Joseph Paul Franklin (April 13, 1950 Ė
November 20, 2013) was an American serial killer. He was convicted
of several murders, and given six life sentences, as well as a death
sentence. He confessed to the attempted murders of two prominent
men: the magazine publisher Larry Flynt in 1978 and Vernon Jordan,
Jr., the civil rights activist, in 1980. Both survived their
injuries, but Flynt was left permanently paralyzed from the waist
down. Franklin was not convicted in either of those cases.
Because Franklin has repeatedly changed his
accounts of some cases, officials cannot determine the full extent
of his crimes. His claims of racial motivation have been offset by a
defense expert witness who testified in 1997 that Franklin was a
paranoid schizophrenic who was not fit to stand trial.
Franklin was on death row for 15 years awaiting
execution in the state of Missouri for the 1977 murder of Gerald
Gordon. He was executed by lethal injection on November 20, 2013.
Franklin was born James Clayton Vaughn in Mobile,
Alabama, to a poor family. He suffered severe physical abuse as a
child. As early as high school, he had become interested first in
evangelical Christianity, then Nazism, and later held memberships in
both the National Socialist White People's Party and the Ku Klux
In the 1960s, Franklin was inspired to try to
start a race war after reading Adolf Hitler's political manifesto
Mein Kampf. "I've never felt that way about any other book that I
read," he would reflect later. "It was something weird about that
For much of his life, Franklin was a drifter,
roaming up and down the East Coast looking for chances to "cleanse
the world" of people he considered inferior, especially blacks and
July 25, 1977. At 3:17 AM, a trunk load of
dynamite is detonated outside the home of Jewish pro-Israel lobbyist
Morris Amitay and his family. While the home was severely damaged,
all occupants escaped except for their 6 month old beagle. Franklin
confessed to the crime years later while in prison. "The Many Trials
of a Killer," The Mobile Register October 18, 1988
July 29, 1977: Beth Sholom synagogue in
Chattanooga is firebombed. Franklin has confessed to the crime.
October 8, 1977: Franklin hid in long grass
behind a telegraph pole at Brith Shalom, a synagogue in Richmond
Heights, Missouri, and fired into a group of worshipers with a
hunting rifle, killing Gerald Gordon and injuring two others. He
confessed to this murder in 1995 and two years later was tried,
convicted and sentenced to die.
Franklin claimed that, on March 6, 1978, he used
a .44 caliber rifle to ambush Hustler publisher Larry Flynt and his
lawyer Gene Reeves in Lawrenceville, Georgia. In his confession,
Franklin said this was in retaliation for an edition of Hustler
displaying interracial sex.
July 29, 1978: Franklin hid near a Pizza Hut in
Chattanooga, and shot and killed Bryant Tatum, a black man, with a
12-gauge shotgun; he also shot Tatum's white girlfriend, Nancy
Hilton, who survived. Franklin confessed and pleaded guilty, being
given a life sentence, as well as a sentence for an unrelated armed
robbery in 1977.
July 12, 1979: Taco Bell manager Harold McIver
(27), a black man, was fatally shot through a window from 150 yards
(140 m) in Doraville, Georgia. Franklin confessed but was not tried
or sentenced for this crime. Franklin said that McIver was in close
contact with white women, so he murdered him.
May 29, 1980: Franklin said he shot and seriously
wounded civil rights activist and Urban League president Vernon
Jordan, Jr. after seeing him with a white woman in Fort Wayne,
Indiana. Franklin initially denied any part in the crime and was
acquitted, but later confessed.
June 8, 1980: Franklin confessed to killing
cousins Darrell Lane (14) and Dante Evans Brown (13) in Cincinnati,
Ohio. Waiting on an overpass to shoot a racially mixed couple, he
shot the boys instead. He was convicted in 1998 and received two
life sentences for these murders.
June 25, 1980: Franklin used a .44 Ruger pistol
to kill two hitchhikers, Nancy Santomero (19) and Vicki Durian (26),
in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. He confessed to the crime in
1997 to an Ohio assistant prosecutor in the course of investigation
in another case; he said he picked up the white girls and decided to
kill them after one said she had a black boyfriend. Jacob Beard of
Florida, was convicted and imprisoned in 1993 on these charges. He
was freed in 1999 and a new trial was ordered based on Franklin's
August 20, 1980: Franklin killed two black men,
Ted Fields and David Martin, near Liberty Park located in Salt Lake
City, Utah. He was tried on federal civil rights charges as well as
state first-degree murder charges.
Conviction and imprisonment
Franklin tried to escape during the judgment of
the 1997 Missouri trial on charges of murdering Gerald Gordon. He
was convicted of the murder charge. The psychiatrist Dorothy Otnow
Lewis, who had interviewed him at length, testified for the defense
that she believed that he was a paranoid schizophrenic and unfit to
stand trial. She noted his delusional thinking and a childhood
history of severe abuse.
In October 2013, Flynt called for clemency for
Franklin asserting "that a government that forbids killing among its
citizens should not be in the business of killing people itself."
Franklin was held on death row at the Potosi
Correctional Center near Mineral Point, Missouri. In August 2013 the
Missouri State Supreme Court announced that Franklin would be
executed later that year on November 20. Missouri Attorney General
Chris Koster said in a statement that by setting execution dates,
the state high court "has taken an important step to see that
justice is finally done for the victims and their families".
Franklin's execution was complicated as it took
place during a period when various European drug manufacturers
refused or objected on moral grounds to having their drugs used in a
lethal injection. In response Missouri announced that it would use
for Franklin's execution a new method of lethal injection, which
used a single drug provided by an unnamed compounding pharmacy.
A day before his execution, U.S. District Judge
Nanette Laughrey (Jefferson City) granted a stay of execution over
concerns raised about the new method of execution. A second stay was
granted that evening by U.S. District Judge Carol E. Jackson (St.
Louis), based on Franklinís claim that he is mentally incompetent to
be executed. An appeals court quickly overturned both stays, and the
Supreme Court subsequently rejected final appeals.
Franklin was executed at the Eastern Reception,
Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, Missouri on
November 20, 2013. The execution began at 6:07 AM CST and he was
pronounced dead at 6:17 AM CST. His execution was the first lethal
injection in Missouri to use pentobarbital alone instead of the
conventional three drug cocktail.
An Associated Press news agency journalist said
that Franklin swallowed hard as 5g of pentobarbital were
administered. It took him 10 minutes to be pronounced dead.
Racist views 'renounced'
In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
newspaper published on Monday, November 17'th 2013, Franklin said he
had renounced his racist views. He said his motivation had been
"illogical" and was partly a consequence of an abusive upbringing.
He said he had interacted with black people in prison, adding: "I
saw they were people just like us."
Representation in other media
William L. Pierce wrote a novel, Hunter (1989),
published under the pseudonym Andrew MacDonald. Pierce, founder of
the National Alliance dedicated the book to Joseph Paul Franklin.
Mel Ayton, Dark Soul of the South: The Life and
Crimes of Racist Killer Joseph Paul Franklin, Potomac Press, Inc.,
Missouri Executes Serial Killer Who Targeted Jews,
By Jim Salter - Associated Press
November 20, 2013
Joseph Paul Franklin, a white supremacist who
targeted blacks and Jews in a cross-country killing spree from 1977 to
1980, was put to death Wednesday in Missouri, the state's first
execution in nearly three years.
Franklin, 63, was executed at the state prison in
Bonne Terre for killing Gerald Gordon in a sniper shooting at a suburban
St. Louis synagogue in 1977. He was convicted of seven other murders,
but the Missouri case was the only one resulting in a death sentence.
Franklin has also admitted to shooting and wounding civil rights leader
Vernon Jordan and Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt, who has been
paralyzed from the waist down since the attack in 1978.
Mike O'Connell, a spokesman for the Missouri
Department of Corrections, said Franklin was pronounced dead at 6:17
The execution began more than six hours later than
intended, and it took just 10 minutes.
Franklin declined to make a final statement. Wearing
black rimmed glasses with long hair tucked behind his ears, he swallowed
hard as five grams of pentobarbital were administered. He breathed
heavily a couple of times then simply stopped breathing.
Guards closed the curtains to the viewing area while
medical personnel confirmed Franklin was dead.
"The cowardly and calculated shootings outside a St.
Louis-area synagogue were part of Joseph Paul Franklin's long record of
murders and other acts of extreme violence across the country, fueled by
religious and racial hate." Gov. Jay Nixon said in a statement read to
reporters by George Lombardi, director of the Department of Corrections,
after the execution.
Franklin's lawyer had launched three separate
appeals: One claiming his life should be spared because he was mentally
ill; one claiming faulty jury instruction when he was given the death
penalty; and one raising concerns about Missouri's first-ever use of the
single drug pentobarbital for the execution.
But his fate was sealed early Wednesday when the U.S.
Supreme Court upheld a federal appeals court ruling that overturned two
stays granted Tuesday evening by district court judges in Missouri.
The rulings lifting the stay were issued without
Franklin, a paranoid schizophrenic, was in his
mid-20s when he began drifting across the country. He bombed a synagogue
in Chattanooga, Tenn., in July 1977. No one was hurt, but soon, the
He arrived in the St. Louis area in October 1977 and
picked out the Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel synagogue from the Yellow
Pages. He fired five shots at the parking lot in Richmond Heights after
a bar mitzvah on Oct. 8, 1977. One struck and killed Gerald Gordon, a
42-year-old father of three.
Franklin got away. His killing spree continued
another three years.
Several of his victims were interracial couples. He
also shot and killed, among others, two black children in Cincinnati,
three female hitchhikers and a white 15-year-old prostitute, with whom
he was angry because the girl had sex with black men.
He finally stumbled after killing two young black men
in Salt Lake City in August 1980. He was arrested a month later in
Kentucky, briefly escaped, and was captured for good a month after that
Franklin was convicted of eight murders: two in
Madison, Wis., two in Cincinnati, two in Salt Lake City, one in
Chattanooga, Tenn., and the one in St. Louis County. Years later, in
federal prison, Franklin admitted to several crimes, including the St.
Louis County killing. He was sentenced to death in 1997.
In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on
Monday, Franklin insisted he no longer hates blacks or Jews. While he
was held at St. Louis County Jail, he said he interacted with blacks at
the jail, "and I saw they were people just like us."
He has made similar statements to other media but has
denied repeated interview requests from The Associated Press. Franklin's
attorney Jennifer Herndon said his reasoning exemplified his mental
illness: He told her the digits of the AP's St. Louis office phone
number added up to what he called an "unlucky number," so he refused to
(1977-1981) was a 37-year old former Klansman and neo-Nazi from Madison,
Wisconsin who believed that interracial couples were a sin against God.
He also believed that the criminal justice system was too lenient on
blacks, and he once targeted a judge he thought was too lenient.
He is thought to have bombed a synagogue in Chattanooga and was also a
suspect in the shooting of Larry Flynt presumably because interracial
couples were featured in Hustler magazine.
He was an excellent sniper, and in his travels around the country, he
shot 15 people, mostly couples consisting of a black man and a white
woman. His favorite sniping post was the rooftop of shopping malls, but
he eventually began shooting mixed-race jogging couples from any rooftop
or perch. He evaded prosecution several times because he was so mobile
and the only evidence authorities had on him was that he was in town
when the shootings happened.
A jury in Utah eventually sentenced him in 1981 to four life terms, and
other states, such as Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Indiana, Ohio, and Florida
followed suit in 1986 or considered their cases closed.
Joseph Paul Franklin
Born James Clayton Vaughn, Jr., in Mobile
Alablama, Franklin was the eldest son of an alcoholic drifter who often
abandoned his family for months or years at a stretch. Siblings remember
that James Vaughn, Sr., would celebrate infrequent homecomings by
beating his children, with James, Jr., absorbing the worst punishment.
As a youth, Franklin went in for food fads and fringe religions,
dropping out of high school after an accident left him with severely
The injury was a two-edged sword, exempting Franklin from military
conscription, and he married in 1968, at an age when many young men were
sweating out the draft lottery, fearful of the war in Vietnam. Soon
after their wedding, Franklin's bride noted a change in his personality
"like night and day." He began to beat her, emulating the
father he hated, and on other occasions she would find him inexplicably
weeping. Around the same time, their all-white neighborhood was racially
integrated, and Franklin began to veer hard right, into the realm of
The next few years were marked by ugly racial incidents and sporadic
arrests for carrying concealed weapons. Franklin was increasingly drawn
to the American Nazi Party, lapsing into the segregationist movement
full-time after mother'shis death, in 1972. Moving to Atlanta, he joined
the neo-fascist National States Rights Party, simultaneously holding
membership in the local Ku Klux Klan. Franklin began insulting
interracial couples in public, and on Labor Day 1976, he trailed one
such couple to a dead-end street in Atlanta, spraying them with chemical
Around this time, Franklin legally changed his name, shedding the last
links with his "normal" life. Federal prosecutors allege --
and jurors have agreed -- that he spent the years 1977 to 1980 wandering
across the South and Midwest, employing 18 pseudonyms, changing cars and
weapons frequently, dying his hair so often that it came close to
falling out. Along the way, he killed some thirteen persons in a
frenzied, one-man war against minorities.
According to the FBI, Franklin launched his campaign in the summer of
1977, bombing a Chattanooga synagogue on July 29. Nine days later,
investigators say, he shot and killed Alphonse Manning and Toni Schwenn,
an interracial couple, in Madison, Wisconsin. On October 8, Gerald
Gordon was killed by sniper fire as he left a bar mitzvah in the St.
Louis suburb of Richmond Heights.
Harold McIver, the black manager of a fast-food restaurant in Doraville,
Georgia, was working the night shift when a sniper took his life on July
22, 1979. Three months later, in Oklahoma City, another interracial
couple came under attack from the itinerant gunman. Jesse Taylor was hit
three times with a high-powered rifle before he expired; a single round
through the chest killed Marian Bresette as she ran to the aide of her
Franklin struck twice in Indianapolis during January
1980, killing black men with long-distance rifle fire in two separate
attacks. On May 3, he allegedly killed a young white woman, Rebecca
Bergstrom, dumping her body near Tomah, in central Wisconsin. On June 8
he surfaced in Cincinnati, bagging cousins Darrell Lane and Dante Brown
from his sniper's perch on a nearby railroad trestle. A week later, in
Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Franklin shotgunned a black couple -- Arthur
Smothers and Kathleen Mikula -- as they crossed a downtown bridge. On
August 20, joggers Ted Fields and David Martin were cut down by rifle
fire in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Arrested in Kentucky on September 25, 1980 (and recaptured a month later, after escaping
to Florida), Franklin faced a marathon series of state and federal
trials, with mixed results.
In 1982, he was acquitted of federal
civil rights charges in the May 1980 shooting that left
civil rights leader Vernon Jordan critically injured in Fort Wayne,
Indiana. Utah juries found him guilty of murder and civil rights
violations; Franklin was serving life on those counts in 1983 when he
confessed the 1978 sniping that crippled Hustler magazine publisher
Larry Flint in Gwinnett County, Georgia. (Franklin was indicted for that
crime but never tried, since he already faced stiffer penalties in other
More convictions followed: for the Chattanooga bombing;
for the double murder in Wisconsin, described
by prosecutors as "the closest thing to killing for sport";
for the murder of Gerald Gordon, killed leaving a Clayton, Missouri
synagogue in 1977 (his first death sentence); for the June 1980 double
murder in Cincinnati; for the 1978 murder of William Tatum, shot while
talking to a white woman outside a Chattanooga restaurant.
Other crimes confessed by Franklin
without further convictions include the 1980 murder of teenager Nancy
Santomero at a peace retreat in West Virginia; the 1980 murders of an
interracial couple in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; the 1980 murders of an
interracial couplein Johnstown, Ohio; an the separate 1979 murders of a
white woman and a black man in Decatur, Georgia. Overall, investigators
believe Franklin is responsible for at least 18 murders and five
nonfatal shootings in 11 states, plus two bombings and 16 bank
Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of
Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans
Ohio v. Joseph Paul Franklin
Franklin gets two more life
By Aldina Vazao - CourtTV.com
October 22, 1999
Ralph Winkler sentenced serial killer and alleged white supremacist
Joseph Paul Franklin to two consecutive life sentences for the 1980
Cincinnati murder of two black teenagers. Franklin said he would
appeal within 30 days.
On October 21, the jury convicted Franklin of
gunning down 14-year old Darrell Lane and 13-year old Dante Evans
Brown. Franklin said he killed the boys because they were black.
Immediately after Winkler sentenced him, Franklin
said, "You might as well--all the other judges have." Franklin is
linked to twenty other racially-motivated murders in 11 states and
has racked up at least six other life sentences, as well as one
death sentence in Missouri.
Franklin repeatedly taunted the judge. In
response to one outburst, Winkler responded, "I'm looking at the
face of evil. You're basically a Hannibal Lecter, but with a rifle."
Lecter was the serial killer in the movie, Silence of the Lambs.
Winkler also disagreed with Franklin's assessment
that he should get credit for confessing to the killings. "I helped
these people [the prosecution] out...I didn't have to do it," said
Franklin. Winkler also expressed disgust at Franklin's attitude
throughout the proceedings. The first thing he heard Franklin do in
court, said Winkler, was whine. Franklin had accused the county
deputies of preying on him and making homosexual advances. Winkler
said those and other charges were unfounded. "If there is such a
thing as a motion to whine, you would have filed it," the judge said.
Franklin served as co-counsel and presented no
case. Co-counsel Dale Schmidt submitted a pre-trial motion to
suppress a recording of Franklin's detailed confession to assistant
prosecutor Michelle Powers. The judge's denial of that motion will
be the basis of Franklin's appeal, said Schmidt. Franklin will argue
that Powers led him on in order to get a confession.
While no family members spoke at the hearing,
written victim impact statements were submitted by Lane's sister and
Brown's mother. Winkler called their words "heart wrenching."
Winkler also said that justice would be better
served if the death penalty could be applied in Franklin's case.
Although the death penalty is currently legal in Ohio, it was not at
the time of the killings and therefore can not be applied.
Franklin received a stay of execution from
Missouri in order to stand trial in Ohio. Lead prosecutor Joseph
Deters asked the judge to order Franklin back to Missouri as soon as
Franklin found guilty
By Beth Karas - CourtTV.com
October 20, 1999
CINCINNATI, Ohio, Oct. 20 (Court TV) -- Before the trial of Joseph
Paul Franklin began, the jury went to the crime scene, so that
members could see for themselves the place where cousins Darrell
Lane and Dante Brown were murdered 18 years ago.
Jurors visited the motel parking lot where the
cousins walked through to reach Reading Road. They saw the railroad
trestle over the road and the convenience store where the boys
headed to buy candy. They viewed the spot on the trestle where
Franklin allegedly stood and fired his rifle at the boys. Finally,
they were shown the spot where Lane and Brown went down from the
In opening statements, Prosecutor Joseph Deters
passionately recounted the alleged events of June 1980.
Lane and Brown, born one year apart to the day,
were spending the weekend with their grandmother. One night at 11:30
p.m., while their grandmother was sleeping, the boys snuck out to
buy some candy. They invited Linda Lane, Darrell's big sister, but
Shortly after, there was a loud noise which awoke
the grandmother. When she discovered the boys had broken her "no
going out after dark rule" she quickly went to find them. Linda
followed moments later.
Linda described what they saw as a "scene of
unspeakable horror." Her 13-year-old brother Darrell was dead. Her
14-year-old cousin Dante was mortally wounded and still clutching
the $1 bill he saved for candy.
Deters also described the protracted police
investigation. He recounted how the murder weapon was traced back to
Franklin through a newspaper advertisement, after the suspect
apparently tried to get rid of it. He also spoke of similar
shootings that were traced back to Franklin through his license
But authorities had no witnesses and no
confession. Eventually the investigation grew cold. For the next 18
years, Deter told the jury, Franklin was charged with several
racially-motivated killings, finally ending up on Missouri's death
Deters ended by telling the jury about Franklin's
April 10, 1997 confession to prosecutor Melissa Powers. He allegedly
told Powers his goal was to cleanse the world by killing blacks.
Compiled from a
chronology prepared by the Cincinnati Police Department
August 7, 1977 Madison, Wisconsin
and killed a male black and a female white after an altercation in a
shopping mall parking lot. Both shot with a handgun.
Franklin admitted to these homicides February 17, 1984. He was tried,
found guilty and given two life sentences in 1985.
October 8, 1977 Richmond Heights, Missouri
and killed a male white and wounded two others as they were leaving a
Shooting was with a 30.06 Remington rifle which was left at the scene.
shots were fired from a grassy area at the top of the synagogue parking
lot. Sniper type shooting.
Franklin admitted this offense and was tried, convicted and sentenced to
death by lethal injection.
March 6, 1978 Gwinette County, Georgia
and wounded Hustler publisher Larry Flynt and his lawyer Gene Reaves.
Shooting was sniper style. Shot with a .44 caliber rifle. Flynt was shot
twice and Reaves once, both survived.
Franklin was indicted but never tried.
Franklin has since admitted to these shootings.
July 29, 1978 Chattanooga, Tennessee
and killed a male black and wounded a female white companion. Shooting
was with a 12 gauge pump shotgun.
Shooting occurred in a Pizza Hut parking lot. Both victims were shot
once with a 12 gauge pump shotgun. The shooting was sniper style from
tall grass off the parking lot.
Franklin admitted this offense after contacting investigators from jail
and confessed. He was indicted and pled guilty on the eve of his trial
Franklin was sentenced to two life sentences, one for the murder and one
for an unrelated armed robbery offence that occurred in 1977.
July 12, 1979 Doraville, Georgia
and killed a male black manager of Taco Bell. Shooting was sniper style
from an area off the rear parking lot.
Weapon used was a 30.30 savage rifle. Victim shot twice.
Franklin admitted this offense to Assistant District Attorney on March
Franklin has been indicted for this murder, but has not been tried.
December 5, 1979 Dekalb County, Georgia
and killed a 15 year old female white prostitute Mercedes Master.
with a shotgun at close range.
Franklin picked this victim up hitchhiking, and actually lived with her
for sometime before the murder.
Franklin has admitted this offense to Assistant District Attorney on
March 26, 1998.
Franklin has been indicted for murder, but has not been tried.
August 18, 1979 Falls Church, Virginia
and killed a 27 year old male black who was seated in a Burger King
Sniper type shooting. Victim shot with a 30.30 rifle.
Detective met with Franklin at his request on March 10, 1997.
Franklin confessed to this murder on videotape.
October 21, 1979 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
and killed a male black and a female white in a shopping center parking
Shooting was sniper style from a distance of 100 yards away. The male
subject was struck 3 times and the female subject once. Five shots were
fired and four took affect.
weapon used was 30.06 rifle.
Franklin has been indicted for these murders, but Oklahoma has not
sought to extradite him for trial.
January 11, 1980 Indianapolis, Indiana
and killed a male black 19 years old who was standing in front of a
Churchís Fried Chicken window.
shot was fired sniper style, striking the victim once in the chest, the
shot was fired from a distance of approximately 150 yards away.
weapon used was a 30 caliber rifle.
Franklin has admitted to this offense and has been indicted, but Indiana
has not sought to extradite him for trial.
January 16, 1980 Indianapolis, Indiana
and killed a male black standing in front of a fast food convenient
store with his father.
Sniper type shooting one shot to the chest of the victim.
Weapon used was the same weapon used in the January 11th
shooting a .30 caliber rifle.
was fired from a distance of approximately 150 yards through a plate
Franklin has been indicted for two counts of aggravated murder and is
June 15, 1980 Johnstown, Pennsylvania
and killed a male black and a female white walking down the street.
Sniper type shooting from a wooded area near a railroad overpass.
victim shot once the female was shot twice with .35 caliber rifle.
Franklin was seen driving a dark green Chevy Nova at the time of the
Franklin has admitted these homicides on April 13, 1997 and has been
indicted, but the state of Pennsylvania will not extradite him.
June 25, 1980 Pocahontas County, West Virginia
Picked up two female white hitchhikers and drove to a wooded area of a
park where he shot and killed them.
Murders are known as "the Rainbow Murders" locally.
Weapon used was a .44 caliber handgun.
Franklin confessed to these murders on March 1, 1984.
However there was another person charged with these offenses, and
subsequently convicted (Jacob Beard).
August 20, 1980 Salt Lake City, Utah
and killed two male black joggers as they were leaving a park with two
victims were shot multiple times, seven shots total fired.
Sniper type shooting from a distance of approximately 40 yards.
Weapon used was a 30.30 Marlin lever action rifle
Franklinís car was observed leaving the scene a 1975 brown over brown
Chevy Camaro KY license BDC678.
Franklin was charged indicted and tried both by the state on murder
charges and federally on civil rights violations.
was convicted and received two life sentences. Franklin has since
admitted to these offenses on at least two occasions.
number of murders Franklin has been charged with or admitted to date
(June 98): 20
number of seriously wounded Franklin has admitted to or been indicted
for to date (June 98): 6
number of bank robberies Franklin has admitted to or been indicted for
to date (June 98): 16
number of bombings Franklin has been indicted for or admitted to date
(June 98): 2
State of Missouri v.
Joseph P. Franklin
969 S.W.2d 743 (Mo.banc 1998)
Case Facts: In September of 1977, believing that Jews were "enemies
of the white race," Franklin drove to Dallas, Texas after robbing a
bank in Little Rock, Arkansas. In Dallas, Franklin bought a 30-06
rifle with a telescopic sight. He then drove to St. Louis, Missouri,
checked into a hotel, scouted the city for synagogues, and finally
chose Brith Shalom Kneseth Israel Congregation in Richmond Heights.
To prepare for the crime, Franklin bought some ten-inch nails, a
guitar case and a bicycle. He tested the bicycle to assure himself
that is could be used to enable him to leave the scene of the crime.
He drove the nails into a telephone pole to serve as a rifle rest.
Later, he ground the serial number off the rifle. He then cleaned
the rifle, ammunition and guitar case of any fingerprints and,
thereafter, he used gloves to handle the equipment. Lastly, he put
the rifle into the guitar case and hid them both in some bushes near
On October 8, 1977, Franklin waited
outside the synagogue for people to emerge. Shortly before 1:00
p.m., some of the guests left the synagogue and walked toward their
cars. Franklin began firing on the guests. He fired five shots from
approximately one hundred yards. Gerald Gordon was shot in the left
side of his chest and later died from blood loss resulting from
damage to his lung, stomach, spleen, and other internal organs.
Steven Goldman was grazed on the shoulder. William Ash was wounded
in the left hand and later lost his small finger on that hand.
Having fired all his ammunition, Franklin abandoned the rifle and
the guitar case. He then rode his bicycle to a nearby parking lot
where his automobile was parked, hid the bicycle in some bushes and
left St. Louis by car.