Serial Killers: The Case Of White Supremacist Joseph Franklin

To say that the far-right is only now spawning violence is to effectively ignore the vast majority of southern history. The far-left never lynched people. In any case, white supremacy has resulted in a massive following — even by people who don’t realize they’re advocating for it — a defeat in the “War of Northern Aggression” (LOL), and a massive number of psychotic killers who were just angry they couldn’t get their way in normal society.

Joseph Paul Franklin was one such man. That’s not to say he was totally at fault. The vast majority of common killers owe their aggressive instincts to a number of contributing factors. They include biology, environment, and personal choice. We’ll skip the biology of killing for the moment, and focus instead on Franklin’s environment. He grew up in an abusive home in Mobile, Alabama, where he was born on April 13, 1960 to James Clayton Vaughn Sr. and Helen Rau Vaughn. 

Franklin’s father was a WWII vet who had clearly been left damaged by everything he had seen. Franklin’s sister said, “Whenever [Vaughn Sr.] came to visit he’d beat us.” But his mother might not have been any better. A family friend described her as “a full-blooded German, a real strict, perfectionist lady. I never saw her beat any of [her children] but they told me stories.”

Franklin painted a less-than-rosy picture of his childhood as well. He said the children suffered from consistent hunger and abuse, and argued that his mother never cared about any of them. This factored into defenses of his later actions, to which he said occurred because his own emotional growth was stunted because of the treatment. 

Civil rights lawyer Hale said that Franklin grew to become increasingly aggressive toward minority figures after essentially turning into his own father when he married to become an abusive husband. He was arrested several times, but only due to minor infractions. The first known assault occurred in 1976, when Franklin stalked and maced an interracial couple. Only one year later, he bombed a synagogue in Tennessee before killing one black man and one white man in Wisconsin.

The violent, hate-filled spree continued to escalate. He traveled across the United States robbing banks and killing an unknown number of people — but at least more than 20. 

He was known to be skilled at the craft he had picked up. Authorities explained that he’d become adept at robbing banks, and others described the killings for their lack of evidence. He was also good at leaving little trace as he drifted from one place to the next. He was caught in September 1980, only to escape immediately.

Eventually, he was caught for two reasons: one, his tattoos made him easily identifiable by witnesses and, two, he made the mistake of donating to a blood bank for extra cash.

He became notorious for attempting to kill pornographer Larry Flint and civil rights activist Vernon Jordan. Both attempts failed. Flint was left paralyzed by his injuries. Although he was convicted for earlier killings, he didn’t actually confess to these two attempted murders until years later.

Notorious Female Serial Killers You’ve Probably Forgotten: PART 2

In part one of our two-part series on female serial killers, we discussed two women: Judias Buenoano, who murdered her entire family and several significant others, and Dorothea Puente, a nurse who injected elderly patients at a care facility in Massachusetts with lethal doses of epinephrine, which is typically used to jumpstart hearts during cardiac arrest. Some female serial killers were far more successful than most of their counterparts.

For example, Japanese midwife Miyuki Ishikawa killed between 85 and 169 young children and infants during the 1940s. To date, this is the most successful spate of murders in Japan’s history. Which is why you might be surprised to know that, once apprehended, she received only a four-year prison sentence. 

Ishikawa had been hired to carry out these murders. She was arrested on January 15, 1948 after a couple police officers discovered the remains of several of the children. The legal defense was probably even more appalling in that it basically worked: she argued that the parents of the children were truly responsible for their well-being, and that they should be faulted for their deaths.

Are you pro-life? Consider this: most of these murders were carried out after parents who did not want or could not afford their children paid to have Ishikawa dispose of them. This spate of murders is widely considered the primary reason that the Japanese government subsequently decided to pursue the legalization of abortion. Only one year after Ishikawa’s arrest, Japan legalized abortion — albeit for primarily economic reasons.

Nannie Doss killed at least 11 people in three decades, including most of her own family. Later nicknamed “Giggling Granny,” the “Black Widow, and “Lady Blue Beard,” she murdered four husbands, two children, two sisters, her mom, her grandson, and several others. The killings were carried out with rat poison — but perhaps the real crime is how on earth the authorities failed to figure out she was the culprit considering how many years it took her to carry out these murders.

Notorious Female Serial Killers You’ve Probably Forgotten

Although half of all serial killers in the United States are semi-intelligent white men hovering just below middle age, we’ve already discussed how anybody can become a murderer. Men worldwide are responsible for 90 percent of these crimes. But hey, guess what? Women have found enjoyment in killing, too — and society gets a real kick out of telling their stories. But for some reason they fade away from memory faster. Here are a few notorious female serial killers you’ve probably forgotten about!

Judias Buenoano was the first woman executed since 1848 and only the third executed in the United States after the federal government reinstated capital punishment in 1976. Keep in mind that the U.S. hadn’t put anyone to death in 17 years before Trump ended the moratorium on capital punishment during the transition into the Biden presidency, something that had not occurred in over a century.

Buenoano was convicted after murdering her husband James Goodyear, son Michael Buenoano, boyfriend Bobby Joe Morris, and potentially two other murders as well.

Aileen Wuornos whacked at least seven men in only a year, shooting each one of them point-blank. According to statements she made after getting caught, every single one of those killings was in self-defense. Wuornos said she’d been working as a prostitute, and the men had all tried to rape her. She was tried and convicted for six of the deaths, and then sentenced to death.

Dorothea Puente was elderly herself, but that didn’t stop her from murdering elderly or mentally disabled boarders at the boarding house she ran in Sacramento, California. When she was discovered, she was quickly nicknamed the “Death House Landlady.” Authorities attributed at least nine deaths to her name, and noted that she would deposit the social security checks of the deceased in her own accounts. She died in prison at the age of 82 in 2011.

Juana Barraza was already popular when it was discovered that she was an avid killer of senior citizens. He was a Mexican professional wrestler nicknamed the “Old Lady Killer.” And that’s just what she did. After beating or strangling up to 48 elderly women (and burglarizing them too), she was finally caught in 2006. She was tried and found guilty for at least 16 of the murders.

Kristen Gilbert didn’t care whether a patient had a disability or not — she would inject victims with a fatal dose of epinephrine (which is a drug used to start hearts, not stop them). She did this at least four times successfully, and failed twice when working at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Massachusetts. Perhaps in order to add to the excitement of having killed someone, she would respond when the code was announced. She was convicted in 1998 and incarcerated for life at the Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas.

Disabled Serial Killers You’ve Never Heard About: PART 2

In part one of our series on disabled serial killers — yes, they exist — we discussed that traditional stereotyping of serial killers is deeply flawed. Murderers come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes those with mental deficiencies are even more likely to show aggressive or violent tendencies. These are a few more disabled serial killers or murderers you’ve never heard about!

Prosecutors had a difficult time making charges stick to Donald Lang, who was found with blood on his clothes after he allegedly murdered a Chicago prostitute named Ernestine Williams in 1965. He was deaf and illiterate. Because he couldn’t communicate with anyone, even through sign language, authorities opted to institutionalize him instead. The case was dismissed after the death of a witness. Lang was freed in 1971, after which he murdered another prostitute.

This time, his incompetence didn’t save him — even though legally it should have — and he was convicted and incarcerated for a period up to 25 years. Or that’s what would have happened if the appeals court hadn’t overturned the original case. A judge ruled that Lang could never property defend himself even with counsel, and so he was confined to the Chicago-Read Mental Health facility where he remains to this day.

Joseph Mesa Jr. was charged with 15 counts of robbery and first-degree murder after he killed his Gallaudet University classmates Eric Plunkett and Benjamin Varner. A jury found him guilty and the judge handed him two life sentences, both without the possibility of parole. Although he never got the chance to attain serial killer status, psychiatrist Mitchell Hugonett says he fit the bill mentally: “[Mesa] found the murder as gratifying as if it were an end in and of itself.”

Mesa was one of those individuals who started young by killing animals. He admitted to killing a mother cat and its kittens with a baseball bat — and according to his doctors he enjoyed retelling the story.

Disabled Serial Killers You’ve Never Heard About

This might surprise you, but serial killers don’t come in a one-size fits all category. Are you worried that you might be serial murdered by that weird-looking, white, middle-aged male who lives next door? Don’t worry! Statistically you’re just as likely to be bludgeoned to death by the pimply-faced kid across the street. Oddly enough, even the disabled commit murder on a grand scale. Here are a few disabled serial killers (and a few other plain murderers) you’ve never heard about.

Remember the “Blade Runner” from the 2008 Paralympics? His name was Oscar Pistorius. The guy won the gold medal for the 100 and 400-meter sprint way back in 2012, too. But that wasn’t enough for the double-amputee, who went on to kill his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. His defense? He believed she was an intruder. 

And now for an actual serial killer: Seisaku Nakamura. If his Japanese name wasn’t cool enough all by itself, he was deaf. That didn’t stop him from successfully killing at least nine people nearly a century ago. He was only 14 years old when he began the spree with the rape and murder or two women. He was eventually caught because unlike more successful serial killers, he was not careful — and killed those closest to him, including his dad, brother and sister, and the brother’s wife and kid. He was executed after a guilty verdict.

Ready for an interesting one? In August 2001, a man named Baljit Singh Buttar was shot several times. According to witnesses at the scene, his brains had spilled all over the floor. But get this — Buttar survived. He would live the rest of his life in a care facility because he was blind and bound to a wheel-chair because of quadriplegia. But…that didn’t stop him from confessing to a number of hits after his change in scenery. The authorities tried and convicted him for murder conspiracy. He was confined to the care facility, where he died a decade ago. 

Three deaf and mentally impaired housemates named Jake Fairest, Warwick Toohey and Georgia Fields conspired to kill their friend Robert Right by throwing him off a second-floor balcony. The fall was far enough, because Robert died. CCTV footage of the incident actually showed the conversation that preceded the murder, because it was conducted using sign language. The three housemates discussed what the best way to murder Robert might be, and they all landed on “fall good.” None would ever see a jail cell. Fairest and Toohey were confined to another treatment facility while Fields would spend the rest of her life at home.

Why do the disabled commit murder? Maybe they’re angry at society. Maybe they’re pissed off that all the SSDI appeals have run dry. Maybe they want to show that they can commit murder just as skillfully as anyone else. Or maybe — and more likely — people are crazy whether disabled or not. Serial killers come in all shapes, sizes, genders, and ethnicities. They operate all over the world. And we’re here to unlock some of their greatest mysteries. 

Foreign Serial Killers You’ve Never Heard About: PART 2

We previously asked why Americans are so obsessed with serial killers, and later why Americans are so obsessed with their own serial killers, and then why we don’t talk about how many insane foreign serial killers stalk citizens of their own countries overseas. In part one of our series on foreign serial killers, we discussed a Colombian with hundreds of murders under his belt — who will likely be released from prison before his 2,000-year sentence has expired — and a man aptly named the “Terminator” for snuffing out entire families in a single night.

Alexander Pichushkin’s body count isn’t quite as high as some of the others we’ve named, but he makes our list on the sheer creep factor alone. We don’t know quite how far he made it, but the goal was to murder enough people to fill the squares on a chessboard (that’s 68, for all of you non-fans out there). But he believed in baby steps, so there were other goals along the way. For example, he wanted to surpass the body count of the Rostov Ripper who had killed 53 women and children. Child’s play, if you will.

Pichushkin was especially creepy because of the sexual nature of the crimes, which he called a “perpetual orgasm.” He would routinely kill older homeless men, leaving the bottle of vodka he shared with them inside of their skulls after bludgeoning them to death. At least they enjoyed a last drink before they met their maker. After his arrest in 2006, he was kept in a glass cage during the trial, which resulted in a verdict of life in prison.

Yang Xinhai was a Chinese serial killer who would use axes, meat cleavers and, when he got bored, shovels to take out entire families. It is believed he killed more than 300 people from the years 2000 to 2003 after he experienced an especially bad breakup. He said, “I have no desire to be part of society. Society is not my concern.”

How Does Society Define A Serial Killer?

We probably all have our own individual definition of what “makes” a serial killer. Ask someone the definition of “serial killer” and they’ll probably give a simplistic answer: a guy who kills a lot of people. But from a purely scientific point of view, there have been female serial killers too. The FBI defines a serial killer as a person who has killed three or more murders in more than a month. There is generally an “emotional cooling off” in between kills.

Why is this the definition? It’s actually simple to understand. The FBI doesn’t want to lump one-time mass murderers and super shooters in the same category as the people who plan more methodical killing sprees over a longer time period. There are a couple reasons for this. First, someone who commits mass murder in a single day is usually caught or killed very fast — and serial killers are usually smart enough to evade capture for longer periods of time.

Second, serial killers are active over a longer period of time because they like what they’re doing. One-time mass murderers might have planned everything out, but they’re usually people venting against society. Serial killers don’t really fit the same mold.

There are four types of serial killers. The “visionary” generally believes that he has been purposed to kill by a higher power. These guys are usually your run-of-the-mill whack jobs who hear voices. 

The “mission-oriented” killer does so in order to dispatch a certain marginalized group in society. For example, if a white guy searches out only African American victims, he’s all about the mission. Another sicko.

The “hedonistic” serial killer is in it for personal pleasure. These are the guys (or gals) who liken the act of killing to an orgasm. These killers are more likely to rape, torture, or steal a wad of cash before they off the victim. 

The “power” hungry serial killer is in it because murder makes him feel like he’s in control. He’s doing it to dominate and subjugate victims, who might be younger or older, because plain ‘ol S&M just doesn’t do it for him. 

Herbert Mullin was a “visionary” serial killer who operated between 1972 and 1973, when he killed 13 people. He thought the voices in his head would cause an earthquake in California if these particular people weren’t sacrificed for the greater good. The fantasy was a bit more elaborate, of course.

You see, Mullin thought that the earthquake had always been a threat. It was only staved off due to the perpetual bloodshed around the same time, i.e. the Vietnam War. When the war began to taper off around 1972, it was up to him to keep the sacrifices going. 

Serial killers target anyone and everyone (ask these lawyers: from the young to the old. They usually escape detection for long periods of time because they have the tendency to commit murder infrequently and without any obvious pattern. The lack of evidence doesn’t give detectives much to go on, and the longer a serial killer is operational, the better he gets at his “craft.”

Foreign Serial Killers You’ve Never Heard About

International news is one of the most popular segments in mainstream media — but it’s usually dominated by cycles about Russia, China, or the Middle East. Rarely do we hear about what’s going on in smaller African or South American countries. Even more rarely than that do we hear about individuals who cause a big stir. Serial killers certainly live and breathe outside of the United States, and citizens of other countries find them just as scary as we do here.

Luis Garavito was a Colombian mass-murderer with a body count so high we’re not even sure of the exact number. Specialists theorize it could be as high as 300, but we’ve confirmed that Garavito has killed at least 138 people. They were all young boys. He raped, tortured, and killed them all. Although sentenced to nearly 2,000 years in prison, he’ll probably be released early because Colombia doesn’t let anyone stew in a cell for more than three decades. Oh, and Garavito wants to jump into politics upon release. Maybe he’ll be the Colombian Donald Trump!

Pedro Rodrigues (or the Pedrinho Matador) killed over 100 people between the years 1966 and 1973 — but if that seems like it was a long time ago, keep in mind he was only 14 when the first body dropped. Apparently, the guy doesn’t want anyone else to rival his killer skills. He stated that he would kill anyone with a bodycount as high or higher than his.

Anatoly Onoprienko killed at least 52 people in only seven years, and he obtained the nickname the “Beast of Ukraine” as a result. He is also sometimes called “The Terminator.” He was arrested for the murders in 1995. Why did he do it? According to him, the voices in his head told him to. He was known to have killed entire families as part of a ritual. He died in prison from heart failure.

Why Are Americans Obsessed With Serial Killer Cases And Trials?

Americans have a penchant for being a little more interested in certain types of artistic material. Take The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones for example — or literally any other post-apocalyptic, dystopian, or downright depressing story. We love them. Dexter was the story of a serial killer who murdered only people who really deserved it (with one or two mistakes and deviations along the way). Why do we find these stories so very compelling? Do we have a secret desire to live and survive in one of these worlds?

Teaching Fellow at University of Law David Green said, “The reasons people are obsessed with crime generally and true documentaries specifically are multi-faceted. One of the key reasons that students are drawn to study criminal law and why I believe the public are drawn to true crime documentaries is the human interest factor. Crime can affect any of us, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or social status. It can happen at random and when it does happen, can devastate people’s lives.”

And therein might lie the key: it’s a psychological interest we have with people who are different — or at least when those differences lead to disaster. It could be that deep-seated fear of anything different that causes our interest in these types of criminal cases over, say, personal injury cases (just ask

Like it or not, bad news is something we all find exciting. Humans have this intrinsic need to break what works or cause chaos to break up the peace — even though peace is something for which we all say we strive. Are we really so self-destructive? The answer is probably “yes.”

Psychologist Dr. Meg Arroll explained that “true crime stories allow us to explore the darker side of nature in a safe way.” Even watching shows that explore this dark underworld can “trigger chemical reactions in our bodies,” she said, “while also affirming our moral views about right and wrong.”

Others believe we adopt this interest not because of an inherent self-destructive flaw, but for exactly the opposite reason: we do it to protect ourselves and the ones we love the most. Author Caitlin Rother said, “We want some insight into the psychology of a killer, partly so we can learn to protect our families and ourselves, but also because we are simply fascinated by aberrant behaviour and the many paths that twisted perceptions can take.”

This perspective justifies our love of documentaries that dig into the minds of serial killers, but what about the aforementioned dystopian films and TV shows that are increasingly popular? Do they teach us something about the minds of killers? After all, they’re just imagined realities by writers who aren’t necessarily specialized in real-world subjects that parallel the ones they write about.

Green said, “It’s clear we’re a nation of true crime addicts. The popularity of this genre can be due to our natural human interest making us curious about the dark and the different, but it’s fascinating to see it can also be because we want to learn how to protect ourselves from harm.”


Serial Killers: Edward J. Adams OR William J. Wallace, Depending On Who You Ask

William J. Wallace was born in 1887. He lived on the family farm in Hutchinson, Kanson with his mother and father. When his father died and his mother remarried, he was at constant odds with his new stepfather. On top of that, he was growing more and more exhausted by the constant physical strain of daily farmwork. That’s likely why he decided to set off for Wichita, where he learned how to be a barber.

Unfortunately, it also set him on a dark path: in Wichita he met John Callahan, who taught him how to steal professionally. Before long, Wallace was caught up in bootlegging and theft scandals. He married, but his wife took off when she became weary of his infidelity. While Prohibition was still in effect, he became well known for starting a successful gang and committing a string of bank robberies in Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa.

Eventually he was caught and sentenced to life in prison.

Not long thereafter, he escaped custody in transport. Amusingly he was caught only a few days later when he began another string of robberies, and then sentenced to 10-30 years in Kansas. Ever the escape artist, he managed to flee from imprisonment only months later. 

Thus started a massive game of cat and mouse that left seven people dead — three of them police officers. Wallace (who at some point changed his name to Eddie Adams) pistol-whipped  an 82-year-old man during the commission of a bank robbery in Haysville. The man died. In the course of the manhunt, Adams came upon Patrolman A.L. Young, and shot him dead. According to witnesses, Young and Adams had been in love with the same woman. For some reason she chose the lawman over the outlaw.

The police caught up with Adams once again on November 20, 1921. In the course of pulling over his vehicle, the police were abruptly shot at, and an officer named Robert Fitzpatrick was killed. Fleeing to Cowley County, Adams and the men he was with ran out of gas near a farm, where they tried to steal George Oldham’s vehicle. Adams killed the man when he fought back.

Adams tried to flee one final time by using an officer’s funeral as cover for the escape. When trying to rent a car, the garage owner recognized Adams and called the police. When three police officers arrived, Adams managed to kill one and wound another before D.C. Stuckey shot him three times. He died on the scene. 

Thousands of people came to view his body, which was happily put on display to celebrate the man’s end.