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The Life and Crimes of Racist Killer Joseph Paul Franklin

by Mel Ayton

Pub Date: May 31st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59797-543-8
Publisher: Potomac Books

Biography of a racist, anti-Semitic murderer who assumed the name Joseph Paul Franklin.

It is uncertain how many members of the Jewish faith, how many African-Americans and how many men and women from interracial couples Franklin murdered. Reaching a verifiable number is part of the goal set by historical consultant Ayton
(The Forgotten Terrorist: Sirhan Sirhan and the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, 2007, etc.). The killer adopted the names "Joseph Paul" to honor Adolf Hitler's Nazi commander Goebbels, and "Franklin" to honor American Revolutionary icon Benjamin Franklin. An abused child and lifelong loner, he blended well into a crowd and could appear normal during casual conversations with strangers. Those are some of the reasons he escaped capture for so long, despite committing the murders during daylight in crowded settings. Among the shooting victims he has claimed are civil-rights leader Vernon Jordan and X-rated magazine publisher Larry Flynt. Both of those famous victims survived their wounds, and prosecutors never convicted Franklin for either shooting. As Ayton grapples with the reality that Franklin might have assumed the blame for crimes he did not commit, the author reaches the conclusion that Franklin probably did wound both Jordan and Flynt. In addition to approximately a dozen homicides, Franklin also committed at least 16 bank robberies—one of the ways he found money to support his violent way of life. Franklin disliked the term "serial killer," preferring "multiple slayer." Although some of his violent acts were spontaneous, others he planned carefully. He was weird and twisted, but almost certainly not insane by any courtroom standard. While Ayton researched the book, Franklin was wiling away the years in a Missouri prison.

A valiant effort to determine truth, marred by clunky writing, repetition, poorly organized chapters and—despite primary research using court and prison records—over-reliance on superficial and less-than-accurate newspaper clippings.