Journal of the Michael Francke Murder

Posted: December 19, 2009 in Francke Case
The new webpage "Journal of a Murder" is finally completed.

Chronicle presents characters, controversies in case


by Steven P. Jackson

Thus far, time has failed to heal the wounds caused by the January 1989 stabbing death of Corrections Director Michael Francke.

Instead, time has served only to deepen the bitterness and cynicism his family feels toward Oregon authorities…

…to cast more shadows on his former department…

…to add names to the uneasy fraternity of drug dealers, detectives, bureaucrats, politicians, reporters, convicts, liars, lawyers, guards, governors, brothers and dead men who are bound together by Francke’s murder.

Journal of a Murder — crunched into brief glimpses of witness statements, interviews and investigation reports — is a chronicle representing two years of work by police, press, other investigators, Francke’s family and friends.

From a bloody New Mexico prison riot in 1980 to the hours surrounding Francke’s death to the imminent trial of his accused killer, Frank E. Gable, Journal of a Murder seeks to lay out in order the characters, actions and controversies that drive this case.

It shows how Gable got in trouble: his mouth.

Journal of a Murder shows why some people, including Francke’s family, believe that others were involved.

And it demonstrates how the many other questions about the investigations came to be and why many of them have refused to fade away.

They are the questions about the connections to drug trafficking, to official corruption, to a 1986 investigation of wrongdoing in the Oregon Department of Corrections, to the financial troubles that haunted Francke’s prison programs in New Mexico and Oregon.

They are the questions about the effectiveness and integrity of the investigators, the ignored conflicts of interest, the information leaks.

Whether there will be answers during the upcoming weeks and months of the trial, or ever, remains to be seen.

Journal of a Murder does not claim to present all of the thousands of telephone calls, informants, detective work or wild goose chases that make up this case.

It cannot look into the hearts and minds of the characters that make up its days and hours any more than it can peer into the future to say what will stand or fall in the courtroom or in the years to come.

And Journal of a Murder cannot portray the terrible toll the case has had on people — not just the obvious victims like the Francke family, but the not-so-obvious victims, like the police detectives whose marriages couldn’t take the longs hours away from home, or the good people whose opposing views made antagonists of natural allies.

Some of the chronicle means nothing to the case; some of it is probably coincidence, some a collection of lies.

But buried somewhere in the accounts of these 2 1/2 years is also the truth.

And only time will disclose whether the trial of Frank E. Gable will close the wounds…or rip them wider.


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