CINCINNATI — A white supremacist serial killer who received a stay of execution Tuesday in Missouri haunts the dreams of an Ohio judge who helped get him to confess to the 1980 shooting deaths of two teenage cousins in Cincinnati.
Hamilton County Municipal Judge Melissa Powers was an assistant county prosecutor when her boss at the time, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters, asked her in 1997 to help connect Joseph Paul Franklin to the fatal shootings of Darrell Lane, 14, and Dante Evans Brown, 13.
Powers appealed to Franklin's ego in a letter followed by phone calls and an interview with him on Missouri's death row, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
Powers, describing Franklin as a monster, said she still feels her throat tighten when she thinks about that interview.
"I looked into the face of evil," Powers said.
Franklin confessed to killing the two black teenagers as they walked to a store in Cincinnati.
"You know I did it," Franklin told Powers. "I killed those dudes."
He shot each of them twice in the chest with a deer rifle. They were two of as many as 20 killings connected to Franklin, who targeted blacks and Jews in a cross-country killing spree from 1977 to 1980.
Franklin, now 63, was convicted of the Ohio slayings in 1998. Judge Ralph Winkler sentenced him to two life sentences. Ohio did not have the death penalty in 1980.
"I was raised to look for the good in people. I couldn't find it in him," the now-retired Winkler said.
Franklin received the stay of execution Tuesday just hours before he was scheduled to die Wednesday in Missouri for killing a 42-year-old man outside a St. Louis synagogue in 1977.
"If there's a devil that walks on this earth, I would believe that was Joseph Paul Franklin," Powers told the newspaper.
She says his image still returns to her in horrific dreams 15 years after the frightening interview.
"I didn't talk about it for a long time," she said.