Joseph Paul Franklin, a white supremacist who paralyzed Larry Flynt and murdered at many as 22 people, was executed in Missouri on Wednesday morning after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal appeals court ruling.
From 1977 to 1982, Franklin went on a cross-country killing spree, targeting Jews, blacks, and anyone associated with interracial couples in attempt to start a “race war,” as he described it to CNN during his final interview. In the same interview, Franklin said he decided to try to kill Flynt after Hustler published a photo-spread showing a black man having sex with a white woman.
"I saw that interracial couple he had, photographed there, having sex," he said. "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 was convicted of seven murders but was only sentenced to death for one: the 1977 killing of Gerald Gordon at a St. Louis synagogue. From the Associated Press:
He arrived in suburban St. Louis and picked out Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel synagogue from the Yellow Pages. On Oct. 8, 1977, a bar mitzvah ended and guests were in the parking lot when Franklin opened fire from a grassy area nearby, killing Gordon, 42.
The killings continued for three more years. Franklin was finally caught after killing two young black men who were about to go jogging with two teenage white girls in Salt Lake City in August 1980.
Franklin killed Alphonse Manning and Toni Schwean because they were an interracial couple, Rebecca Bergstrom because she told him she once dated a Jamaican man, and two young black boys, 13-year-old Dante Evans and his cousin 14-year-old Darrell Lane, who Franklin stumbled upon as he was waiting with his sniper rifle for an interracial couple. Franklin told CNN that, by his count, he'd killed as many as 22 people.
Franklin was executed at 6:17 am Wednesday, according to Mike O'Connell, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Corrections. His execution was the first in Missouri in nearly three years.
[Image via AP]