WCHS Eyewitness News Home Charleston Eyewitness Newsroom Charleston Storm Team Weather Sports News TV Program Schedule Community Mobile: Smartphone,Tablet and SMS text Get Connected SMS Text Facebook Twitter See-It,Shoot-It RSS News Feed Email List Tumblr


Missouri Executes Serial Killer Who Claimed Responsibility For 1980 WV Rainbow Family Murders

Reported by: Send eMail Associated Press
Web Producer: Heath Harrison
Also Contributing: Heath Harrison
Reported: Nov. 20, 2013 3:17 PM EST
Updated: Nov. 20, 2013 4:02 PM EST

Missouri Department of Corrections
Missouri Department of Corrections

Bonne Terr, Mo.

White supremacist serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin has been put to death in Missouri. It was the state's first execution in nearly three years.

Franklin, 63, targeted blacks and Jews in a cross-country killing spree from 1977 to 1980. He was executed Wednesday at the state prison in Bonne Terre for killing Gerald Gordon in a sniper shooting outside a suburban St. Louis synagogue in 1977.

Franklin was convicted of seven other murders across the country and claimed responsibility for up to 20 overall, including two women killed in West Virginia. The Missouri case was the only one that brought a death sentence.

According to e-WV, Franklin claimed he was the one responsible for the murder of two hitchhikers in West Virginia in 1980.

Nancy Santomero, 19, of Long Island, New York and Vicki Durian, 26, of Wellman, Iowa were murdered on Droop Mountain in Pocahontas County while on their way to the Rainbow Family gathering in Monongahela National Forest.

Jacob Beard of Pocahontas County was convicted in the killings, but his conviction was overturned in 1999. He was acquitted of the murders after a second trial in 2000. Beard later filed a wrongful conviction suit and settled with Pocahontas County for $2 million in 2003.

Franklin claimed responsibility for the murders in a 1997 confession, though some in law enforcement challenged his account.

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.

Franklin 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 killings began.

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 in Florida.

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."

The execution was the first in Missouri using a single drug, pentobarbital.

Franklin's fate was sealed early Wednesday when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal appeals court decision overturning stays granted Tuesday.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



MORE NEWS FROM EYEWITNESS NEWS
WV Clinic Operator's Medical License Suspended
News
Jul. 25, 2014 11:10 AM EDT
The West Virginia Board of Osteopathic Medicine handed ...
Full News Story

Fletcher's Grove, Donna The Buffalo Featured Acts This Evening At Live On The Levee
News
Jul. 25, 2014 10:48 AM EDT
Two bands – a local band and one from central New York ...
Full News Story

Saints Coach Says Facilities Are "Pretty Amazing"
News
Jul. 25, 2014 10:25 AM EDT
Saints coach Sean Payton said the new training camp ...
Full News Story


News PETA Oposes Using Animals In WV Testing
Jul. 25, 2014 10:10 AM EDT
News Man Accused Of Stealing ATV, Crashing After Pursuit
Jul. 25, 2014 10:09 AM EDT
News Search Under Way For Missing Man In Roane County
Jul. 25, 2014 9:23 AM EDT
News Junior Troopers To Graduate Academy
Jul. 25, 2014 9:12 AM EDT
News Blood Drive Held In Downtown Charleston Friday
Jul. 25, 2014 8:37 AM EDT
News WV State To Hold Emergency Drill Friday
Jul. 25, 2014 8:18 AM EDT
News Man Stabbed In Charleston
Jul. 25, 2014 7:46 AM EDT
News 5 Alarm Mud Run To Benefit Fire Department
Jul. 25, 2014 7:51 AM EDT
News Autopsy Backlog Affecting Police Work
Jul. 25, 2014 9:03 AM EDT
News Huntington Council Votes To Hire New Police Officers
Jul. 24, 2014 11:28 PM EDT
News Library Levy Headed Back To Ballot
Jul. 24, 2014 11:22 PM EDT
News Kanawha Commission Files Petition To Remove Plants From Office
Jul. 25, 2014 8:49 AM EDT
News St. Albans Team Heading To Regionals
Jul. 24, 2014 10:54 PM EDT
News Vigil Held For Gaza Peace; Group Opposes Israeli Policy
Jul. 25, 2014 8:49 AM EDT
News Picnic With The Saints Set For This Weekend At The Greenbrier
Jul. 24, 2014 11:34 PM EDT
News Man Who Shot At Police Sentenced To 35 Years
Jul. 24, 2014 6:30 PM EDT
News Man Arrested For Indecent Exposure Has Ties To Local Youth Sports
Jul. 24, 2014 8:35 PM EDT
News Unhappy "Dirty Girls" File Reports With Wisconsin Better Business Bureau
Jul. 24, 2014 8:46 PM EDT
News Three Face Charges After Woman Claims She Was Robbed With Sawed-Off Shotgun
Jul. 24, 2014 6:32 PM EDT
News Case Of Woman Charged With Robbery Headed To Grand Jury
Jul. 25, 2014 8:59 AM EDT
News Kenova Police Implement Drug Task Force
Jul. 24, 2014 8:57 PM EDT
News UAW Backs Grimes In Ky. U.S. Senate Race
Jul. 24, 2014 4:56 PM EDT
News Blenko To Host Festival Of Glass Aug. 1-2
Jul. 24, 2014 4:44 PM EDT
News Salvation Army Hosts Luncheon For Volunteers
Jul. 24, 2014 4:28 PM EDT
News One Worker Killed, Two Injured In Suburban Philadelphia Hospital Shooting
Jul. 24, 2014 5:14 PM EDT
News Walkers Welcome At Charleston Distance Run
Jul. 24, 2014 4:02 PM EDT
News WV Hot Dog Festival Celebrates 10th Anniversary
Jul. 24, 2014 4:09 PM EDT
News Casey, Mooney Talk Business Policy At Forum
Jul. 24, 2014 7:04 PM EDT
News Suspect In West Side Murder Waives Preliminary Hearing
Jul. 24, 2014 6:50 PM EDT
News U.S. Issues 186 Mining Citations In June
Jul. 24, 2014 3:13 PM EDT


Advertise on WCHS-TV Online

West Virginia News
Huntington to hire additional police officers

The city of Huntington is reallocating $500,000 in its budget to hire 10 police officers to fight drug problems in neighborhoods.
Full Story

Kentucky News
Police: Man set fire to house, kills self

Middlesboro police the death of an eastern Kentucky man in a house fire was self-inflicted.
Full Story

Ohio News
Northwest Ohio mechanic killed in freak accident

A northwest Ohio auto mechanic has died after a fan blade broke off a car he was working on and struck him in the neck and face.
Full Story







Fugitive Files Tuesdays at 6 PM on Eyewitness News

West Virginia Wildlife Wednesdays at 6 PM on Eyewitness News

ABC News web site







Send Mail Send email to news@wchstv.com for information or comments concerning WCHS-TV Eyewitness News.
Copyright ©2014, WCHS-TV8. Portions are Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or distributed.

WCHS ABC 8 provides local news, weather forecasts, traffic updates, notices of events and items of interest in the community, sports and entertainment programming for Charleston and nearby towns and communities in the Tri-State area, including Huntington, Dunbar, Marmet, Montgomery, Nitro, South Charleston, St. Albans, Cedar Grove, Chesapeake, Clendenin, East Bank, Glasgow, Pratt, Cross Lanes, Elkview, Pinch, Sissonville, Big Chimney, Cabin Creek, Chelyan, Davis Creek, Institute, Jefferson, Loudendale, Mink Shoals, Pocatalico, Quick, Quincy, Rand, Buffalo, Eleanor, Hurricane, Nitro, Poca, Winfield, Culloden, Fraziers Bottom, Hometown, Red House, Scott Depot, Teays Valley, Danville, Madison, Hamlin, Logan, Chapmanville, Man, Delbarton, Kermit, Gilbert, Matewan, Williamson, Summersville, Richwood, Flatwoods, Gassaway, Sutton, Spencer, Ravenswood, Ripley, Mason, Point Pleasant, Ashland, Pikeville, Ironton, Portsmouth, Gallipolis, and Athens.