April 13, 1950
Serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin is born
Franklin murdered between 8 and 20 people from 1977 to 1980, as well as shooting and seriously wounding more. One of his surviving victims was Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt who was left paralyzed from the waist down.
Franklin believed his murders were helping to “cleanse the world” by ridding it of those he deemed inferior, specifically black and Jewish people or interracial couples. When he confessed to the attempted murder of Larry Flynt, he claimed his motivation was due to Hustler magazine featuring interracial sex. Another prominent man Franklin attempted to kill was civil rights activist Vernon Jordan Jr. who was shot after Franklin saw Jordan with a white woman.
Police detained Franklin in Kentucky after his final two murders in Salt Lake City, Utah on August 20, 1980. Though he managed to flee during his interrogation, police were able to search his vehicle and gain evidence against him. Franklin had distinctive, racist tattoos and was known to often sell blood at blood banks to make money. Blood banks nationwide were alerted to Franklin and his tattoos which resulted in a blood bank worker recognizing him in Florida. The FBI was contacted and Franklin was arrested on October 28, 1980.
Convicted of eight murders, Franklin was sentenced to life sentences in multiple states and one death sentence in Missouri. The month preceding his execution, victim Larry Flynt pleaded on Franklin’s behalf for clemency, stating “a government that forbids killing among its citizens should not be in the business of killing people itself.” In a newspaper interview published 3 days before his execution, Franklin renounced his racist views, calling them “illogical” and blaming an abusive childhood. He was executed by lethal injection on November 20, 2013.