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Execution Date Set for Infamous Racist Serial Killer

By Bill Morlin on August 15, 2013 - 3:47 pm, Posted in Anti-Black, Anti-Semitic, Extremist Crime

After 33 years in prison, Joseph Paul Franklin, one of the most notorious and prolific racist serial killers of modern times, now has a date with the executioner.

The Missouri State Supreme Court yesterday ordered that Franklin be executed by lethal injection on Nov. 20, almost 36 years after he murdered Gerald Gordon outside a synagogue following an Oct. 8, 1977, bar mitzvah.

Franklin, 63, is to be executed for the Gordon killing. But he has been convicted of a total of eight racially motivated murders in Ohio, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin and Missouri between 1977 and 1980, and confessed to or was implicated in 13 additional racial murders. He also confessed to the 1978 attempted murder of Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt and his lawyer, saying he was infuriated by an interracial porn shoot in Flynt’s publication, but was never tried in that case. He was acquitted of the 1980 attempted murder of Urban League President Vernon Jordan Jr., a black civil rights activist.

Franklin has said he was attempting to start a race war by targeting victims who were Jewish, African-American or involved in interracial romantic relationships. Although he didn’t use the term, his crimes were what other racists would come to call acts of Phineas Priests, based on a Bible story describing Phineas’ killing of a man and a woman of different tribes who were having sex. Many white supremacists see this story as proof that God approves of murdering “race-mixers.”

The late William Pierce, founder of the neo-Nazi National Alliance, attempted to immortalize Franklin’s racist killing spree by dedicating to him the 1989 novel, Hunter, which Pierce authored under the pseudonym Andrew MacDonald. The book depicted a man, Oscar Yeager (an Anglicization of Jäger, German for hunter), who hunted down and murdered interracial couples and government officials.

Despite that dedication and his infamy in the national press at the time, Franklin’s murderous acts seem largely forgotten by today’s organized racists. It’s rare to find references to him or his attacks in contemporary racist literature.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, who earlier filed a motion asking the court to set the execution dates for Franklin and another man, said he was pleased the state’s request was granted, the Kansas City Star reported. “The death penalty remains a legal punishment in our state,” Koster said in a prepared statement. “By setting these execution dates, the court has taken an important step to see that justice is finally done for the victims and their families.”

The Gerald Gordon murder took place in Richmond Heights, Mo. After a day of careful planning, Franklin armed himself with a Remington 700 hunting rifle and hid in tall grass behind a telephone pole outside the Brith Shalom synagogue. From his sniper’s nest, he fired five shots, killing Gordon and wounding Steven Goldman and William Ash. Franklin escaped and went on to kill others.

Eventually, he was captured and tried. In February 1997, a Missouri jury convicted Franklin of the murder 20 years earlier of Gordon and sentenced him to death by lethal injection.

Born James Clayton Vaughn Jr. in Mobile, Ala., on April 13, 1950, Franklin joined the American Nazi Party, which was formed in 1959, as a teenager. In 1976, just a year before embarking on his murderous rampage, he changed his name to Joseph Paul Franklin, taking “Joseph Paul” from Adolf Hitler’s minister of propaganda, Joseph Paul Goebbels, and “Franklin” from American icon Benjamin Franklin.

Pierce, who for many years until his 2002 death was America’s most important neo-Nazi leader, admired Franklin greatly, and said as much in the first pages of Hunter: “Dedicated to Joseph Paul Franklin, the Lone Hunter, who saw his duty as a White man and did what a responsible son of his race must do, to the best of his ability and without regard for the personal consequences.”

  • http://None Lakeisha Woods

    I would love to attend his execution being as my grandmother died less than six month after he killed my uncle Leo Thomas Watkins in indianapolis Indiana in the year of 1980 as he was exterminating with my grandfather whom has since passed away.

  • Erika

    rey, its definitely a possible explanation for why America has so many religious loonies compared to the rest of the western world and the subborn retention of the death penalty is merely one symptom of overall nuttiness present in this country.

  • Paul

    I’m completely against the death penalty. But I’m damned if I’m going to hit the streets in protest to save this P.O.S.

  • Reynardine

    In fact, here is a link to a table of countries that have abolished, partly abolished, de facto abolished, and functionally retained the death penalty:

    As you can see, many European countries did not do so until the eighties or the nineties.

  • Kiwiwriter

    “Jimmy said,

    on August 18th, 2013 at 11:28 am

    Where are all the liberal anti-death penalty people on this one? Amusing how hypocritical they are to routinely oppose the death penalty except when a guy like Franklin comes along and then they cheer….Hypocrites!”

    Well, Jimmy, you obviously came here to troll and not to add to the discussion, because if you had read the discussion, you would see what several of us have said in opposition to the death penalty.

    But reading comprehension is not the hallmark of the “master race,” and neither is intelligent discourse. You just came here to beat up a convenient straw man, and impress your pals back at “Stormfront.”

    So off with you, then. D-minus. Try again.

  • Reynardine

    I don’t disagree with you on any of that, Erika, but to say the United States has a unique penchant for the death penalty because it has been a repository for especially mean religious cranks cast out of Europe is a mischaracterization. Mainstream religions, as you noted, became opposed to the death penalty only within the last century, and the death penalty abolished elsewhere in half that time, or less.

  • aadila

    If you look at the people who go into hate groups of one form or another, they are not always “bad” people. Sometimes they are from well off families, kids really, and the kids are rebelling…getting into hate for its shock factor like wearing a Mohawk, enjoying the music and stuff. Trying to piss people off. From the mosh pit to real fights things can turn deadly fast. Friends start to get killed in fights and the hate projected out comes back even though it didn’t actually start as real, heartfelt hate, but something different.

    By that time it can be hard to get out, because with a Swastika tattooed on your face nobody will talk to you and there are not many options. By then it’s usually a path to getting sent to a grave or to jail. At that moment I think it’s a turning point because if people want to get out and can’t because society is judging them so much it almost guarantees the outcome will be the worst possible.

    If you listen to first hand accounts of people who get out of the hate movement or out of jail there are a lot of similarities. At lot go into it not really hating, and then it turns more and more real for them. And those who get out, either after prison or a close call of some kind it’s usually because someone somewhere recognized their humanity. Someone somewhere looked past the hate and saw something good in the person. This simple respect for their humanity, despite their flaws, can be enough to expose the entire hate movement as a fraud, a lie, a bad dream. They can find a new sense of self.

    I’m not saying everyone is like that. But we have the highest prison population in the world. There are literally thousands and thousands of basically good people who made mistakes of one form or another who end up in prison being treated – as someone called for above – as harshly as possible. These good people get thrown in with the most depraved, people who may be beyond help. Unfortunately it just doesn’t seem to me like that is the only way or best way to handle crime.

    We have a great country. We could do better than this.

  • Erika

    Rey, remember that its only been recently that the Catholic Church and many Mainline Protestant Churches have opposed the death penalty. Keep in mind that until relatively recently, conditions in prisons were so horrific – and so likely to result in death – that many people actually considered execution to be more humane than execution. In some Southern States, around 1900, a 3 year sentence at hard labor was almost as likely to result in death as a death sentence. It was only as prisons got more humane that people started trying to reserve the death penalty for only a few offenders – usually black people with white victims (and they were the only people ever executed for rape or robbery) with the occasional poor white executed for killing a higher class white person thrown in for “balance.”

    and Americans should not be casting stones at other countries with regard to extrajudicial executions. How many people a year are killed by the police here? How many of those Latin American Death Squads were really working for the CIA for the benefit of American businesses? How much blood is on the hands of the United Fruit Company???

    And anyone who knows the history of the judicial system should know that our judicial system remains hopelessly tainted by racism – especially in those mostly right wing states which retain the death penalty and still execute people. And given the number of innocent people convicted of horrible crimes and jailed for decades before discovery (and the number of people freed from death row due to being innocent) there is no question that the U.S. has executed many innocent people.

    we have a judicial system operated by humans who suffer from human fraility and often suffer from long standing baises – only a fool would trust it to determine who lives and who dies. It is the height of human arrogance to believe that our justice system can make that determination with any degree of accuracy or fairness.

  • Reynardine

    Yet I would point out, Erika, that abolition of the death penalty in Europe is recent. If Norway did not execute Breivik, they did execute his hero, Quisling- and that was in my lifetime. France was still using the guillotine in my clear memory. The garota was not abolished in Spain until Franco died. The Soviet Union and its successor state had capital punishment into at least the 1990’s. England hanged its last murderer-a woman- in the 1950’s, and proportionately, they executed a lot more women than we ever did, something about which Americans have had the decency to be squeamish. If you want to know about the history of Latin America, look no further than “The Shock Doctrine”. Just because executions are secret and extrajudicial doesn’t make them not executions, though it does make them murder.

  • aadila

    Weelwall, you must think I feel no revulsion for this person, that I am somehow less disgusted by his acts, or that I am somehow trying to wave away anger, hatred or any other negative emotion through poetic Pollyanna expressions of goodness. You may think thoughts of violence and revenge have never entered my consciousness. Nothing could be further from the truth. You speak of the rationality of revenge but in the mind of anger there is no rational thought. If you think anger gives you power, try for a moment to calm yourself in the grip of anger and see how completely powerless it renders you to govern your own mind.

    If you had any idea what I have suffered in my life you might reflect upon how it is that we can suffer and still manage to get through life. There were times when I didn’t think I would. I don’t wish to make a big deal about my own experience because we all to one degree or another, experience violation, sorrow, mistrust, anger, hardship, injustice or whatever name you put to your hatred. All the hatred in the world will never harm the person we hate. What it will do is obliterate any possibility of ending the harm that was done to us. Being able to forgive is not the same as saying what happened is ok. It is recognizing how self destructive anger is. Being able to free yourself from anger, fear, and hatred is not a gift to who harmed us. It is a gift to yourself.

  • Erika

    aadila, i suspect that a very large percentage of the people who support the death penalty and cheer executions (especially the ones who claim to be Christians ) believe that immediate upon being executed a condemned criminal will be immediately cast into a Lake of Fire where they will be tormented by cartoon devils holding pitchforks just like it shows in those Chick Tracts.

    Or perhaps others believe that the condemned murderer will repent of his sins right before th elethal injection goes in and be immediately transported to heavan where his name is written in The Book of Life, just like in those other Chick Tracts. To that group of Christians The Lake of Fire would obviously be reserved for unpardonable sinners like women who wear pants, wear make up, go to law school, or like dancing. Obviously to that group i’m pretty much doomed ;)

    That is to say that i believe that the retention of the death penalty in this country is primarily due to the fact that the U.S. absorbed most of Europe’s religious crackpots due to religious conflicts in Europe. In fact, much of the adherrents of the most nutty brands of Christianity wound up being driven out of Europe and coming to the Americas where they primarily settled in the areas where they could practice their religion with the least interference – namely the most isolated locations. Naturally, these locations tended to be the most unihabitable areas of the new country like Applicalchia, the swampy lowlands of the Southeast, later on isolated midwestern locales like Kansas and Nebraska, and isolated locations in the western deserts and mountains like Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Montana, etc.. Naturally these areas presented lots of hardships and things like tornados, extreme heat, giant swarms of locuts, rattlesnakes, bears, rock slides, alligators, and other horrors that made people even crazier in their religion because they were basically living in places where the earth’s primary goal is to kill you. These locations being completely undesirable for settlement also assured that people becam emore and more isolated – which is to say more and more committed to the initial crazy religious ideas (generally fundamentalism (Baptists, Calvinists, or a mixture) or various charismatics including snake handlers, Pentacostals, and their modern muted form the suburban megachurch) which originally drove them from Europe i nthe first place. The crazy religions that took root in these areas made them particularly unappealling for outsiders to move in.

    Doubters, consider that almost all of Europe which has the more mainstream religions who weren’t forced to leave Europe (and most of Latin America which is also strongly influenced by mainstream Europe for that matter) has abolished the death penalty – as well as things like corporal punishment for children, prayer in schools, making teaching evolution illegal, etc – and provides much greater protection for women and gays – they also have real universal healthcare, much less crime, and strict gun control). Then look at the U.S. – the area where the more mainstream Christian groups dominated – the northeast, the upper midwest is generally anti-death penalty (and liberal). The areas where the more crazy groups went – the South, lower midwest, etc. is ultra conservative and retains the death penalty (as well as other indicators such as opposing gun control, clinging to guns like a security blanket, paranoia, supporting beating children in schools and at home, support for school prayer, opposition to teaching evolution, support for using education to indoctrinate children in fundamentalist christian values, opposition to gay rights, opposition to feminism and women’s rights, racism, sexism, mysogny, etc. all of the horrors which fundamentalist Christian extremists (and in this case, the Charismatic groups should probably be included – the main difference seems to be that Charismatics believe in speaking in toungues and that modern music and dancing for Jesus is okay while fundementalist Christians ultimately believe that all modern music and that all dancing (especially by women) is for Satan).

    Hence, it is my theory that like so many other things wrong with this country the ultimate source of our country’s insane fixation on being able to kill people is its weird history of this country as being a country whose roots are in adventurers, pirates, merchants, religious crackpots, losers, and criminals (okay the criminals mainly went to Georgia, which being from there i can assure you explains a lot). That has led part of our country (okay, primarily the southern part, parts of the midwest, and the intermontainwest – what is generally known as the red states/red America (no doubt causing a headache to the Cold War relics such as those in the John Birch Society) to develop its rather “unique” blend of merchant captialism, rugged individualism, and religious crackpottery. The death penalty is probably the most visible manifestation of this particular blend of Dementia Americana.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    “Where are all the liberal anti-death penalty people on this one? Amusing how hypocritical they are to routinely oppose the death penalty except when a guy like Franklin comes along and then they cheer….Hypocrites!”

    Moron, have you NOT been reading this thread?

  • Reynardine

    Just because I am a liberal, doesn’t mean I don’t understand that there are people better off in the earth than on it. It means I realize that, under our system, they are seldom the ones who wind up there.

  • Weelwall

    U can write as poetic as U like but there is no rational argument against the principal ‘A life for a life’.
    Any less punishment belittles the life taken as well as the rest of us.
    Why do so many petty armed thieves try to kill all witnesses?
    Because both crimes will take them to the same jail, albeit, for different periods.
    Nobody rots in a US jail and as has been pointed out even medical care is free.

  • Jimmy

    Where are all the liberal anti-death penalty people on this one? Amusing how hypocritical they are to routinely oppose the death penalty except when a guy like Franklin comes along and then they cheer….Hypocrites!

  • http://SPLC stevea

    My only problem with executing these types of people is that it takes too long. This guy is as guilty as guilty can get , yet it takes thirty years to execute him.

    Another thing: make executions PUBLIC to have a greater deterrent effect on the criminal population at large.

    I am sick unto death of the violence being perpetrated for racial motivations. It has to stop, and if somebody gets executed for such ugly, terrible crimes, then so be it.

    By the way, I am not an extremist, bleeding heart liberal. I am a left leaning moderate person who believes crime should be punished. Hospitals are for rehabilitation, prisons are for punishment. The tougher the better as far as I’m concerned.

  • William Carter

    After 33 years?

    Jusitice Delayed Is Just Denied?

    I have heard a rumor that capital punishment is “cruel and unsual punishment.

  • Byron

    The belief that it is acceptable to kill those who do wrong is what motivates people like Franklin to kill in the first place. Killing is killing. If our morality truly is superior, so too should be our justice.

  • Charles Austin

    Of course I don’t think the death penalty has been scientificlly proven to deter anything. Maybe his victims families still need some closure of some kind and if they do they should take full advantage of it. I think the state should not publicize executions very much and I certainly don’t think that in his case he should receive a pardon from the governor!

  • Terry Washington

    personally I think the wisest course of events would to be to commute Franklin’s sentence to life without parole and let him die, lonely and forgotten , in prison!

  • Kiwiwriter

    Aadila, that’s extremely powerful.

    Brock Henderson, if you’re reading this, please take note. You seem to be ruled by your hatreds. You’ll find life better if you are not.

  • aadila

    Regardless of the atrocity, no amount of hatred, vengeance, anger,or contempt will restore what was lost, repair what was broken, or heal what was harmed. The best thing we can do to make the world a little more bearable is to use whatever time we have – whether it’s ten seconds, ten years, or ten thousand lifetimes – to plant the seeds of wellbeing.

    For many this will seem to be the killer’s demise. But if we live our lives holding onto hatred we have allowed the crime to permeate every aspect of our being. By holding onto hatred we punish only ourselves, and if we live for his death, upon his death something in us dies as well.

    Some consider it weak to forgive. But it takes much greater courage to forgive than it does to fan the flames of anger, hatred, and retribution, because these are subtle reflections of our fear of being harmed. By inviting fear into our lives, we invite the suffering we might experience to already occupy our minds and the effect of this is the complete destruction of our wellbeing.

    It is possible to take a strong stand against atrocity without becoming that which we behold.

  • Sharon

    I oppose the death penalty – even for this monster – but I would be in favor of his NEVER getting out of prison.

  • Kiwiwriter

    “No One in particular said,

    on August 15th, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    Where is amnesty international protesting this state sanctioned murder? Where are the anti-death penalty liberals?”

    I have no doubt that anti-death penalty activists are indeed picketing and opposing this killing.

    And I read that Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI always sent telegrams of protest to American (and other) authorities over any act of capital punishment, regardless of who was getting the axe or rope.

    All you are trying to do is sarcastically suggest that liberals are by definition hypocrites, with “discriminating tolerance.”

    Since you’re obviously a sarcastic conservative, I’ll throw you the reverse question: why didn’t the rigth-wing supporters of the greatness of America and the American way of life take this clown aside when he began acting racist and try to turn him down a more law-abiding course?

    Why didn’t the “patriots” who claim to love this country and the rule of law who knew him personally report him and his vile conduct once he started his murder spree?

    Sarcastic snark works both ways, “No One in Particular.” I’ve seen lesser and greater minds than you grind their personal penknives.

    Do yourself a favor and quit whining.

  • Matthew Bright

    He also murdered children. Three of them, quite deliberately. That anyone would talk about him as some sort of hero is obscene.

  • Reynardine

    Had he started his career earlier, or had my marriage broken up a year later, my spouse and I could easily have been his victims.

  • aadila

    Imposing the death penalty ensures that not only the individual, but the nation who spawned him, will be considered depraved and barbaric in the eyes of the civilized world.

  • james scott


  • Erika

    while i oppose the death penalty in all circumstances, i’m not going to be lighting a candle if the state of missouri gets their way and kills this nazi loser.

    the fact that this nazi loser has been rotting away in prison unloved and forgotten for years and is only getting attention now because the state of missouri is intent on killing him shows one reason (and there are several others) why the death penalty is a bad idea.

    but lets look at another issue here – who was providing the funds for the nazi loser to run all over the country shooting people? methinks that there is one or more unindicted coconsiprators involved here.

  • JCF

    Killing Franklin will bring precisely 0 of his victims back to life. The death penalty is never the answer—far better for all to let him rot in prison.

  • Sam Molloy

    There are reasonable objections to the death penalty, such as the possibility of mistakes and the theory that it brings our judicial system down to their animalistic level. However, if there is going to be a death penalty this is an example that seems to beg for it. Looking like Hitler doesn’t help me like him, either.

  • Jim Carlson

    Dying alone and forgotten – a fitting end.

  • No One in particular

    Where is amnesty international protesting this state sanctioned murder? Where are the anti-death penalty liberals?

  • concernedcitizen

    This is a result of when stupid interprets the Bible and it leads to senseless killings…

    Now he is going to pay for those crimes with a lethal injection.

  • William Forbes

    As much as I appreciate the man being brought to justice, it pains me just the same to see him executed. We as a nation need to see the wisdom of abolishing capital punishment, which much more often falls upon people of color, and is an evil upon all who practice or condone it.

  • supersonic250

    May he and all his kind die in fear and pain like their victims did, so that justice can be served.

  • Gregory

    Why did this take so long? At this point, the state should just keep him incarcerated until he dies the lonely death of a forgotten loser.

  • Michael Parker

    Why they just now set a date to kill him. Wasn’t 30 some yrs ago okay then. If he was Black and did this crime, he would met his justice long ago.

  • Kiwiwriter

    I remember reading about this guy…I found him sickening from the start. I think he also killed a black Marine and his white girlfriend.

    I’m not a huge fan of the death penalty, because I don’t think it deters the vast bulk of criminals — drug dealers, burglars, rapists, con men, inside stock traders, corrupt politicians, and schoolyard bullies.

    It goes after people like Joseph Franklin, who are clearly not deterred by the death penalty in the first place, and actively seek glory and martyrdom as “heroes” to their sick little cause.

    At the same time, I’m not happy with the idea of people like Joseph Franklin getting life in prison, because that means that until the day they die, they get three squares a day, a bed, a blanket, a cable TV, clean clothing, and better medical care than I get — and I’m paying for it. Meanwhile, their victims lie underground and the survivors are in pain, knowing that the person who killed their loved one is probably joking with his like-minded buddies in the prison yard over some homemade pruno about their vicious crime.

    So I don’t know what to think about the death penalty.

    But a guy like Joseph Paul Franklin/James Clayton Vaughn Jr. deserves it, for the sheer cruelty and sadism of his crimes.

    This man is neither a hero nor a martyr. Nor is he crazy or mentally ill. He is a cold, vicious, sadistic racist, and I do not know what I find more frightening — Franklin or the people who have held him up as a hero and martyr.

  • Reynardine

    It is a shame that the ultimate instigators of such murders can’t face the same penalties, as Streicher did.