Category: Serial Killing
Location: United States
Date: 1977 - 1980
Crime: Franklin is best known for his confessions in the attempted murders of publisher Larry Flynt and political advisor, Vernon Jordan, and while never convicted of those shootings, he has been sentenced to death for seven murders committed throughout the United States.
Biography: Franklin was born as James Clayton Vaughn, Jr. in Mobile, Alabama on April 13, 1950. In 1976, he changed his name to Joseph Paul Franklin. As a child, his family was dirt poor and by the time he was a teenager, he became very interested in Evangelical Christianity and later Nazism and the Ku Klux Klan. Never settling down, Franklin would roam the East Coast, saying he was on a mission to 'cleanse the world' of those he considered inferior. Prior to having committed his first murder, Franklin fire-bombed a synagogue and assaulted an African American couple. Then in 1977, he began killing. He was a meticulous killer in that he organized his killing field with several escape routes and never left evidence behind. His victims were all killed by long range rifle shots. Franklin was a prodigious sharpshooter, despite being partially blind in one eye and totally blind in the other. He would select his site for the shot and then his victim would be chosen at random based on opportunity. Most of his killings were fired from distances of more than 100 feet away. Known for his supremacist views, he once threatened to kill then President Jimmy Carter. He was on the F.B.I.'s most wanted list for years but was an expert at eluding the authorities. He was finally caught when he was selling blood to the blood bank and the nurse recognized one of his tattoos that had been described in various news reports about the sniper killings. After his arrest in 1980, Franklin confessed to more than 20 murders and several bombings. He is currently serving life in prison in a Missouri penitentiary.