BONNE TERRE, Mo. — Joseph Paul Franklin, a white supremacist who targeted blacks and Jews in a cross-country killing spree from 1977 to 1980 that included the Georgia shooting of publisher Larry Flynt, was put to death this morning in Missouri.
Franklin, 63, was executed at the state prison in Bonne Terre for killing Gerald Gordon in a sniper shooting at a suburban St. Louis synagogue in 1977.
Franklin was convicted of seven other murders and claimed responsibility for up to 20, but the Missouri case was the only one that brought a death sentence.
Franklin admitted to shooting Hustler magazine publisher Flynt in suburban Atlanta’s Gwinnett County in 1978, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
Flynt, whose lawyer was also wounded, was leaving the Gwinnett County courthouse in Lawrenceville during an obscenity hearing, when he was shot.
Franklin admitted the shooting years later and police found evidence that he had stayed in a local motel.
Franklin, a paranoid schizophrenic, was in his mid-20s when he began drifting across the country. Several of his victims were interracial couples. In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Monday, Franklin insisted he no longer hates blacks or Jews. While he was held at St. Louis County Jail, he said he interacted with blacks at the jail, “and I saw they were people just like us.”
He has made similar statements to other media but has denied repeated interview requests from The Associated Press. Franklin’s attorney Jennifer Herndon said his reasoning exemplified his mental illness: He told her the digits of the AP’s St. Louis office phone number added up to what he called an “unlucky number,” so he refused to call it.