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Frank Athen WALLS

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Robberies
Number of victims: 5
Date of murders: 1985 - 1987
Date of birth: October 12, 1967
Victims profile: Tommie Lou Whiddon, 19 / Cynthia Sue Condra, 24 / Audrey Gygi, 47 / Edward Alger Jr., and Ann Peterson
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife - Shooting
Location: Okaloosa County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on August 24, 1988. Resentenced to death on July 29, 1992
 
 

 

Florida Supreme Court

 

Frank A. Walls v. State of Florida

 

opinion 80364

opinion SC03-633

 
 

 
 

DC #112850
DOB: 10/12/67

First Judicial Circuit, Okaloosa County, Case #87-856-A
(Venue changed to Fourteenth Judicial Circuit, Jackson County)
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable G. Robert Barron
Resentencing Judge: The Honorable G. Robert Barron
Attorney, Trial: Earl D. Loveless - Assistant Public Defender
Attorneys, Retrial: Earl D. Loveless & James C. Sewell – Assistant Public Defenders
Attorney, Direct Appeal: W.C. McLain - Assistant Public Defender 
Attorney, Direct Appeal Resentencing: W.C. McLain - Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Harry Brody, Esq. - Registry

Date of Offense: 07/22/87

Date of Sentencing: 08/24/88

Date of Resentencing: 07/29/92         

Circumstances of the Offense 

According to statements made by Frank Walls, in the early morning of 07/22/87, he entered the mobile home of Edward Alger and Ann Peterson with the intention of committing a burglary.  Walls purposefully knocked over a fan while entering the house, waking both Alger and Peterson. 

When the two came to investigate the noise, Walls told Alger to lie on the floor and had Peterson tie his hands behind his back, bind his ankles and gag him. He then told Peterson to lie on the floor so he could restrain her in the same manner. 

Alger managed to free himself from the restraints and attacked Walls.  While struggling, Walls cut Alger’s throat with a knife that he had brought with him.  Alger then bit Wall’s leg, causing him to drop his knife.  Walls then shot Alger in the head three times. 

Walls returned to where Peterson was restrained and found her crying, attempting to speak through the gag.  Walls removed the gag from her mouth and untied her. After learning Alger was dead, a struggle ensued between Walls and Peterson, during which time he tore off her clothes.  Walls then shot Peterson in the back of the head.  Peterson survived the first shot and continued to scream.  Walls forced her face into a pillow and fatally shot her again. 

The bodies were discovered later that day when Alger failed to show up for work.  Investigators obtained a warrant to search Walls’ mobile home based on information provided by Walls’ former roommate, who lived near the victims.  Investigators seized evidence from Walls’ residence linking him to the murders, which subsequently led to his arrest.

Additional Information:

Frank Walls was convicted of First-Degree Murder and Burglary/Assault for an incident that occurred on 05/19/87.  On 10/05/94, Walls was sentenced to life imprisonment for both counts. 

Walls was diagnosed with bipolar mood disorder when he was a teenager.  He was treated with lithium which he discontinued taking in adulthood.  A psychologist testified at trial that Walls’ IQ had substantially declined in the years prior to his trial and that he was impaired at the time of the murder.   

Trial Summary:

08/10/87          The defendant was indicted on the following charges:

Count I: Armed Burglary/Dwelling Later reduced to Unarmed Burglary/Dwelling
Count II: Armed Burglary/Conveyance Later dismissed
Count III: Auto Theft Later dismissed
Count IV: First-Degree Murder (Alger)
Count V: First-Degree Murder (Peterson)
Count VI: Armed Burglary/Dwelling
Count VII: Possession of Burglary Tools Later dismissed                     
Count VIII: Kidnapping (Alger)
Count IX: Kidnapping (Peterson)
Count X: Grand Theft Later reduced to Petit Theft

07/18/88          The jury found the defendant guilty on Counts I, IV, V, VI, VIII, IX, X.

07/19/88          Upon advisory sentencing, the jury recommended life imprisonment for the murder of Edward Alger and recommended the death penalty, by a 7 to 5 majority, for the murder of Ann Peterson.

08/24/88          The defendant was sentenced as follows:

Count I: Unarmed Burglary/Dwelling - 5 years
Count IV: First-Degree Murder (Alger) - Life in Prison
Count V: First-Degree Murder (Peterson) - Death
Count VI: Armed Burglary/Dwelling - 20 years
Count VIII: Kidnapping (Alger) - 20 years
Count IX: Kidnapping (Peterson) - 20 years
Count X: Petit Theft - 60 days

04/11/91          The Florida Supreme Court reversed Walls’ convictions and sentence of death and remanded for a new trial because his constitutional rights were violated during his pretrial detention.

06/18/92          At retrial, the jury found the defendant guilty as charged.

06/19/92          Upon advisory sentencing, the new jury recommended life imprisonment for the murder of Edward Alger and recommended the death penalty, by a 12 to 0 majority, for the murder of Ann Peterson.

07/29/92          The defendant was resentenced as follows:

Count I: Unarmed Burglary/Dwelling - 5 years
Count IV: First-Degree Murder (Alger) - Life in Prison
Count V: First-Degree Murder (Peterson) - Death
Count VI: Armed Burglary/Dwelling - 20 years
Count VIII: Kidnapping (Alger) - 20 years
Count IX: Kidnapping (Peterson) - 20 years
Count X: Petit Theft - 60 days

Case Information:

On 11/18/88, Frank Walls filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court.  In this appeal, he argued that his constitutional rights were violated during his pretrial detention.  Vickie Beck, a correctional officer, was asked to conduct surveillance on Walls due to his suspected involvement in other murders.  Beck befriended Walls and led him to believe that anything he told her would be confidential.  Beck also instructed Walls not to inform his lawyer of their interaction.  Beck’s observation notes were later used in evaluating Walls’ competency to stand trial.  Two expert witnesses testified that Walls was competent based on the notes provided by Beck.  Walls argued that his constitutional rights were violated as a result of Beck’s actions.  The Florida Supreme Court found that the trial court erred in allowing these illegally obtained statements to be used against Walls.  The Florida Supreme Court reversed Walls’ convictions and sentence and remanded his case for a new trial. 

Walls was again sentenced to death on 07/29/92.  Walls filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court on 08/24/92.  In this appeal, he challenged voir dire procedures and contended that his jury was kept in deliberations for exhausting hours.  Walls argued the consideration and application of aggravating and mitigating circumstances in his case.  The Florida Supreme Court found no error in Walls’ claims and affirmed his convictions and sentence of death on 07/07/94.   

On 11/25/94, the defendant filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court that was subsequently denied on 01/23/95.

Next, Walls filed a 3.850 Motion in the State Circuit Court on 03/17/97, which was denied on 01/27/03.  An appeal of that decision was filed 04/08/03.

On 04/08/03, Walls filed a 3.850 Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court.  On 02/09/06, the FSC affirmed the denial of Walls 3.850 Motion.

Walls filed another 3.850 Motion in the State Circuit Court on 06/18/03, which was dismissed as successive on 09/11/03.

On 11/06/03, Walls filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Florida Supreme Court.  The petition was denied on 02/09/06.

On 05/26/06, Walls filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the United States District Court, North District.  The petition is currently pending.

Floridacapitalcases.state.fl.us


Walls admits to three more murders

NWFDailyNews.com

October 6, 1994

Frank Athen Walls, already convicted of two 1987 slayings, pleaded no contest Wednesday to a third 1987 murder and admitted he had killed two other women as well.

Walls' five victims were slain in the Fort Walton Beach area during a grisly spree that spanned 1985-87. Walls was 17 to 19 years old at the time, making him one of the youngest serial killers on record.

In a letter of apology he wrote to one victim's family, Walls said he had suffered "uncontrollable rages'' since childhood.

Walls, now 26, has long been on death row in connection with the slayings of Edward Alger Jr. and Ann Peterson, who were killed July 22, 1987, in their Ocean City trailer. But until this week he was only a suspect in other unsolved Okaloosa County murders.

On Wednesday afternoon he pleaded no contest in court to the murder of Audrey Gygi, 47, who was stabbed May 20, 1987, in her trailer at 343 Duval St., Ocean City _ not far from Alger and Peterson's trailer.

The agreement that led to the no-contest plea called for Walls to conduct what defense lawyer Stephen Cobb described as a "substantive interview'' with sheriff's investigators. Cobb said that interview occurred Wednesday morning.

In the interview, Walls also admitted killing Tommie Lou Whiddon, 19, of Valparaiso, whose throat was cut as she sunbathed on Okaloosa Island on March 26, 1985; and Cynthia Sue Condra, 24, of Wright, who was stabbed 21 times and left beside a clay road north of Lewis Turner Boulevard on Sept. 16, 1986.

All five of Walls' victims were slain on a Tuesday or before dawn Wednesday. All except Peterson were killed with a knife. Peterson was shot; Alger was shot and slashed.

The Gygi case, once thought unsolvable, was resurrected with the advent of DNA technology capable of decisively linking samples of tissue to individuals. Tests on such a sample _ which authorities had refused to describe _ tied Walls to Gygi's murder and led to his indictment last year.

Reading the factual basis for Walls' plea and sentence into the record, prosecutor James Parker revealed Wednesday that the sample was "a semen stain located on a bed sheet.''

That disclosure, however, did not put to rest the question of whether Gygi was sexually assaulted. Parker noted that Dr. Edmund Kielman, then deputy medical examiner, had concluded she was not sexually assaulted.

Family members said they were first told by lawmen that she was raped, then told that she was not. Gygi's sister, Myrtle Blackburn of Molino, said Investigator Dennis Hailey of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement told her about the semen sample shortly after Walls' second trial for the Alger-Peterson murders.

"Hailey said Frank Walls broke in and raped her and left,'' said Gygi's brother, Al Boyd of Pensacola.

"Like any woman who had been raped, Audrey wanted to take a shower and wipe the filth and the crud off her. When she got out of the shower, he had come back and was waiting for her. He thought she'd identify him, so he killed her to shut her up.''

Hailey declined Wednesday to comment on the case.

After carefully questioning Walls on Wednesday to ensure that he was entering the no-contest plea voluntarily and understood its terms, Circuit Judge Jack Heflin sentenced him to serve a life prison term consecutive with the life term he is serving for Alger's murder. Each life sentence includes a minimum mandatory 25 years before parole can be considered.

Having been in custody since 1987 and having received credit for time served awaiting his trial for the Alger-Peterson murders, Walls has 18 years left on his sentence for Alger's murder. As a result of Wednesday's plea, he now faces at least 43 years in state prison.

Walls is under a death sentence for killing Peterson. The Florida Supreme Court upheld that sentence in July, but Walls still has avenues of appeal open through the federal court system.

Heflin sentenced Walls to a concurrent life term _ also a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence _ on a second charge listed in the indictment returned against him last year, burglary with an assault or battery while armed.

Walls won two key concessions in this week's deal: The state will not prosecute him for the murders he admitted during the interview with investigators, and the state will not seek the death penalty for Gygi's murder.

Family members, including Gygi's former husband, Phillip Gygi, objected to the plea bargain. They had hoped to speak before Wednesday's sentencing, but their views were not put on the record until after the sentence was handed down.

"She loved life; why should (Walls) be spared?'' Phillip Gygi asked Heflin.

The Gygis were married for 31 years. They were divorced 30 days before she was killed.



Frank Athen Walls

 

 

 
 
 
 
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