Details of Disappearance
Franklin was last seen in Rose Hill, Kansas on July 28, 1997. He was living on southwest 159th Street (now called County Line Road) with his wife of four years, Kelly Harrod (often referred to as Kelly Bishop or Kelly Osburn in media accounts), and their two daughters.
Kelly described her husband as abusive. She left him in January 1997 and took the children to Arkansas without telling Franklin where she was going. He filed for divorce and got temporary custody of their children, which caused Kelly to take them and return to live with Franklin in Kansas. She became pregnant not long after this and Franklin then dismissed the divorce action.
Franklin jointly owned a car with a friend, Jerry Wayne Trussell, and Kelly was friends with his wife, Tamara Ruth "Tammy" Trussell.
She confided to Tamara about the troubles in her marriage and said she was afraid Franklin would kill her if she tried to leave him again. She said she wanted to kill him but she couldn't because in the event of foul play, she would be the first one suspected. She asked Tamara to do it for her instead.
Tamara told Jerry about her conversations with Kelly, and Jerry told Kelly he would arrange the murder in return for sexual services from her. Kelly agreed. In the spring or early summer of 1997, the Trussells asked a neighbor, Jerry Wilson, for a gun, allegedly telling him Jerry "was going to kill someone or get rid of that Punkie guy or do something to him."
In late June or early July, the Trussells were evicted from their home and moved in with the Harrods. Tamara and Jerry had a discussion and decided to kill Franklin themselves, because they couldn't find anyone else willing to do it. They decided that Jerry would distract Franklin while Tamara shot him. Kelly wasn't privy to the conversation.
The next day, while Kelly was inside the house getting the children ready for school, Jerry and Franklin got into a fight outside. Tamara ran outside, got the gun out of a nearby truck, and shot Franklin on Jerry's order. The next day, the Trussells took Franklin's body, wrapped it in a blue roofing tarp and buried it in a remote location near the Walnut River.
Kelly filed a missing persons report. Within a week, she attempted to dispose of her husband's vehicle and other belongings, and she also tried to access his checking account by forging his signature.
The story began to unravel in August, when Wilson made an anonymous report to the police about the Trussells asking him for a gun. Another informant told investigators that Jerry had asked her ex-husband for help in disposing of Franklin's body. Investigators didn't have enough evidence to file charges against anyone, however, and the case went cold.
Kelly and the Trussells maintained that Franklin had simply left. Authorities didn't believe this, however, because Franklin was very close to his daughters and his father and they didn't think he would have abandoned them.
In 2001, Tamara began talking to police and offered several different stories about what happened, implicating her husband and Kelly in Franklin's death. In May 2004, Tamara confessed to her own role in the crime.
She pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, received 15 years in prison, and agreed to testify against Jerry. She led police to the place where she said Franklin's body was buried. Investigators couldn't find it but they did recover a blue tarp at the scene.
Kelly pleaded guilty to solicitation of first-degree murder and also agreed to testify against Jerry in exchange for 30 months in prison. He was charged with aiding and abetting murder in the first degree and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in 2005 went to trial in October 2006.
The jury couldn't reach a verdict, but Jerry was convicted at his second trial in June 2007 and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
Franklin's body has never been found. Foul play is suspected in his case due to the circumstances involved.