BONNE TERRE, Missouri — The white supremacist who confessed to the 1980 “Rainbow Murders” in Pocahontas County was put to death in a Missouri prison Wednesday morning.

Joseph Paul Franklin, 63, who claimed he murdered as many as 20 people in several states between 1977 and 1980, was executed by lethal injection in connection with a Missouri murder.

In 1997 Franklin told a Cincinnati prosecutor that he murdered hitchhikers Nancy Santomero, 19, of New York, and Vicki Durian, 26, of Iowa on June 25, 1980 in Pocahontas County. The women were traveling to a Rainbow Family meeting in the Monongahela National Forest.

Franklin’s confession came four years after Pocahontas County resident Jacob Beard was convicted for the crimes. After a number of legal proceedings focused on Franklin’s confession, Beard was found not guilty by a Braxton County jury in a second trial that took place in May 2000.

Franklin never stood trial on the 1980 murders.

Those who investigated the Beard case told the Charleston Daily Mail Tuesday they still believe Beard committed the murders, not Franklin.

“If you look at the forensic and ballistic evidence, it is not consistent with Franklin’s statement,” former Pocahontas County Sheriff Jerry Dale told the newspaper. “I’ve worked in prisons myself and I know how inmates work. There’s a society within a society.”

Dale claims Franklin read about the deaths in a crime magazine.

“He got the number of times the victims were shot wrong. The trajectory of the shots – nothing makes sense,” Dale told the Daily Mail.


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  • rick

    damn my typind has gone downhill.

    • 4earl

      not sure what is goinh on here!

  • rick

    Well...he is now is a much better place....the cold hard ground. He sure screwed up a very complicated and hard worked double murder case for WV law enforcement. He lefte handedly confessed to a double murder but never really could give details or other evidence of the crime. It let a very guilty man go free of double murder. He refused to give any statement prior to his execution....i hope if there is a hell....he is in it.

  • Tom P.

    Justice must be both sure and swift. Often, as in most capital cases, they conflict.

  • chasmo

    this is what is wrong with the " system" ... been kept alive since the 80s---- CERTAIN , yes, CERTAIN GUILITIES DESERVE IMMEDIATE STOPPAGE OF THEIR OWN HEART BEAT --- a total scumbag that has been allowed to exist wayyyyyyyyyyyy to long

  • Mark

    Sorry, but this is what is right with the system...our system of justice is set up (supposedly) on the idea that it's better to free a 1000 guilty before we jail 1 innocent. In this case, and in the 1980s, the wrong person would have been put to death. Do I think there are way too many appeals and rights of the convicted? Yes! But, do I think I'd rather not execute an innocent person? Absolutely! Sometimes justice is slow, but to get it correct? Grind away!

    • 4earl


  • Mr Bullsnip

    I think if you get a death sentence it should be carried out within 30 days.

    • Davey

      That's kind of a touchy issue, that would be putting too many possible innocent people on death row to be executed, I'm sure It's happened more times than any prosecutors will ever freely admit. But if they're legitimately guilty of a capital crime (murder), then so be it, they need to be put down. The way things are these days, we as a society want a swift and quick fix to the justice system, and it's really not possible. There are so many things wrong, lawmakers don't stop to think or contemplate about a thorough way to fix anything, they just want to make their political party happy. The justice system has been and will be screwed up for the forseeable future until the BS in Washington, DC comes to an end and they start putting the tax payers at the forfront., NOT the stupid agendas.

  • me

    1980 and he now just being put to death? This is whats wrong with the system.