Man who killed up to 20 people during racist nationwide crime spree set for execution in MO

Man who killed up to 20 people during racist nationwide crime spree set for execution in MO

No one knows exactly how many atrocities Joseph Paul Franklin committed as he crossed the country more than three decades ago, fueled by hatred of blacks and Jews. Along the way he bombed a synagogue, robbed banks, shot and wounded a porn icon — and killed, by his own account, nearly two dozen people.

Even among the hard-core criminals on Missouri’s death row, Franklin is perhaps the most notorious, a cunning killer who picked out victims at random, using marksman skills to murder and maim from a hidden spot in a vacant building, a grassy field and a highway overpass.

“All of his acts were kind of cowardly,” said St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch, whose prosecution sent Franklin to death row. “He just hid in the weeds and shot people.”

Franklin, 63, is scheduled to be put to death at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, the first execution in nearly three years in Missouri and the first in the state to use a single drug, pentobarbital. His attorney, Jennifer Herndon, said he is a paranoid schizophrenic who was badly abused as a child. She has asked federal and state courts and Gov. Jay Nixon to intervene. So far, all have declined.

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