Journal of a Murder – Part 2 of 4

Posted: September 14, 2009 in Francke Case
 
 

Journal of a Murder

Written by Steven P. Jackson 4-28-91

The Statesman Journal

Part 2 of 4

 
 
 
 
1987

Mid-January – Hill and corrections officer Robert Merchant meet with the head of newly elected-Gov, Neil Goldschmidt’s transition team. Merchant, who supplied much of the information to the investigators, said he voiced his concerns that the present corrections management had been aware of the wrongdoing, done nothing about it, and that it was continuing.

Despite Hill’s verification of the meeting, spokesmen for Goldschmidt denied to the Statesman Journal in October 1989 that they or the governor had been made aware that there was continuing concerns about the 1986 investigation.

The Corrections Division, a part of the Department of Human Resources, becomes a separate department.

May

– Francke is brought to Oregon as the Director of the Department of Corrections by Goldschmidt.

Francke says he came to Oregon because the state had a prison system “with a lot of pressure on it. I wanted to be in a system that was facing that problem–a population crunch–with a governor who’s behind the solution.”

June

– State Treasurer Tony Meeker, a longtime colleague of Day, arranges a meeting between Francke and corrections officer Dave Larson. Larson tells Francke of his concerns about continuing problems within the department and the integrity of the 1986 state police investigators.

Francke responded by saying he plans to take Larson’s concerns to Goldschmidt, Larson told the Statesman Journal in October 1989. Meeker also told the newspaper that Francke began looking into Larson’s charges.

But again, Goldschmidt’s spokesmen denied knowledge of any concerns–Francke’s or anyone else’s–about the 1986 investigation or ongoing concerns about corruption within the department.

“As far as we were aware, the 1986 investigation was over and closed,” said Cory Streisinger, who was Goldschmidt’s legal counsel.

July

– Mickelson quits the Corrections Department and asks Dan Simmons, the director of the state General Services Department, for a job.

 

“He indicated that his style did not fit with Francke’s,” Simmons told the Statesman Journal in September 1989.

A short time after Mickelson was hired as the deputy director of the General Services Department, Francke warned Simmons “about some apparent over-expenditures and some other things in New Mexico regarding Jim and prison industries,” Simmons said.

Mickelson agreed to leave the General Services Department in March 1989, “by mutual consent” Simmons said, for unrelated problems.

1988

Through 1988

– Francke champions Goldschmidt’s prison expansion program, the largest in state history. At the same time, Francke comes under fire from legislators for poor financial management within the department.

 

July 28

– A warehouse, built outside the Oregon penitentiary walls and used by the prison industries program, burns to the ground. State fire officials label the fire’s origins as suspicious and leave the case open.

 

Two months before the fire, an official of the financially troubled program, wrote that the 65-year-old building should be demolished and that it didn’t offer much protection from theft or bad weather. But the department couldn’t afford the new building.

After Francke’s death, inmates and corrections employees contended that the warehouse was purposely burned for the $800,000 insurance settlement and/or to cover for thefts.

Nov. 1

– Gable is released from the Oregon State Penitentiary. According to a October 1990 Statesman Journal interview with his former wife, Janyne, Gable becomes deeply involved with Salem’s methamphetamine trafficking crowd.

 

Late December

– State Assistant Attorney General Scott McAlister, who for much of the past 17 years provided legal counsel for the Corrections Department, resigns telling Frohnmayer that he can no longer work for the corrections administration.

Francke had been critical of McAlister’s day-to-day legal advice to the department, also noting that McAlister was prone to spend his time in court rather than seek alternative remedies.

Late December

– Timothy David “Rooster” Natividad tells Melody Garcia, whose husband Konrad Garcia, is a penitentiary inmate, not to worry about her husband’s troubles with corrections administrators, according to Melody Garcia.

She told her story to the Statesman Journal and the state police in July 1989.

Natividad “mentioned Francke and said, ‘a lot of people will be happy when that man is dead,’” she said.

Dec. 28

– Francke meets with Gov. Goldschmidt who tells him that Francke needs to find a “sacrificial lamb” to blame the Corrections Department’s financial woes on.

 

Goldschmidt also tells Francke that he is becoming a political liability in the upcoming gubernatorial race against expected Republican contender Frohnmayer, corrections administrator Dave Caulley told police after the murder.

Caulley also told police that Francke told him that Caulley had been suggested as the sacrificial lamb.

Francke tells state Rep. Chuck Sides, a friend, that he had taken on some powerful people in New Mexico and closed down the drug trafficking into the New Mexico Penitentiary.

With ironic foreshadowing, Francke also tells Sides, “a knife could be shoved up your ribs and hit your heart, and you would be dead quickly.”

Dec. 29

– Randy Studer, who in 1990 becomes a prosecution witness against Gable, throws a party at which, he later tells police, Gable was in a rage and waving a loaded assault rifle. Gable had been entering the Portland drug market and getting drugs from big-time drug traffickers there, Studer told police in February 1990 after a series of interviews.

But Gable was behind on payments for drugs he had been given and was told to kill an official for them, Studer said.

Studer, prosecution witness Dan Walsh, and another man at the party, Rick Ringler, all later told police that they believe that the official Gable was talking about was Francke and that Gable had been paid in guns for the murder.

In the spring of 1990, Linda Perkins told a Marion County grand jury that she also was at Studer’s house when killing Francke was discussed. The men apparently were angry at Francke for some unknown reason, Perkins contends, and were talking about killing him or having him killed, possibly by the “Mexican Mafia.” She was in another room and couldn’t tell who was doing the talking.

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