Joseph Paul Franklin was a known racist, and on this day he was given life in prison for killing Ted Fields and David Martin, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Joseph Paul Franklin was a serial killer who gained notoriety for numerous murders in the late 1970s and early 1980s. His killing spree was the subject of a fictional novel entitled Hunter by William Luther Pierce, who described Franklin as having “saw his duty as a white man and did what a responsible son of his race must do.”
He was convicted of several murders, and received 6 life sentences, as well as the 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 repeatedly changed his accounts of some crimes, and was not charged in some cases in which he was suspected, officials cannot determine the full extent of his crimes. He was executed by lethal injection on November 20, 2013.
1977: ⏺On August 7, Franklin shot a young interracial couple, Alphonse Manning, Jr. and Toni Schwenn, in a parking lot at East Towne Mall in Madison, Wisconsin. He was convicted in 1986 on two counts of first-degree murder and received two consecutive life sentences.
⏺In the fall of 1977, in suburban St. Louis, Missouri, Franklin hid in the bushes near a synagogue and fired on a group attending services. In this incident, Franklin killed 42 year old Gerald Gordon. He also wounded Steven Goldman and William Ash.
1978: ⏺Franklin confessed that, on March 6, he used a Ruger .44 caliber semi-automatic 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.
⏺On July 29, Franklin hid near a Pizza Hut in Chattanooga, and shot and killed Bryant Tatum, a African-American 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.
1979: ⏺On July 12, Taco Bell manager Harold McIver (27), who was African-American, was fatally shot through a window from 150 yards 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.
1980: ⏺May 29, Franklin 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.
⏺On June 8, Franklin killed two African American 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.
⏺On June 25, 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 women 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 confession.
⏺On August 20, Franklin killed two African-American 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.