Serial Killers Series: Article 5: Joseph Paul Franklin

Filed in Gather Writing Essential by on August 3, 2007 0 Comments

If you are wondering why we are missing E, it is because only one serial killer that I know of has the last name beginning with E. He is a nasty child predator who made baby soup. I did not have the heart to publish an article of this magnitude today, please forgive me. I hope that the next serial killer will make up for it!





 Joseph Paul Franklin









James Clayton Vaughn Jr. was born on April 13, 1950 in Mobile, Alabama. James grew up in a very abusive household. His father was an alcoholic and would sometimes leave for weeks and months returning to brutally beat his children, drink, and then leave again. But James was the child who sustained most of the beatings from the father.


In high school James would involve himself in groups such as the American Nazi Party and Ku Klux Klan (KKK). After high school, James got married in 1968 and had a daughter. His wife began to change in what she described as “night and day”. He began beating her and she would sometimes find him in the corners crying profusely about his father and was increasingly becoming mentally unstable.


His mother died in 1972 and his metal health would begin to deteriarate more and more. He left his wife, moved to Atlanta, Georgia and joined the Neo-Fascist National States Rights Party and the KKK. He made his presence known in public by humiliating inter-racial couples. In 1976, he would make his first physical move upon an interracial couple by following them into an alley and spraying mace into their faces.


In 1977 James Clayton Vaughn Jr. would change his name to Joseph Paul Franklin. Ok…bear with me for a second here while I just throw something out here. In an off subject comment, I believe in numerology. It is believed that your name holds the key to what ever your destiny is in life. This belief is not held by too many people but when I am doing numerology charts for people (yet another hobby of mine), James Clayton Vaughn would be the perfect name change example. It would take a long, long time to explain why I believe this but, to sum it up in one quick term so we can get back to the story: His murder spree did not begin until his name change.  

Back to facts now.


He changed his name to Joseph Paul because it was derived from Paul Joseph Goebbels. Franklin he chose because of Benjamin Franklin. I know it is strange but hey, just recently a man had his name legally changed to “scary guy” so the reasoning’s behind this name change, I dare not question.


Now Joseph was near blind but he was a very proficient marksman which gave him the ability to shoot at the lengths of feet that he did (100-150 feet sometimes). He also was a very organized criminal in that he planned his escape routes so well that he eluded police for years. One other reason that he remained at large was because at the very same time he began his crime spree, the police were also trying to track down the Beltway Killer who was targeting the same areas.


His first move would be when he fire bombed a synagogue in Chattanooga, Tennessee on July 29, 1977. While on the move, he would support himself by robbing banks. When he was in Madison, Wisconsin, he was robbing a bank and on the way out he Alphonse Manning (African American) and Toni Schween (Caucasian) and shot them dead as he escaped. A few months later in Richmond Heights, Missouri on October 8, 1977 he waited in the tall grass for his next victim who would be Gerald Gordon and also injuring two others.


On March 6 1977, he attempted to kill Larry Flynt, the owner of Hustler magazine. His attempt failed and while Larry Flynt survived; he was paralyzed from the waist down.


In July 1978 he would return to Chattanooga, Tennessee and with a 12 gauge rifle, he waited behind tall grass in the parking lot of Pizza Hut until he saw his intended targets Bryant Tatum (African American) and Nancy Hilton (Caucasian). Luckily, Nancy Hilton survived the wounds that she sustained.


Another year would pass before he would strike again. On July 12, 1979 he was in Doraville, Georgia where he shot Taco Bell Manager Harold McIver (African American) through a window from 150 feet away.

On August 18, 1979 he killed an African American man who was sitting in a Burger King restaurant in Falls Church, Virginia. On October 21, 1979 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, he used a rifle to kill another inter-racial couple named Jesse Taylor (African American) and Marian Bresette (Caucasian).

On December 5, 1979 he picked up a 15 year old prostitute named Mercedes Lynn Masters  in Dekalb County, Georgia and used his shotgun to end her life. He then moved on to Indianapolis in January 1980, where he would murder a 19 year old African American man with a long distance rifle Approximately a week later he would use the same rifle to kill another African American man.


On May 2, 1980 he picked up hitchhiker, Rebecca Bergstrom in Monroe County, Wisconsin and shot her. On May 29, 1980 he shot Bill Clinton (no not the President). He was an associate to Vernon Jordon Jr.

 On June 8, 1980 in Bond Hill, Cincinnati he took his riffle and waited on a bridge for an interracial couple to walk by. After waiting a while, his patients grew thin so he instead decided to shoot Donte Brown (13), and Darrel Lane (14); two African American children out for a walk.

On June 15, 1980 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania he killed another inter-racial couple named Arthur Smothers (African American) and Kathleen Mikula (Caucasian). Ten days later on June 25, 1980 in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, he took his .44 ruger pistol to kill two hitchhikers named Nancy Santomero (19) and Vicki Durian (26).

On August 20, 1980, in Salt Lake City Utah, he killed two African-American men named Ted Fields and David Martin.


In September 1980 he is finally captured by authorities by a tip from a nurse who was working at a blood bank. She recognized his tattoo from a picture she had seen and notified the police. He escaped but was recaptured in Florida.


The only real reason why these are known killings is because through interrogation, he confessed to several of them. He was tried for some of the murders, some are still pending in court, and some he was never charged with but confessed too. His convictions include 8 life terms in five different states and one death sentence.  


In 1985, he was tried and convicted of killing Alphonse Manning and Toni Schween, he was sentenced to two life terms and they died simply for being an interracial couple.


He was pled guilty to murdering Bryan Tatum and received a life sentence in Tennessee. His murder and attempted murder of Nancy Hilton was for the same reason; they were different races.


He was tried for the murder of Bill Clinton and acquitted. However, later he would confess that he killed him because he saw him with a white woman.


For the murder of the cousins Donte Brown and Darrel Lane he was tried, convicted and sentenced to two life terms in Cincinnati, Ohio.


For the murders of Ted Fields and David Martin he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to two life terms. They died because they were jogging with two white women.


For killing Gerald Gordon in Potosi, Missouri he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death by lethal injection in 1997, where he is currently on death row.


The other victims of his crimes were killed for various reasons. Some of them he explained in his confessions (and that he probably will never be tried for). Taco Bell Manager, Harold McIver was killed because he had been seen with a white woman. Mercedes Lynn Masters, the prostitute, was killed because she told him that she had black customers.


The hitchiker's, Nancy Santomero and Vicki Durian were killed because one of them had an African American boyfriend. He was not tried for this murder because someone by the name of Jacob Beard was charged in 1993 with the killings (I do not know any more about this, yet).


The rest of the victims were confessions but the details were either withheld or they are unsure of a connection.  Right after he was convicted and sentenced to death he said he had a spirit guide that came to him in a dream and directed him to waive his capital punishment appeals.


He wrote the Appellate Court and waived his rights. Currently, they are back in court trying to get the courts to allow him to have his appeals claiming that the lawyer he had at the time didn’t enter this information or respond in time to the appeals process; in short they are claiming he had a bad lawyer.


The Appeals court continues to deny him.


If you would like to stay updated on the series, please subscribe to me. My article is a combination of facts from various sources such as google, serial killer database, and the photo is owned by frances farmers revenge website.

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I am in a life-changing mode. The last few years have been very different. I have been seperated and met someone who I believe may be my soul mate. I am no longer going to settle. I looking for my chance at being happy.

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