Joseph Paul Franklin, the white supremacist serial killer convicted of eight murders and who admitted to shootings that wounded civil rights leader Vernon Jordan and paralyzed Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt, died by lethal injection Wednesday morning.
He had been scheduled to die at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, but a stay of execution regarding the drug used in lethal injection briefly delayed the process. A federal appeals court ruling lifted the stay and an early-morning Supreme Court decision paved the way for his execution at the state prison in Bonne Terre, Mo., the Associated Press reports.
Franklin, 63, was put to death for the killing of Gerald Gordon, 42, who was fatally wounded outside of a synagogue near St. Louis in 1977. He was not initially captured, but began a killing and terror spree that lasted three years and included the bombing of a synagogue in Chattanooga, Tenn., in 1977, shootings of Flynt in 1978 and Jordan in 1980; three woman hitchhikers; several interracial couples, and even two black children while he waited to kill an interracial couple.
Although he was convicted of murdering eight people, in an interview with CNN, he said the number may be as many as 22. In his final hours, he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he is no longer racist and feels remorse for his acts. “It doesn’t make a bit of sense,” he said. “It was completely illogical.”