued denouncing police corruption and Christine never stopped searching for Walter.
Thanks to Detective Ybarra’s (Michael Kelly) determination and the willingness of young Sanford (Eddie Alderson) to confess the heinous abductions and killings of Gordon Northcott -as well as his helping to unearth human remains at Northcott’s farm in Wineville, California-, a big breakthrough happens in the Walter Collins case, since, at this point, the boy is presumed murdered. Despite fleeing to Canada to avoid capture, Gordon is still arrested by the RCMP in Vancouver and extradited back to the United States, to stand trial.
When the discoveries in Wineville make the newspapers, much to the public shock and the chagrin of the LAPD, Reverend Briegleb forces Dr. Steele, head of the Mental Institution where Christine was being held against her will, not only to release her but also every other woman who had suffered the same fate. Christine and her new friend Carol exchange looks of support as they part ways. The little boy who claimed to be “Walter” (Devon Conti) admits under interrogation that he agreed to go along with the ruse so he could “come to Hollywood and meet his favourite actor of that time, Tom Mix” and, also, that the Police goaded him to lie.
The LAPD is put under the heavy scrutiny of a hearing for incompetence and suspected corruption, which also brings around thousands of enraged protesters demanding answers. In it, SS Hahn (Geoff Pierson), the lawyer who agreed to represent Christine pro-bono, excoriates Capt. Jones (Jeffrey Donovan) and Chief Davis (Colm Feore) for their actions and pushes for them to be held accountable and removed from their positions, and, additionally, demands the extrajudicial interments be deemed illegal and stop. At the same time, meanwhile, Northcott stands trial for multiple counts of murder and abduction, eventually being found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging.
Two years later, Christine, who kept searching for Walter -despite the sentence-, is summoned by Northcott -still in jail, on death row-, the day prior to his execution, to see him and hear his confession of killing Walter. However, when they meet, he recants and maniacally denies it all, while she furiously heckles him for his cowardice. The next day, with many people in attendance, Christine included, Northcott is hanged to death.
A few more years pass. Christine is once again contacted by Ybarra, who informs her that David Clay, another victim of Northcott who was thought dead, has actually appeared alive and well. Christine and the boy’s parents (Lily Knight, Jeffrey Hutchinson) observe and hear David’s interrogation from the outside of the room. David, now presumably 12 or 13 years old, reveals that he and a few other boys were actually able to make an escape from Northcott’s ranch, one night, Walter being one of them. Moreover, David found himself momentarily stuck and at risk of getting recaptured when Nortchott caught wind of it, but, because of Walter’s brave and selfless choice of returning to help him, they both made it; sadly, as they were far away enough from the property, they all went in separate directions. He never saw, or heard of, Walter again, after that night, and does not know whether Northcott recaptured him, yet expresses gratitude for what Walter did and admits that he spent all those years in hiding out of fear but now only wants to go home. At that moment, his parents and him reacquaint, which moves Christine to tears.
In the end, Ybarra and Christine friendly bid each other farewell, with Christine confessing that, upon David’s reappearance, she has regained the hope she needed to keep searching for her son. The film ends with title cards informing that Capt. Jones was indeed suspended; Chief Davis was demoted; the Mayor refused to go for re-election, due to the scandal; California made it illegal to forcefully commit people solely based on authorities’ words; Reverend Briegleb continued using his radio show to denounce police and political corruption; Wineville changed its name to Mira Loma, to elude the notoriety brought upon by Northcott’s crimes -which came to be known as “The Wineville Chicken Coop Murders”-; and Christine Collins, until her death, convinced that her son Walter was still alive, kept looking for him.