Joseph Paul Franklin

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Joseph Paul Franklin
Joseph Paul Franklin.png
Full Name: Joseph Paul Franklin
Alias: The Racist Killer
Origin: Mobile, Alabama, U.S.
Occupation: Member of the Ku Klux Klan
Hobby: Killing minorities
Goals: Start a race war (failed)
"Cleanse the world" of people he considered inferior (failed)
Crimes: Murder
Destruction of property
Hate crimes
Type of Villain: Xenophobic Serial Killer

I saw that interracial couple he had, photographed there, having sex. It just made me sick. I think whites marry with whites, blacks with blacks, Indians with Indians, Orientals with Orientals. I threw the magazine down and thought, I'm gonna kill that guy.
~ Franklin on why he shot Flynt.

Joseph Paul Franklin (April 13th, 1951 - November 20th, 2013) was a serial killer who murdered several black and Jews from 1978-1981. His motive was racism. He was a former member of both the Ku Klux Klan and the National States' Rights Party. He also attacked Larry Flynt, paralyzing him from the waist down.

Franklin was convicted of several murders and received six life sentences, as well as the death sentence. He was executed by lethal injection on November 20, 2013


James Clayton Vaughn Jr. was born in Mobile, Alabama, on April 13, 1950, the eldest son of James Clayton Vaughn Sr. and Helen Rau Vaughn, and brother to Carolyn, Marilyn and Gordon. Vaughn's father was an epileptic World War II veteran and butcher who left the family when Vaughn was aged eight. His sister Carolyn recalled, "Whenever [Vaughn Sr.] came to visit he'd beat us," and their mother had Vaughn Sr. jailed twice for public drunkenness. Vaughn's mother was described by a family friend as "a full-blooded German, a real strict, perfectionist lady. I never saw her beat any of [her children], but they told me stories." Vaughn later stated that he was rarely given enough to eat and suffered severe physical abuse as a child, and that his mother "didn't care about [him and his siblings]". He claimed that these factors stunted his emotional development, and said he had "always been least ten years or more behind other people in their maturity."

As early as high school, Vaughn developed an interest in evangelical Christianity, then in Nazism, and later held memberships in both the National Socialist White People's Party and the Ku Klux Klan. He eventually changed his name to "Joseph Paul Franklin" in honor of Paul Joseph Goebbels and Benjamin Franklin. In the 1960s, Franklin was inspired to start a race war after reading Adolf Hitler's 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 book.

Crime spree

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 Jews. His primary source of financial support appears to have come from bank robberies. Franklin supplemented his income from such criminal acts with paid blood bank donations, which eventually led to his subsequent capture by the FBI.

  • 1977
    • July 29, 1977: Franklin firebombed Beth Shalom Synagogue in Chattanooga, Tennessee, totally destroying it. Loss of life was prevented only because there were not enough worshipers that evening for a minyan and they left early.
    • August 7, 1977: Franklin shot a young interracial couple, Alphonse Manning Jr. and Toni Schwenn, in a parking lot at East Towne Mall in Madison, Wisconsin.
    • October 8, 1977: in suburban St. Louis, Missouri, Franklin hid in the bushes near Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel 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
    • March 6, 1978: Franklin claimed 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.
    • July 29, 1978: Franklin hid near a Pizza Hut in Chattanooga, Tennessee, 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.
  • 1979
    • July 12, 1979: Taco Bell manager Harold McIver, 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.
  • 1980
    • May 29, 1980: Franklin shot and seriously wounded civil rights activist and Urban League president Vernon Jordan 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 15, 1980: Franklin shot and killed Arthur Smothers (22) and Kathleen Mikula (16) with a high-powered rifle as the couple walked across the Washington Street Bridge in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Smothers was black; Mikula was white. On the day of the murder, Franklin took a concealed position on a wooded hillside overlooking downtown Johnstown and waited for potential targets to enter his line of sight. He was never arrested for these murders, but he confessed to them during a jailhouse interview after he was apprehended.
    • 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 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.
    • 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.