Journal of a Murder
Chronicle presents characters, controversies in case
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.
The story below — 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
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, 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.
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 the past 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.
February 2 - The New Mexico State Penitentiary riot begins. Before the riot is quelled several days later,
inmates kill 31 other prisoners, mostly informants who were identified by administration “snitch jackets.”
Michael Francke, an assistant attorney general from New Mexico, is brought in as prosecutor to try the rioters.
Transferred Oregon inmate, Charles Veldon “Buck" Burgess serving time for manslaughter, is segregated from
the New Mexico penitentiary general population on February 25 so that authorities can investigate his role in
the riots. In 1989, Burgess, an associate of the methamphetamine drug traffickers involved in the Francke
case, will be questioned by Oregon State Police about Francke’s murder.
Burgess will point to some of his Salem associates as possible suspects in Francke’s death.
July - Francke becomes the director of the New Mexico Corrections Department.
After Francke is killed in January 1989, police receive a number of tips that his death was related to his work
as a prosecutor after the New Mexico riots and/or because of enemies-such as Hispanic and Aryan gangs-that
he made while corrections director in New Mexico.
Summer - Frank E. Gable, 27, the man who will be indicted for Francke’s murder in April 1990, is at the
Oregon prison farm annex. He receives several misconduct reports for violations such as the use of drugs and
having sex with a female inmate.
September - Jim Mickelson, the director of New Mexico’s beleaguered prison industries program, quits
New Mexico. He told the Statesman Journal in September 1989 that the New Mexico program was a financial
mess before he arrived and that he and Francke parted on good terms.
October - Francke hires former auditor John Tafoya to reconstruct the New Mexico prison industries
books that had not been kept in two years. In Oregon, Mickelson gets the job of running prison industries for
the Oregon Corrections Division.
June - At the insistence of state senator L.B. Day, R-Salem, the Oregon State Police launch an
investigation into charges of criminal activities and corruption at the Oregon Department of Corrections. Day’s
insistence on the investigation is based on information brought to him by corrections officers Dave Larson and
Summer - The Oregon corrections investigation eventually involves
the state police, the FBI and the US Secret Service. Charges range from prison drug trafficking to gambling to
official misconduct. Critics of the investigation say its integrity was compromised on at least two occasions
--Assistant attorney general Scott McAlister, who provided legal counsel to the Corrections Department and
was privy to much of the investigation, told Harol Whitley, the former security manager of the Oregon
penitentiary and one of the top suspects, about the investigation’s progress.
--State police detectives told corrections officials about the investigation’s progress. State police detective
Loren Glover, who in 1989 would be one of the lead detectives in the Francke murder investigation, also
updated McAlister on the investigation’s progress.
By that time, Whitley had left Oregon to become the warden of the Nevada State Penitentiary. Also an audits
division report for 1984 and 1985 of Oregon prison industries notes inadequate control of transactions and
poor tracking of inventories.
August 4 - Day writes to Gov. Vic Atiyeh complaining that he is becoming disillusioned with the state
police investigation. Day, a tough local Teamster’s Union official, tells Atiyeh that he fears a cover-up of
“widespread corruption by a great many people...It appears at this point an attempt is being made to cut off
Late August - Whitley, whose brother-in-law is former state police Maj. John Duman, is questioned on
the telephone by Lt. Dean Renfrow of the Oregon State Police. Before hanging up, Whitley turns the tables
and questions Renfro.
The following is a transcript of that part of their conversation:
Whitley: “Well, it looks to me like some things are being covered up.”
Renfro: “No, not on our part.”
Renfro: “Not on our part, obviously.”
Whitley: “Yeah, how come you’re doing the investigation now?”
Renfro: “Well, what they did was they just, uh, decided to bring somebody in from outside the area just to get
another look at it, and there’s nothing wrong with how it was conducted initially at all from our point.”
Whitley: “That aint what I heard, but it’s neither here nor there, I guess.”
Renfro had already questioned Duman, who had been taken off the corrections investigation case, according
to police officials, to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. Renfro asked Duman, who since has
retired, about his association with Whitley and any knowledge of illegal activities by Whitley. Both Whitley and
Duman denied that Whitley was involved in any illegal activities.
September - After a year, John Tafoya is able to partially reconstruct the accounting books of the New
Mexico prison industries program. Tafoya discovered almost $1 million in unpaid bills stashed in a desk
drawer; the purchase of equipment that was obsolete; $350,000 worth of unfinished goods that could not be
accounted for; and that top dollar had been paid for poor quality raw materials.
Also, Francke told Tafoya that he had been under the impression that there was as much as $800,000 in the
industries account; there was about $12,000.
The state of New Mexico never pursued whether the program’s financial woes were criminal in nature or simply
mismanagement, Tafoya told the Statesman Journal in September 1989.
Tafoya’s findings and the results bear a remarkable similarity to findings discovered by Oregon
auditors in 1990.
October-November - Day dies of a heart attack at a political fund-raising rally hours before
debating his political opponent, Jim Hill, D-Salem, who later takes Day’s seat in the legislature. Day still was
angry that the investigation was being cut off, his colleagues told the Statesman Journal in 1989.
Day’s file, which contained allegations of official wrongdoing and of a cover-up, is taken from his Teamsters
office and given to Attorney General Dave Frohnmayer.
Frohnmayer never looked at the file, his aide, Marla Rae, told a legislative committee Nov. 30, 1989. She said
she glanced through the file but saw nothing pressing in it. After a month in Frohnmayer’s office, Day’s file was
turned over to Maj. Reg Madsen, who was in charge of the state police corrections investigation. Madsen was
named state police superintendent in 1990.
When the 1986 investigation was linked to the Francke case in the summer of 1989, the media requested the
1986 files and reports. Police at first released only part of the files, much of them blacked out; Day’s file was
The press requested and received the rest of the file, including at least part of Day’s papers several months
later from Renfro. Renfro had been promoted to Major and as head
of the criminal investigations division was in charge of the Francke investigation.
Renfro said the file had been “honestly misplaced.” Among the misplaced papers was Day’s letter to Atiyeh
warning of a cover-up.
The 1986 investigation closed with a half-dozen, mostly low-ranking, corrections employees resigning, being
fired or demoted. There were several charges-ranging from theft to marijuana use-against low-ranking
corrections employees; only one for marijuana smuggling, resulted in a conviction-a six month jail term for the
November 16 - Francke meets Bingta Hardgrove. They are married April 28, 1987 in Santa Fe, New
December 31 - Francke leaves the New Mexico Corrections Division.
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
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.
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
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 finishes the terms of his parole 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.
Early January - Gable purchases a .357 caliber handgun from John Kevin Walker, a former convict
who becomes a prosecution witness in 1990. Gable says he needs the gun “to do a job on corrections,”
Walker told the police in 1990, again, only after a series of denials in previous interviews.
Because Gable reportedly made his remark about two weeks before Francke’s death, Walker told the
Statesman Journal in April 1990 that he thought that the attack on Francke was planned for some time and
was not a random car burglary.
Walker also told the newspaper that he thought that Gable was after something Francke had in his car or
briefcase and that Gable had been told of Francke’s habit of late meetings with his directors on Tuesday nights.
Walker said only corrections officials would have known that information.
Jan. 11 - Bingta Francke leaves her husband, take’s the couple’s infant son and goes to live with her
mother in Fresno, CA. Relations between the couple were strained to the point that Michael Francke told
friends that he didn’t think that the marriage would last.
Jan. 12 - Scott McAlister leaves Oregon for a job as the inspector general for the Utah Department of
Corrections. He tells Frohnmayer that he hopes to return and work for him again in a few years. On McAlister’s
recommendation, Whitley, who resigned his job in Nevada, also is hired by the Utah Corrections Department.
Jan. 13 - Francke reportedly tells his sister-in-law, Katie Francke, that he had “stepped on some toes” and
uncovered criminal activities within his department. She says drug trafficking was one of the issues he
Michael Francke tells her that he plans to go to the legislature Jan. 18 to “clean house.”
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
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, brother of Janyne Gable, 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
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
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.
Jan. 14-15 - Francke shoots his shotgun from the back porch of his rural Scotts Mills home. After his
death, about 60 empty shells were found on the porch; a milk crate full of live shells were just inside the porch
door; the shotgun was on his bed; and a .45 caliber handgun was under his pillow.
Jan. 15 - Austin Bashum, who is Francke’s brother-in-law from his first marriage, is offered the job as
deputy director of the Corrections Department by Francke, a position that, at the time, was held by Richard
"Dick" Peterson, Bashum later tells the police.
According to Bashum, Francke was suspicious of massive fraud going on in the department.
But the official police report of the interview with Bashum has only one line: “No relevant information.”
Jan. 15 - Natividad talks to Konrad Garcia by Telephone, according to Garcia. Natividad asks him if he
would like to get even with corrections administrators for what Garcia perceived as mistreatment.
Natividad says Garcia can get paid if he wasn’t particular about where the money came from or who in the
administration he would be asked to attack.
Jan. 16 - Natividad shows up at Melody Garcia’s house high on methamphetamines. According to Melody
Garcia, “he was…babbling about shooting it out with some Mexicans…he said his people would get even with Michael Francke.”
Jan. 17 - Francke, 42, is stabbed to death in the parking lot outside his Dome Building office on the state
hospital grounds, 2575 Center St. NE, Salem.
Police think Francke was attacked about 7pm.
Jan. 18 - About 12:40 am, security guard Stephen Rubino discovers Francke’s body on a porch of the
Francke apparently had tried to gain access to the building by punching out a pane of glass in the porch door.
His keys and glasses were several feet away from his feet.
At about 10am., District Attorney Dale Penn of Marion County, whose office is in charge of the investigation,
says no weapon has been found and there are no suspects.
Jan. 18-19 - Francke’s wife, Bingta, his two brothers, Patrick and Kevin, and Kevin’s wife, Katie, later
contend that they were told conflicting stories by Peterson, who was second in command at the Corrections
Peterson tells them that he left the building after Francke and discovered Francke’s car door open. He says he
then paged Francke and began a meticulous search of the building and grounds, according to the family. He told
them that he left when he couldn’t find Francke.
The family later learns that the open car door was discovered by two women employees and that Peterson told
police that he left before Francke and returned to look for him that night with Dave Caulley.
Peterson, who retired in 1990, as with most other Corrections Department officials, has refused to comment
about the case.
The apparently contradictory stories raise initial suspicions in the Francke family that they are not being told the
truth by corrections, police and the district attorney’s office officials.
Kevin Francke insists that Penn and the state police were told of the murder’s possible connection to his
brother's department in the first few days after the murder; Penn says he didn’t learn of the accusation until it
appeared in the press months later.
Jan. 19 - State police receive more than 50 telephone calls with information about the case. Fifteen to 20
investigators are assigned to the case, most of them state police.
Penn says the two primary motives being investigated are robbery and a possible plot by someone involved in
the corrections process in New Mexico or Oregon. Francke’s watch, pager, car keys and wallet were found on
his body; his office keys were found near the body.
Dr. Larry Lewman, the state medical examiner, says Francke was killed by a stab wound to the heart. He says
there were other internal and external injuries but refuses to elaborate at the request of investigators.
Although the information is not released to the public until a year later, Francke was stabbed once through his
heart and once through the bicep on his left arm; he had cuts and bruises on his hands, arms, head and face
Jan. 18 - A group of corrections officers, who had been interviewed by the Statesman Journal since
December about drug trafficking and working conditions at the Oregon State Penitentiary, call the newspaper
within hours of Penn’s press conference announcing the murder.
“We think we know who killed Mr. Francke,” a spokesman for the group says. The officer names the
penitentiary official they had been accusing of running the prison drug trafficking.
The officers have no proof of their contentions. But they are just the first of dozens of people, who over the
next two years will contend that there is a connection between the murder and the corruption in the department.
Jan. 20 - Johnny L. Crouse, 31, a paroled inmate of the Oregon State Penitentiary, is interviewed by the
Statesman Journal about the difficulties ex-cons have in returning to society. During the interview he says that
he thinks the Francke killing was an outside hit or contract job by someone paid a lot of money.
“Murder is the easiest crime to get away with,” he said, although his comments about Francke were not used
in the story.
Jan. 21 - Parole officer Lowell Kester tells police that a man followed him from the Dome Building to his
car on the evening of Jan. 17. Kester described the man as a little more than six feet tall, 185 pounds, wearing
a grey mid-length jacket and dark pants.
Jan. 24 - Police investigators release a sketchy description of a dark-haired man suspected of killing
Francke. The man, seen running from the parking lot, is described as wearing dark pants and a light-colored
coat that extended below his waist. Penn refuses to disclose many details about the attack, saying it will help
investigators differentiate between real information and crank calls.
Jan. 25 - Investigators interview state hospital patients and employees, including Janyne Gable, who is
the wife of Frank E. Gable and who works as a nurse at the hospital.
There are 25 state investigators working on the case.
Jan. 26 - Patrick Francke of Lenexa, Kansas, tells the media that the family doesn’t believe the robbery
Jan. 29 - Investigators have collected about 200 leads and tips according to Maj. Renfrow, head of the
state police criminal investigations division.
Jan. 31 - Timothy David Natividad is shot and killed by his former girlfriend, Elizabeth Godlove.
Feb. 1 - State police post a notice at the Department of Corrections headquarters seeking information about
a second man: dark-haired, well-groomed and dressed with a dark complexion seen in the Dome Building
shortly before Francke was stabbed. Penn says the man is wanted only for questioning and was not the one
seen running from the scene.
Feb. 2 - Police interview Bingta Francke and take hair and fingerprint samples. She takes a lie-detector test
that indicates she was not involved in her husband's death. She tells the police that she believes that powerful
people within the state government, including corrections, and in private industry may have killed her husband.
But in the months after her husband's death, Bingta must herself contend with continued speculation about her
possible involvement — especially after it is revealed that Michael Francke took out two double indemnity life
insurance policies worth $800,000 shortly before death.
All of the policies benefited Bingta and her son, according to other Francke family members. Nothing went to
Michael Francke's two teen-age children from his first marriage until his brothers later discovered an old policy
Feb. 7 - Police seek an inmate who failed to return to a Corrections Department drug and alcohol program
from a pass he received several days after the killing.
Kris Sean Keerins, 26, is not a suspect, police say, but may have witnessed the killing while out on another
pass Jan. 17. Keerins was serving a sentence for burglary, forgery, theft and drug offenses.
He is the brother of Michael Keerins, who in September 1989 will become a prosecution witness.
Kris Keerins is seen with Buck Burgess at a Salem restaurant.
Feb. 8 - Burgess, who has convictions for burglary, drug trafficking and involuntary manslaughter, is
questioned by state police about the Francke case.
According to a police report, Burgess' truck was seen on state hospital grounds where a knife was found.
A lie-detector test, which is not admissible in court because of the questionable reliability of such tests,
indicates that Burgess was not involved in killing Francke.
However, he tells police that he thinks that the Keerins brothers were capable of having someone killed. But he
says he has no first-hand knowledge to support his suspicions.
Feb. 14 - John Crouse tells his parole officer that he was near the Dome Building when Francke was
killed. The parole officer tells the Salem Police Department that Crouse observed Francke being killed by five
Penn says investigators are getting closer to identifying someone. He declines to say what has changed in the
Feb. 15 - State police interview Crouse. He alternately says that he saw several Hispanic men kill Francke;
he lied about the Hispanic men to get himself off the hook; he believes that someone from New Mexico
ordered the killing; and that he didn't kill Francke.
Feb. 16 - Crouse takes a lie-detector test that indicates that he did not kill Francke, according to the
examiner, although the results of the test later become a point of contention between the state police and FBI.
Crouse soon stops reporting to his parole officer and a nationwide warrant is put out for his arrest. According
to the warrant, he is wanted as a possible suspect in the Francke murder.
Feb. 16 - Police identify the person Francke was scheduled to meet the night of his death, but the person
is not considered a focus of the investigation, Penn says.
Feb. 20 - Police capture Kris Keerins. Penn emphasizes that the escaper is not a suspect, simply a
Feb 21 - Penn says the list of suspects has been reduced to several people.
Feb. 22 - A police interview with Kris Keerins adds no new information about the case, Penn says.
Early March - Gable approaches Mike Keerins and asks him what his brother Kris had been telling the
police about the night of Jan. 17, according to Mike Keerins in an interview he gives the Statesman Journal in
March 22 - Loren Glover, one of the state police detectives working on the Francke case, says he thinks
that the case is coming to an end, “and that we are going to solve this case.”
April - According to Janyne Gable, Frank Gable tells her at different times during April that:
■ He knew what really happened to Francke;
■ He had to go live with his mother in South Dakota because he had made an agreement with someone to kill
■ "I know what it's like to watch someone die."
But Janyne Gable doesn't tell anybody about the conversations until the police interview her in September.
April 4 - Frustrated by the lack of progress, the Francke family seeks help from a Florida psychic to help
solve the murder. She tells them that the killer's last name begins with a hard K sound.
The family finally receives an autopsy report, but several pages are missing or blacked out.
April 4 - In Salem, Crouse confesses killing Francke to the state police. He says he was breaking into
Francke's car when he was surprised by Francke and stabbed him.
In the next two days, Crouse repeatedly changes his story about killing Francke. In one version, he stabs
Francke five times; in another three times.
But in still another story he reveals accurate information that had not yet been made public — that Francke-
was stabbed twice, in his left arm and his heart.
April 6 - Crouse tells the state police that he and Buck Burgess traded information about what the police
had been asking them regarding the Francke case.
Crouse tells a girlfriend that he did not kill Francke. But, he says, the police "know that I know the person."
April 10 - State police search the house of one of Crouse's girlfriends and find a pair of Nike running
shoes that match a footprint found at the scene of the crime. Crouse continues to tell police varying accounts
of Francke's murder.
April 15 - The Statesman Journal reports that Crouse is being questioned in connection with the killing.
Penn acknowledges that investigators had talked to Crouse.
But the district attorney refuses to say whether Crouse, who was returned to prison April 4 for parole
violations, is a suspect, a witness, an informant or still being investigated.
April 19 - Crouse admits to FBI agents that he killed Francke after, a fight.
April 20 — Patrick Francke says Penn has told him that the credibility of Crouse is in doubt because the
inmate has given several versions of the killing.
Late April - A Salem woman overhears Dan Underhill, a parolee, tell a female friend that five "drugged
up" people were breaking into Francke's car when Francke surprised them and was killed.
Underhill reportedly says that a man named “Cappie” and another man named “Shorty” were involved.
Cappie "Shorty" Harden, a convicted drug dealer who is a major prosecution witness, will tell police in January
1990 that he saw Gable attack Francke.
The woman told her story to the police in January 1990, after reading about police questioning of Harden in a
Statesman Journal story.
May 5 - Crouse tells fellow penitentiary inmate Leonard Ortega that he killed Francke and that Burgess and
Kris Keerins were present.
May 9 - Police are told by an informant that Gable may have information about Francke's death.
May 15 - Janyne Gable moves to North Bend in Coos County with Frank Gable. She and Gable purchase
a shotgun. On Dec. 10,1990, Gable pleaded guilty to a federal gun possession charge related to the shotgun.
He received an eight-year minimum sentence.
May 18 - A high-ranking FBI official in Washington, D.C., writes to Francke's sister, Ann, and tells her that
the bureau is looking into possible corruption within the Oregon prison system and any link to her brother's
death. Portland FBI officials later deny any such investigation took place.
May 24 - Frank Gable is in a Keizer home that is raided by police. It raises suspicions among the Salem-
area drug crowd that Gable is a police informant, although he later contends that he was not working for the
police at that time.
May 26 - Gable is arrested in Salem on a stolen car charge that is later dropped. While in the Marion
County jail, a state police detective questions Gable about Francke's death. Gable denies having any
knowledge about the killing.
May 28 - Mike Keerins, who is in the Marion County jail awaiting transfer to Idaho for a car theft charge
there, arranges through his girlfriend. Frances Jones, for Gable to place a three-way call to an unknown
woman from the jail. Jones later will tell police that she listened in and overheard Gable discuss Francke's
According to Mike Keerins, between Gable's arrest and subsequent release on May 30, Gable told him that he
May 30 - After a one-week trial, Elizabeth Godlove, 25, is acquitted of murdering Timothy Natividad. The
jury heard evidence from witnesses who contended that Natividad, a drug dealer, often threatened people with
knives and guns.
Webmaster update: The acquittal comes a mere four months from the date, Jan. 31, that Timothy
Natividad was killed. Godlove will soon enter into a personal relationship with Kevin Francke, brother
of Corrections Director Michael Francke, and in 1993 they will be married and spawn two children.
They remain married today.
June 7 - Crouse telephones Patrick Francke and tells him that he did not kill Michael Francke but says the
corrections chief was "on to something big."
Crouse says, "Two people paid for it to keep from losing their jobs."
June 13 - Accusations that the 1986 state police investigation of corruption and criminal activities at the
Corrections Department was ineffective and possibly a cover-up, prompt Goldschmidt to say of the reports,
"I'm getting fed up with the b.s. and the rumors.... Where does this garbage come from?"
June 14 - Patrick Francke says his brother may have been killed to hide corruption and drug trafficking at
the penitentiary, according to a story in the Statesman Journal. He says his brother was about to expose an
"organized criminal element" and that "heads were going to roll" in the corrections administration.
Patrick Francke says he bases his assumptions in part on the Jan. 13 telephone call to Katie Francke, as well
as information he is receiving from corrections employees and inmates. State police make no attempt to
contact Katie Francke about the call.
Oregonian columnist Phil Stanford also reports Patrick Francke's contentions and writes that Bingta Francke
told him that her late husband had called her shortly before his death. He told her that he was frightened and
had been firing a riot shotgun from their back porch in Scotts Mill, according to the column.
June 15 - Fred Pearce, who was named Francke's replacement as corrections chief in March, denies that
there is major corruption or drug trafficking at the penitentiary.
June 15 - Crouse asks for immunity from prosecution in exchange for information. He accuses two
penitentiary officials of multimillion-dollar corruption schemes.
Crouse says the officials offered to pay him to have Francke killed. One of the officials is the same man the
corrections officers accused of the murder and drug trafficking the day after the killing.
June 16 - Graffiti found on a parking structure pole reads: “Francke knew too much.”
The writing is accompanied by a crude drawing that depicts a five-pointed star, followed by an equal sign,
followed by a stick figure man and a knife.
Other words written on the pole included the words whores, cops, white slaves and welfare. The address of a
Center Street boarding house used primarily by state hospital patients and former prison inmates also was on
June 21 - The Oregon State Police release to the press the drawing of the well-dressed man in a
pin-stripe suit whom they have been seeking.
Sarah Moore, a deputy district attorney, says the drawing was not released earlier because the police wanted
to exhaust other leads first,
Penn tells Stanford, the Oregonian columnist, that the drawing was not released by the state police because it
was not very well done.
The man is described as 5-feet-10, about 180 pounds, with dark hair and mustache, and a dark or olive
Webmaster update: Meg Hanson, an employee working at the Dome Building the day of the murder,
contacted me in 2005. She claims this is the man who came to repair a broken copy machine...not
Dennis Plant, who testified he was the copy machine repairman.
June 26 - Michael Keerins is sent to the Idaho State Penitentiary.
July - Penn says that a number of corrections officials have been given lie-detector tests regarding their
possible involvement in the Francke murder. All passed, he says. What he doesn't say is that some of the initial
testing was inconclusive and that some of the officials were tested again — most of those tests indicating “no
consistent deceptive responses," which meant, the examiner said, that they were being truthful.
Webmaster update: George W. Maschke, Moderator/Administrator of the website AntiPolygraph.org,
made a comment on my website in 2005 regarding the above statement by Dale Penn stating, "given
the known inaccuracy of the polygraph, one would expect some of these 20 to fail, even if telling the
truth. Even if the polygraph were a 90% accurate truth test (as Mr. Penn, who should know better,
wrongly suggests), one would still expect at least one of the twenty to fail, even if truthful. The fact
that all "passed," if anything strongly suggests that someone was manipulating the results."
Several of the men tested also indicate that they have been kept up to date on the investigation's progress by
state police, including the comments Crouse made about corrections officials offering to pay him for the
July 13 - Gable reportedly tells Earl Childers, who had just escaped from the Corrections Department
restitution center, that two men were present when Francke was killed, but he did not elaborate. Childers
admits the story to police in December 1989 after denying it in several previous interviews.
July 14 - The Statesman Journal reports that the FBI is investigating a possible connection between drug
trafficking and corruption at the penitentiary with the death of Francke. The information came from an official
with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
July 15 - The FBI, in a morning press release, denies carrying out an investigation at the penitentiary. Later
that day, however, an FBI spokesman acknowledges that the bureau conducted an investigation into drug
trafficking at the penitentiary but says the investigation was separate from the Francke investigation.
July 15 - Gable tells Childers that he killed Francke during a car burglary, which Childers told the police in
December 1989. Childers also told police that he saw Gable on the Dome Building grounds on the evening
Francke was killed.
July 23 - Drug use in Oregon's prisons may be extensive, but it is not yet out of control, Pearce says in a
report to Goldschmidt.
July 25 - Corrections counselor John Lorance is interviewing penitentiary inmate Konrad Garcia, when
Garcia says that Tim Natividad killed Michael Francke.
Garcia said Natividad told him that he could get him released from the penitentiary if Garcia would kill Francke,
Lorance told police. According to court documents filed by Gable's defense lawyers in September 1990,
Garcia also said that the murder was arranged by Scott McAlister.
Garcia later told police that he thought Natividad matched the police drawing of the man in the pin-stripe suit.
July - Gable tells Mark Gesner, a drug dealer, that he killed Francke, according to a female friend of
Gesner's who says she overheard the conversation.
The woman told the police her information in September 1989 after seeing composite drawings of men wanted
for questioning in the case. One of the composites, she said, looked like Gable, and she then remembered
what she had heard.
Also in July, Gable reportedly tells other witnesses: "I know who did it, and they will be dead soon. Michael
Francke had his death coming to him."
The witnesses don't tell the police their information until many months later.
July 31 - Melody Garcia tells state police detective Kenneth Pecyna that she thinks Natividad was
responsible for Francke's death. She tells the Statesman Journal the story the next day.
Melody Garcia says she had suspected him but only was convinced after she saw the composite drawing,
which she contends looked like Natividad on several occasions when she saw him dressed up.
"And he had a pin-stripe suit," she says.
Because there is no collaborating witness statements her contentions are not immediately published.
Melody Garcia also tells the newspaper that Buck Burgess, who is her ex-husband and cousin, was a close
associate of Natividad.
Webmaster update: In March of 2007 I was contacted by Karie Rothschild-Roos. Ms. Roos is the
daughter of Melody Rothschild Garcia. During the course of a couple of weeks Ms. Rothschild-Roos
and I exchanged emails and conversed over the phone. Interestingly enough, that all came to an
abrupt halt after I sent an email in good faith to Kevin Francke enlightening him to the recent contact I
had made with Karie Rothschild-Roos.
Aug. 1 - The Salt Lake County Sheriffs office is asked to give Scott McAlister a lie-detector test. They
conclude that McAlister was truthful when he denied involvement in Francke's murder. Months later, when
McAlister becomes embroiled in controversy in Utah and reports of Oregon prison corruption reach Utah, Salt
Lake County officials complain that they weren't given enough information to properly test McAlister.
Early August - Gable reportedly tells Dan Walsh, who later becomes a prosecution witness, that he
killed Francke during a car burglary. Walsh did not tell his story to police until March 14,1990, after they had
grilled him several times in between.
Aug. 7 - Janyne and Frank Gable go back to North Bend. After arriving in North Bend, a state trooper
telephones Les Gederos' house and leaves a message with Janyne asking Frank Gable to take a polygraph
test about the Francke case.
When Frank gets the message, he threatens Janyne about turning him in, she later tells police.
Aug. 8 - Francke's family sues the state medical examiner for the full autopsy report.
Penn says releasing the autopsy report could seriously jeopardize a successful prosecution.
Aug. 13 - Michael Keerins writes to Frances Jones, who moved to Idaho to be near him. He writes:
■ "Why do you want to know about Michael Francke? Curiosity killed the cat, you know."
■ "Before you get told, you will have to swear it's forever cause you can never leave me knowing,”
Aug. 20 - Frances Jones tells police detectives that she lied in February 1989 when she told them that
Mike and Kris Keerins were at her house at 7 p.m. on the night Francke was killed. She says they didn't arrive
at her house until 8:30p.m.
Aug. 24 - Michael Keerins telephones Frances Jones from the Idaho prison and asks her to place a three-
way call to his mother.
Jones reportedly heard Keerins say, "He deserved what he got from them because he found out things that
were going on inside and who was involved in it."
Aug. 30 - Penn confirms that a grand jury has been meeting for several weeks to consider evidence in the
Aug. 31 - State police release three composite drawings, including the one previously released of the man
in the pin-stripe suit — simultaneously with their release by New Mexico state police officials. Maj. Renfrow
says the men are not considered suspects, but they may possess information.
Sept. 1 - Frances Jones tells police that she believes that Kris and Michael Keerins were involved in
Francke's murder. She contends that Mike Keerins told her that Francke deserved what he got because he
found out that the Keerins' brothers were sources of drug trafficking.
Sept. 5 - Salem legislators call for a legislative task force to look into the accusations made against the Corrections Department and possible links to Francke's death.
State Sen. C.T. "Cub" Houck, R-Salem, calls efforts by local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies
Sept. 6 - Saying he wants to clear the air of rumors, Goldschmidt appoints John Warden, a former Court of
Appeals judge, to head an independent investigation of the Corrections Department.
Warden also is asked to inquire into whether Francke's death is linked to charges against the department.
Goldschmidt angrily says it is time for the people making the accusations "to put up or shut up."
Sept. 10 - State treasurer Meeker, a former senate colleague of the late Sen. Day, tells the Statesman
Journal that Francke bought into corrections officer Larson's story of department corruption. Meeker says
Francke picked up the investigation where Day left off.
Sept. 13 - Corrections director Pearce says he will ask for an audit of the prison industries and inmate
accounts programs, which have been said to harbor wrongdoing. Included in the accusations is the fire, which
destroyed the industries warehouse in 1988, was set deliberately to cover up theft and/or an insurance
settlement. Pearce later expands the audits to include the department's farm annex and prison canteen
Sept. 13 - The state police, saying they just want to clear him in the case, give Frank Gable a lie-detector
test. He gives consistent deceptive responses when he denies stabbing Francke and denies knowing who did.
Gable, who contends to the police that he is being set up, says he knows someone named Buck who has
“Buck told him that Michael Francke was killed as a result of a hit from somebody who was in the Arizona
penitentiary,'' according to a police report.
Sept. 14 - Jeanne Schwartz testifies before the grand jury, which is looking at the evidence in the Francke
She tells the jurors that she was ordered by corrections staff to falsify and pad inventories, remove metal state
identification tags from furniture (making it difficult to track inventory) and sign for bills for which she had no
Sept. 15 - Kevin Francke testifies before the grand jury. He says the jurors seemed particularly interested
in his theories about a tie between the charges being made against the department and his brother's death.
Sept. 15 - Janyne Gable tells state police investigators that when Frank came home on Sept. 13, he
threatened to kill himself by jumping off a bridge. She says he also reportedly made the following comments:
■ "I know what really happened," but he would not elaborate.
■ "It was just another bullshit robbery."
■ “Don't you remember I was home that night?"
■ "I don't need money on death row."
Frank Gable is questioned a second time by police detectives. This interview lasts for 8 1/2 hours during which
Gable is visibly shaking at different times.
At one point, he curled up in a fetal position, crying and saying, "I don't know why you guys don't believe me. I
did not kill Michael Francke."
Gable tells the police that he suspects Burgess had something to do with the murder. He says he believes that
some “big shots” in the Corrections Department put out a contract to kill Francke.
That evening, Gable is arrested by Coos County deputies for the assault on his wife with the broken plate. He
is sentenced to a year in jail for the assault.
Sept. 15 - KOIN TV reports that the foreman of the grand jury that is looking at the evidence in the
Francke case is Thomas Denney, an assistant state attorney general. Denney was an associate of former
assistant state attorney general Scott McAlister.
District Attorney Penn says he doesn't think that there is a conflict of interest.
He later tells the Statesman Journal that the law would not allow the removal of Denney for conflict of interest,
although Denney could have stepped down.
McAlister tells the television station that Penn confirmed he passed the Salt Lake County lie-detector test.
Sept. 16 - At 1:30 a.m., after the 8 1/2-hour interview, Gable reportedly tells state police detectives, "Only
God and me know who killed Michael Francke."
Gable also tells police that he suspects that Michael Keerins has been spreading rumors that he killed Francke.
Gable says the reason is to get revenge on him for being a police informant.
Sept. 16 - Police, interview Janyne Gable for a second time. She tells them that she doesn't believe that
her husband killed Francke, but she does think that he knows who did kill Francke.
Sept. 18 - Police interview John Kevin Walker. He tells them that Gable had a pin-stripe suit and was using
a lot of methamphetamine in January, but Walker denies that Gable told him about the killing. Walker didn’t tell
the police that Gable admitted the murder to him until March 3, 1990.
Sept. 18 - Parole officer Lowell Kester is shown a picture of Gable by the state police but is unable to
identify him as the man who followed him from the Dome Building on Jan. 17, 1989. Several days later, Kester
sees the same photograph of Gable in the newspaper and decides he was the man.
Sept. 19 - Oregon State Police interview Mike Keerins at the Idaho penitentiary. Keerins says that Gable
told him while in the Marion County jail that he had killed Francke.
Keerins says that Gable told him, “I was getting ready to get into his car. A guy came from around the building.
The guy ran back toward the building to call the cops. I chased him. The guy grabbed at me…I had to stick
Sept. 20 - State police again interview Earl Childers. He denies being told about the killing.
Sept. 24 - Gable's brother-in-law, Randy Studer, who is in the Marion County jail charged with child sex
abuse, tells cellmate Montana Wayne Carver that Gable told him that he killed Francke.
Sept. 25 - Carver tells state police detective Glover what Studer reportedly said about Gable. Mark
Gesner's girlfriend tells state police investigators that she heard Gable tell Childers about the murder.
Sept. 26 - District Attorney Penn, Oregon Corrections Director Pearce and the director of the Idaho
Corrections Department enter an agreement to transfer Michael Keerins to Oregon in exchange for Keerins
testifying about Gable's involvement in the Francke killing.
Sept. 27 - State police detectives learn that Burgess may have more information about the Francke case
and ask him to take another lie-detector test. The test indicates that he is telling the truth when he denies
having been told about the murder by Gable or by anyone else.
Burgess went on to say that he thinks Gable could have committed the murder — the same comment he made
in February 1989 about the Keerins brothers.
Sept. 27 - State police interview Jodie Swearingen, 16, a Salem street kid with a history of run-ins with
She reportedly tells them that she met Gable during the summer of 1989 on the state hospital grounds and that
he was throwing a knife into the ground, mumbling, "You should have known better."
Sept. 28 - Bill Storm tells state police that he and Frank Gable were cellmates in the Marion County jail in
June 1989. He says Gable told him that the police could place him at the crime scene one half hour before the
The statement gives rise to the question of whether Gable was the man in the pin-stripe suit.
Sept. 28 - Police re-interview Swearingen. She reportedly tells them that the night she met Gable, he
asked her if she knew about the Francke murder.
Swearingen says she told him no and that he then said, “I can’t believe that I did it.”
Sept. 28 - The Statesman Journal reports that Gable worked for the Keizer Police Department in the
summer of 1989 and that the department paid his rent. According to the story, Gable told his landlord that he
was helping police catch gun-runners.
A Keizer police officer tells the newspaper that Gable was working with the department's narcotics team.
Sept. 30 - The Oregonian reports that the state police and FBI are embroiled in a dispute about whether
Crouse passed the lie-detector test he took in the spring about his confession. The state police say he passed
and the FBI examiner contends that Crouse failed the test when he admitted killing Francke.
Oct. 6 - State police Maj. Renfrow releases the second set of reports from the 1986 investigation, including
Sen. Day's letter alleging a cover-up of corruption. Renfrow denies that there was a cover-up.
Oct. 7 - Jodie Swearingen tells an acquaintance that she was on the scene and "saw Michael Francke get
killed." She does not give a name of the killer but says he was her lover, and "he said he would kill her just like
he killed the other guy” if she talked.
Oct. 9 - Linda Perkins tells the state police about the December 1988 party at Studer's house in which she
overheard the men plotting to kill Francke.
Oct. 10 - State police interview Studer. He denies having any knowledge that Gable killed Francke.
Oct. 10 - An Oregon State Penitentiary corrections officer is told by Pat and Kris Keerins that their brother,
Michael, is lying about his knowledge of the Francke murder.
Oct. 13 — Chris Warila, a former drug trafficking partner of Gable, tells police that Gable told him that he
stabbed somebody twice in a parking lot.
Oct. 15 - Mike Keerins writes to his brothers Pat, Kris and Kim in the penitentiary. He tells them that Gable
"ratted" on more than 30 people while working for the Keizer police, and Gable told him that he had killed
"Now the rat knows what it's like to be ratted on," Mike Keerins wrote.
Oct. 16 - Police arrest Jodie Swearingen. She is crying and says that she fears for her life. Swearingen,
who is living with drug trafficker Cappie "Shorty" Harden, reportedly tells police a new story.
This time, according to police reports, she says she met Gable on the evening of Jan. 17,1989, near state
hospital grounds. He asked her to come with him to the grounds to help him burglarize a warehouse. She says
Oct. 25 - Swearingen tells two male acquaintances that Gable killed Francke. She says he was hired to do
the murder. She says she was nearby and saw the killing. The men tell the police the next day.
She also tells a female acquaintance that she saw the murder. She doesn't name anyone but says her
boyfriend was involved.
Nov. 1 - Swearingen, crying, tells a juvenile corrections employee, "this time I'm either an accomplice or an
accessory to murder."
Nov. 3 - Gable contacts the state police. He tells them that he wants to help find the real murderer. He
■ He didn't kill Francke but is close to the person who did.
■ The police have a leak close to the investigation who feeds a friend of his with information.
■ The Francke murder was a paid killing.
The way to do it, he says, would be to bring an inmate out of the penitentiary to do the killing, put him back in
the prison, parole him later and pay him off.
Nov. 8 - Former corrections officer Merchant tells the legislative committee members at their first hearing
about widespread thefts, drug trafficking and violations of Corrections Department rules.
However, Maj. Renfrow tells the committee that police investigators found isolated instances of wrongdoing but
no widespread corruption. On the other hand, he said under questioning, that the police in 1986 were only
responding to individual charges and not looking for a conspiracy.
There now are 14 separate inquiries of the department, including the audits, the Francke investigation,
Warden's investigation, drug trafficking assessments and the committee hearings.
Nov. 9 - State police re-interview Bill Storm. He tells them that Gable told him that he killed Francke trying
to find guns in corrections officials' cars. He also says Swearingen told him that she had seen Gable "do
something terrible" at the state hospital.
A lie-detector test indicates that Storm is lying. A month later he admitted that he lied about Gable's
Nov. 11 - The juvenile corrections employee is told by a juvenile inmate that Swearingen saw the killing and
told her that she saw blood "all over her boyfriend's hands."
Nov. 12 - Pearce confirms that state police are again looking into charges that the industries warehouse
was burned to cover-up thefts. Officials with the state fire marshal's office and Risk Management Division,
which insures state buildings say they are suspicious about the fire's cause.
Nov. 18 - Sen. Jim Hill, a Democrat, accuses top state Democratic
leaders — including Goldschmidt — of trying to suppress and delay a legislative committee's inquiry into
Corrections Department wrongdoing.
Goldschmidt denies the accusation.
Nov. 22 - Police arrest Janyne Gable for possession of methamphetamine; she was found guilty and was
put on probation.
Nov. 29 - While campaigning for governor in Roseburg, Attorney General Dave Frohnmayer, a Republican,
says Goldschmidt should have moved faster to address concerns about corruption in the Corrections
"As soon as all these allegations came up, I would have moved," Frohnmayer said. "I would have put them to
Nov. 30 - Unaware of Frohnmayer's comments, legislative committee members question why Frohnmayer,
who has the duty to investigate charges of wrongdoing by public employees, took no action in 1986 or in the
Spokeswoman Maria Rae says her boss Frohnmayer was unaware of the allegations in 1986 and was
confident of the state police investigations.
Nov. 30 - Crouse meets with the state police and a representative of the Marion County district attorney.
They agree to give him immunity from a charge of hindering prosecution in exchange for testifying truthfully at the grand
Nov 30 - Studer again denies to the police that Gable confessed the killing to him. A week later, he denies
such knowledge for a third time; he doesn't implicate Gable until Feb. 28, 1990.
Dec. 5 - Childers tells police that Gable admitted the murder to him and Gesner. He tells them he also saw
Gable drive away from state hospital grounds on the night of the murder.
Dec. 15 - Warden releases his report, saying in part:
■ Corrections officials and employees appear to be involved in significant illegal activities, although the
investigation did not uncover an "organized, sinister conspiracy."
■ The state police and the department's internal affairs office do not have the resources to properly investigate
■ Drug trafficking in the prisons constitutes a problem "of significant magnitude."
■ Although inmates, staff and others advanced plausible scenarios regarding reasons for Francke's murder, the
statements could not be corroborated.
But Warden saying that he only had three months and a limited staff to investigate these charges, warned that
the possibility of a link between Francke's death and department wrongdoing should not be ruled out.
Warden's report is turned over to Pearce and the state police for follow-up investigation.
Dec. 21 - Mark Gesner tells another inmate on the way to the Newport County jail that Francke was killed
by someone who was breaking into his car.
Dec. 22 - Gable tells state police detectives that he was at a friend's house on the night of the murder.
Late December - Scott McAlister resigns from his job as inspector general of the Utah Department of
Corrections, amid allegations of sexual harassment and that he helped cover-up the abuse of inmates in the
The woman who filed the sexual harassment charge, Linda Parker, will win a $95,000 settlement from the state
in September 1990.
Jan. 18 - Francke's two brothers, Patrick and Kevin, come to Salem to receive the full autopsy report. The
Francke's Salem lawyer, Steven Krasik, had threatened to subpoena Gov. Goldschmidt to the civil trial to testify
about what he might have been told about the autopsy when he went to the murder scene at 3 a.m., Jan.
18,1989. Several days later the state Attorney General's office agreed to release the report provided the family
kept the information to themselves.
After receiving the report, the brothers say the report does not indicate any mutilation of Michael Francke, a
rumor that had persisted almost from the first day of the investigation.
Jan. 19 - Cappie "Shorty" Harden is arrested for a number of outstanding drug and gun warrants. He tells
state police that two people were involved in the killing and that it wasn't planned.
Swearingen tells the police that Gable and John Bender, another member of the Salem drug crowd, were
involved in Francke's killing.
Jan. 28 - The Statesman Journal reports that the trail to Francke's murder appears to be heading into the
Salem methamphetamine trafficking crowd.
The story reports the connection of several methamphetamine traffickers including Harden and Gable.
Jan. 31 - Daniel Longoria Sr., a convicted major cocaine dealer in the Portland area, tells state police that a
former corrections officer, who was implicated in the 1986 investigation, and two men he recognized as former
inmates asked him to arrange Francke's murder.
The men were worried that Francke was digging up corruption and criminal activities that could be traced back
to them and others, Longoria says.
Among the men's concerns: Francke had discovered that convicts were paying to be released from prison
early. A police lie-detector indicated that Longoria was being deceptive.
Longoria entered into the Federal Witness Protection program related to his cocaine case, which is designed to
give new identities and relocate government witnesses in major cases. He attempted to contact the Statesman
Journal in the spring of 1991 about his contentions but was told by his lawyer that it might jeopardize his federal
standing, so he canceled the interview.
Webmaster update: After Scott McAlister was convicted in October 1990 of Distribution of
Pornographic Material, a complaint was lodged with the Oregon Bar. A hearing was held to decide if
disciplinary action should be taken. If the bar concluded McAlister's offense involved moral turpitude
a sanction would be imposed. The bar indeed concluded the offense involved moral turpitude and
ordered a public reprimand as the appropriate sanction.
Late January - Cappie Harden calls the Statesman Journal and offers an eyewitness exclusive on the
Francke murder in exchange for bailing him out of jail.
"I'm the county's million dollar baby; without me they don't have a case," he says. "You might say Keerins is
out the door, and I'm in."
Feb. 5 - Swearingen tells police her fourth story. She now says that on Jan. 17, 1989, Gable asked her if
she knew anyone interested in "snitch papers" — official documents that would identify police informants.
Swearingen says she left Bender's house with Gable but asked Cappie Harden to pick her up later, according
to police reports. Harden reportedly asked her where and Gable responded, "At the Dome Building."
Swearingen tells police that on arriving at the Dome Building she stood as a lookout near the north porch
where Francke's body was later found. She tells them that she heard the porch door open but isn’t clear
whether she saw Gable enter the building.
Swearingen says she heard the porch door open again and saw Francke, who walked across the lawn to his
car. She tells police that she saw Gable and Francke struggling near the car. Then Harden pulled up and she
jumped in his car, and they drove off.
Feb. 7 - Citing marital problems, Gov. Neil Goldschmidt withdraws from the governor’s race.
Feb. 11 - The Statesman Journal publishes the first interview with Gable, who says he is being framed by
Salem drug and gun traffickers who are trying to get him for being an informant and to get deals from the
The police have told him they think that he is Francke's killer, Gable says.
They are frustrated and trying to railroad him so they can wrap up the case, he says.
During the interview, Gable tells the newspaper that in the summer of 1989, a Natividad brother approached
him and other members of the drug crowd trying to sell a computer and computer disks.
Gable said that later the word on the streets was there was a $10,000 reward for the return of the disks and
that "one man had already died" because of the disks.
Feb. 13 - Randy Studer pleads guilty to sodomizing a young boy.
Feb. 13 - State police interview John Kevin Walker who denies discussing the Francke murder with Gable,
Feb. 20 - State police interview Janyne Gable who tells them that in January 1989, Gable had a device
that would allow access to cars with alarm systems such as the one Francke had.
Feb. 22 - Studer tells another inmate that Gable told him he was going to "take out Francke" before the
murder and later told him he had done just that.
Studer says Harden and Swearingen were witnesses.
Feb. 22 - Walker tells state police detectives that in October 1989, Gable began telling him that he was
going to kill "the Dude Man."
Feb. 25 - Michael Keerins tells the Statesman Journal that Gable told him that he killed Francke during a
car burglary but didn't say if anyone else was involved.
Keerins said Gable was an enforcer — someone who collects on drug debts — for a major drug dealer while
at the farm annex in 1985.
Natividad could not have stabbed Francke, said Keerins, who described Natividad as his drug-dealing partner.
He said that Natividad was at a party at Buck Burgess' house at the time of the murder.
After the story was published, Pat Keerins called the Statesman Journal and said his brother, Michael, told him
that he was lying about Gable and was just trying to collect a reward.
Feb. 28 - Harden is taken to the Salem hospital for surgery on his right hand by Marion County deputies.
One of the deputies heard Harden, who was coming out of the anesthetic, say that he would be "getting out as
soon as he hung a murder rap on Frank Gable."
Feb. 28 - Studer tells the police that Gable told him he killed someone at the state hospital.
March 3 - The state police interview Walker again, who tells them that Gable said he had a job to do that
involved "the dude man of the joint." Gable later told him that he had killed the man.
Walker names another drug dealer he says he thinks may have hired Gable to kill Francke.
March 6 - Walker tells police that Gable purchased the .357 handgun to back up the job he had to do and
that Gable confessed that he killed Francke by stabbing him. He also repeats his contentions about the other
drug dealer's involvement.
Jan. 12 - McAlister returns to Salem to testify before the legislative committee that is looking into the
charges of wrongdoing at the Corrections Department. He said he was unaware of any such activities.
Several days later, FBI agents raid McAlister's Salt Lake City home and seize pornographic videos, including
two kiddie porn videos that had been removed from Oregon evidence files by McAlister and not returned.
March 7 - Drug trafficking — including its' corruptive influence on corrections officers — is a substantial
problem within Oregon's prisons, according to the newly appointed corrections ombudsman Darryl Larson.
Pearce angrily denies that there is a major drug problem in the prisons.
March 8 - Swearingen tells the state police that she was with Gable when he killed Francke.
March 14 - Dan Walsh, who was one of the men at Studer's party in December 1988, tells police that he
had a knife that Gable told him he used to kill Francke. Walsh tells them that Gable killed Francke during a car
burglary and had threatened to kill him if he talked.
March 16 - Richard Welch, a Marion County jail inmate, writes to Gable to tell him that Keerins admitted
to him that he was accusing Gable to get reward money and for revenge for Gable being a Keizer police
informant. State police seized the letter before it was delivered.
March 16 - Richard Fore tells the state police that he was in the same criminal crowd as Harden and that
there had been talk of killing Francke because Francke had discovered a large methamphetamine trafficking
operation. Detective Glover dismissed Fore's statement as imagination.
March 31 - A consultant hired to examine drug use in Oregon's prisons said he found strong evidence of
persistent use of marijuana, amphetamines, cocaine and heroin. Pearce attacks the report as "less than
valuable." He denies that there is evidence of heroin use in the prison.
April 6 - A Marion County special grand jury indicts Gable for the murder of Michael Francke. The secret
indictment charges him with six counts of aggravated murder, punishable by death, and one count of murder,
punishable by life in prison.
The different counts represent different murder theories presented by prosecutors to the grand jury. The
theories range from Gable killing Francke during a car burglary to killing him in connection to Francke's job as
the state's top prison official.
April 8 - State police arrest Frank Gable for the murder of Michael Francke.
They drive him north toward Salem, stopping for five hours in Florence and 45 minutes in Springfield to
question him. In Springfield, Gable ends the questioning by demanding a lawyer.
At different points during the interviews, Gable denied involvement in the killing but says, "Only me and God"
know who killed Francke. Gable is held overnight in the Lane County jail.
April 9 - Gable is arraigned in Marion County Circuit Court before Judge Greg West. Deputy district
attorneys Sarah Moore and Tom Bostwick, who will prosecute Gable, name eight material witnesses —
witnesses considered essential to their case and at risk to flee. The witnesses are: Cappie Harden, Jodie.
Swearingen, Earl Childers. John Kevin Walker, Randy Studer, Dan Walsh, Mark Gesner and Michael Keerins.
Most are already either in jail or face charges for unrelated crimes.
April 12 - Prosecution witness Walker, who is back in prison on a gun charge, complains to the Statesman
Journal that police investigators refuse to look into, or even note, his allegations that Gable must have been
tipped off about Francke by corrections officials. He says he thinks that Gable planned to rob Francke but not
April 20 - Walker is struck by an inmate, breaking his jaw, while another inmate threatens him for being an
informant. Walker blames unnamed corrections officials for setting him up because of his comments in the newspaper.
April 17 - The Statesman Journal reports that despite his denials, Penn told the parents of Michael
Francke that the grand jury believed that their son might have been killed for something he had in his briefcase.
April 18 - State police say they are unable to substantiate charges that property was stolen from the
industries warehouse before it burned to the ground in July 1988.
But the new corrections ombudsman, John Hoover, a former Multnomah deputy district attorney who replaced
Larson, says the police investigation stopped short. He says they failed to look into whether the fire was
caused by arson; there was a motive to burn the warehouse; or the department was overpaid for the
warehouse and lost inventory.
April 21 - The body of Frank J. Thompson, 45. who worked for the state Department of Insurance and
Finance, is pulled from the Willamette River. He had been missing for weeks.
Police contend that he jumped or fell from a railroad trestle after wandering around downtown Salem, dazed
because of a blow he received falling down stairs. In the weeks that follow, however, it is revealed that
Thompson had approached then-Ethics Director Betty Reynolds about information he had that Francke was
working to uncover corruption in his department. Police say they investigated the possible connection but could
find no evidence of a link.
The two witnesses who reportedly told police they saw someone matching Thompson's description fall from a
railroad trestle into the river cannot be found later by investigators. The police reports, for unknown reasons,
do not indicate date of birth or addresses. The mysteries surrounding Thompson's death, adds to the Francke
family's contentions that there is a conspiracy to hide the motive for Michael Francke's murder.
Webmaster update: For a more in-depth perspective on Frank Thompson's death click the link below...
April 27 - Jan Margosian, who works for the Department of Justice, tells Randy Martinek, a Department
of Justice investigator who has been partly involved in the Francke case, that one of her secretaries was at a
party where a drug dealer bragged about having Francke's coat and ring.
In March 1991, a woman tells Francke family lawyer Steven Krasik that Martinek "has a confession in his
pocket" from someone other than Gable.
May 5 - Janyne Gable admits to state police investigators that she still has keys to state hospital buildings,
according to a police report. She tells them that Gable could have had access to the key, which would have
allowed him access to the Dome Building through the basement.
May 20 - The Statesman Journal reports that crime scene and autopsy photographs reveal that Francke
had several wounds that are inexplicably absent from a state medical examiner's autopsy report.
According to the photographs, there were — as the Francke family members and the funeral director in New
Mexico who buried him had contended for months — a large bruise and lumps on the top of Francke's head.
The apparent blow to the head, which might indicate more than one attacker or at least a different scenario
than proposed by the prosecution, was not noted in the autopsy.
State medical examiner Larry Lewman at first refused to discuss the autopsy, but days later, he said the
bruise and lump was post-death swelling caused when Francke's head lay against a part of the gurney used
to carry his body.
Defense expert witnesses disagree with Lewman in part because Francke's body wasn't placed on the gurney
for five hours after it was found.
In July, Bob Abel, one of Gable's two defense lawyers, says the controversial autopsy is sure to become a
significant issue in the trial.
May 27 — For the first time, the Statesman Journal reports the allegations of Natividad's possible
connection to the Francke case, quoting the Garcias and Gable.
The story also notes the increasing number of connections being made between the murder and missing
documents or computer files, in which Natividad plays a part.
An investigator for the state Ethics Commission is among those who contend that there may be a link between
the murder and computerized information Francke may have possessed. The investigator says confidential
witnesses have told him that the attacker was after the information in Francke's briefcase or car when he was
The next day, a Salem businessman tells the newspaper that he thinks that the computer Gable referred to in
his contentions about Natividad was actually taken from his office. He said the drug crowd somehow had
received the impression that it was connected to the Francke case.
June - State police finish their follow-up investigation into Warden's allegations. They announce a handful of
criminal activities substantiated, but report that most of the more than 180 allegations were unsubstantiated or
unfounded. Pearce contends that the report absolves the department of major corruption or wrongdoing by
But state auditors, who had worked with the state police, tell the Statesman Journal in 1991 that there was
evidence supporting many of the unsubstantiated allegations but not enough to win a court case. They say
they were told by the Department of Corrections that they could not follow up on some allegations because of
July 11 - The Statesman Journal reports that according to police records, the first drops of blood from
Francke are more than 85 feet from where prosecution witnesses Harden and Swearingen told police the
attack occurred at his car.
If Harden and Swearingen were telling the truth, the blood trail indicates that Francke would have moved from
his car first toward the main doors of the Dome Building, then reversed his direction and up a flight of stairs to
the north porch where he died.
The Francke brothers theorize that Michael Francke may have been attacked at one place and then prevented
from reaching the main doors, hence the change of direction. They believe that it indicates the attack lasted
longer than the prosecution contends and that more than one assailant was involved.
July 21 - Gable's lawyers file a motion asking for the case against Gable to be dismissed.
The motion contends that there was a friendship and professional relationship between the grand jury foreman
Thomas H. Denney, an assistant state attorney general, and Scott McAlister. Abel contends that Denney may
have had incentive to protect his boss, Frohnmayer, from being associated with accusations that have swirled
Frohnmayer calls Abel's motion preposterous; the motion eventually is withdrawn.
Aug. 5 - The Statesman Journal reports on contradictions in the multiple stories prosecution witnesses
have given the police before they went to the grand jury.
Included in the contradictions: Swearingen, who was 16 at the time of Francke's murder, said she saw Gable
attack Francke away from the car;
Harden, who says he was only on the scene to pick up Swearingen, says Gable came from inside Francke's
car when he attacked and knocked Francke to the ground. There was no evidence — blood or smudges —
indicating Francke was knocked down near his car despite the stab wounds and various cuts on his hands and
fingers, according to police reports.
Medical experts contacted by Patrick Francke say it would have been almost impossible for Francke to have
been so badly wounded at the spot where the prosecution witnesses contend and then make all the
movements indicated by his blood trail.
Webmaster update: On June 14, 2005, the Portland Tribune published a front page article entitled
"Eyewitness Recants." The article was written by Tribune reporter Jim Redden after conducting a
series of interviews with Harden. Those interviews were made possible by Rob Taylor after locating and
befriending Harden approximately one month earlier. An excerpt of the article is as follows...
Cappie “Shorty” Harden, the state’s only sworn eyewitness against Frank Gable in the murder of Oregon
Corrections Director Michael Francke, told the Portland Tribune on Sunday that he did not see Gable kill
The Sunday interview was arranged by Rob Taylor, a Portland man who operates www.freefrankgable.com,
an Internet Web site devoted to proving Gable’s innocence. Taylor paid Harden $1,000 for the on-the-record
interview that he made available to the Portland Tribune. (The Tribune does not pay for interviews and did
not pay Harden.) Although the Portland Tribune had a number of background discussions with Harden in the
weeks leading up to the on-the-record interview, Harden limited the actual on-the-record questions to his trial
testimony against Gable.
"The $1,000 came from Kevin and Patrick Francke, the brothers of the slain corrections chief," Taylor said,
although they were not at the interview and are not involved with Taylor’s Web site. The Francke brothers
have long believed that Gable did not kill Michael Francke, arguing that the slaying may have been a plot by
corrupt corrections officials who were concerned that Francke was about to blow the whistle on them. As of
press time, the brothers had never met or talked with Harden.
The truth of the matter is that Kevin Francke did have a significant involvement with me and my
website for approximately nine months preceding Harden's interview in that he was feeding me case
information on a daily basis. Kevin and his brother Patrick met with me just prior to the on the record
interview with Harden to discuss how much they were going to pay Harden. An amount of $3,000 was
decided upon with $1000 paid up front and the remaining $2000 to be paid the following day.
Essentially the Francke bothers used me as their middleman for their negotiation with Harden as both
refused to meet with Harden themselves. I'll leave you the reader to decide why the Tribune felt it
necessary to lie about the amount, and report I paid Harden, knowing full well the Franckes' did, yet
quoting me as a means to report that fact.
Ironically, Frank Gable's sister, Francine Sinnett, accused me of screwing things up for her brother
because Shorty was paid for his interview. Her accusation did not include the Francke brothers.
To this day neither brother has defended me over this ridiculous accusation. Instead I'm accused by
Kevin Francke of not giving Shorty the full $3000. Yet another example of how this case mysteriously
makes antagonists of natural allies.
Sept. 5 - Elizabeth Godlove, the woman who killed Natividad in self-defense, tells defense lawyer Abel that
she thinks Natividad killed Francke.
She tells Abel that Natividad told her a short time after Francke's death that he killed a man, that he began
using more drugs and that he showed increasingly paranoid behavior — telling her that people were out to kill
She says she became convinced of Natividad's role after reading about the Garcias' comments from a pretrial
hearing several days earlier, in which Abel attempted, for the first time, to bring Natividad into the case as a
potential alternative suspect. The attempt was turned down by Judge West.
Godlove also says she was convinced because Natividad matched the police drawing of the man in the pin-
stripe suit, a type of suit she says Natividad owned.
Sept. 7 - The manager of the Oregon State Penitentiary canteen, one of the four audited prison programs,
resigns after being confronted about $14,000 missing from inmate accounts. Manager Mike Mills, who refuses
to comment, was responsible for setting aside checks, money orders and cash for inmates.
A criminal investigation is launched by state police.
Sept. 9 - With all the people walking or driving through the area; if Michael Francke was attacked by his
car in the Dome Building parking lot, as law enforcement officials contend, the attack must have happened
quickly because it barely received notice, according to a special report in the Statesman Journal.
The report — pieced together from witness accounts and police reports, recounts what was occurring at what
times near the scene, such as different men seen running from the area, conflicting eyewitness accounts and
other statements given to police, and the initial search for Francke.
In the report, several people raise an alternate scenario that Francke initially may have been abducted and
later brought back to the scene where he was killed. Hence, the reason why no one except prosecution
witnesses Harden and Swearingen — and Swearingen later recanted her statement — can say they saw
Francke attacked or walking away wounded.
The district attorney's office has derided the abduction scenario. Nevertheless, state police detective Loren
Glover and corrections administrator Dave Caulley went to Francke's house in Scotts Mills, a 25-minute drive,
at 4:18 a.m. and remained there for two hours after Francke's body was discovered.
In the report, Penn says police have still not been able to firmly identify the man in the pin-stripe suit.
Sept. 19 - Prosecution witness Jodie Swearingen recanted her grand jury statement that placed Frank
Gable on the scene as Francke's attacker to an investigator for Gable's defense lawyers.
Swearingen, who was released from confinement after signing an agreement with the prosecution to check in
weekly, flees the state saying she is afraid of police retribution, for recanting.
In the days leading up to her arrest in Denver and subsequent return to Oregon, Swearingen tells the
Statesman Journal that she lied about Gable to protect someone and that she was not even at the scene.
She also accused the police of coaxing an incriminating statement out of her through more than 40 interviews
and 17 lie-detector tests. And she says she was allowed by state police, and deputy district attorney Sarah
Moore to meet with Harden to get their stories straight just minutes before testifying to the grand jury that
Police and Penn deny that Swearingen was coaxed into her statement. They acknowledge that she was
allowed to meet with Harden but say the two were told not to discuss the case.
Sept. 21 - Frances Jones, the girlfriend who followed Michael Keerins to Idaho, tells the Statesman
Journal that she overheard Gable talking about Francke's murder when she listened to his June 1989
But she still contends that she is suspicious about the involvement of Michael and Kris Keerins.
Oct. 1 - The Corrections Department prison industries program is blasted in an audit report for poor
management, poor accounting, questionable business practices, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of
missing inventory, and violations of state and federal laws.
It is the fourth and last of the audits of prison programs conducted by the Secretary of State's Audits Division.
All of the audits knocked the programs accounting procedures, making it difficult to assess if there was any
criminal wrongdoing. There are few criminal cases taken under investigation by the state police, except for
canteen manager Mills.
Oct. 13 - Scott McAlister, the former Oregon deputy attorney general and former inspector general of the
Utah Corrections Department, pleads guilty to a reduced misdemeanor charge of distributing child
pornography. He gets seven days in the Salt Lake County jail. As of 1991, he still is being kept up to date, on
the Francke investigation by detective Glover.
Oct. 21-22 - In a two-day series in the Statesman Journal, Janyne Gable discusses her life with Frank
Gable and how she became a potential prosecution witness against her husband.
She would not talk about specifics of what Gable may have told her about the murder, but she does say that
she did not think he was the killer until after a series of marathon interview sessions with the state police in the
fall of 1989.
Nov. 10-12 - Katie Francke discusses the Jan. 13,1989, telephone call with Michael Francke for the first
time with the Statesman Journal. She still has not been asked to discus the conversation by the state police.
Feb. 7 - Jose C. Navarro, an inmate at the Marion County jail, is found hanging in his cell. He is a former
suspect in the Francke murder investigation. His death is ruled a suicide even though his cellmate "slept"
through the whole affair.
Penn acknowledges that Navarro — known also by the street name "Diablo," which is Spanish for devil — was
among the many people brought to police attention, but discounts any connection between his death and
Several days after Navarro's death, a woman calls the Statesman Journal and, sobbing hysterically, says,
"This killing over the Francke thing has got to stop."
Feb. 12 - About 3,000 Marion County residents are sent summonses to appear as potential jurors in the
murder trial of Frank E. Gable.
March 4 - Only about 600 people show up for the first day of jury selection.
March 10 - Jodie Swearingen says the person she was trying to protect when she lied about Gable was
Timothy D. Natividad — her former best friend and lover, according to a report in the Statesman Journal.
"Frank (Gable) is a snitch, and all snitches deserve to die. But I'm not going to lie for the police anymore to do
it," she says when asked about her recanting.
Swearingen, 18, says that based on their behavior and her gut feelings, Natividad and Harden, who is another
former lover, were involved in the killing.
Penn says he thinks that Swearingen, who is being held in the Marion County jail as a reluctant prosecution
witness, is changing her story so as not to be labeled a snitch by the Salem drug crowd.
April 4 - Nine inmates are indicted for heroin trafficking at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem.
Although it is the second major ring broken up by police and corrections investigators — a methamphetamine
smuggling ring was discovered at Oregon State Correctional Institution months earlier, corrections officials
deny that there is a major drug trafficking problem in the prisons.
John Foote, the corrections inspector general whose office assists in the investigations, described the heroin
smuggled as being small amounts. He did acknowledge that the drug sells for 10 times its street value in the
The Statesman Journal learned several days later that the heroin ring is connected to a larger multi-state
April 9 - At a pretrial hearing between prospective juror questioning, Judge West rules that state police did
not coerce statements from Gable after his April 8,1990, arrest and subsequent transport from the Coos Bay
jail to Salem. West calls the attempts to get statements "good police work.”
Defense lawyer Abel had said that the marathon trip to Salem amounted to physical and psychological
April 13 - A knife that closely matches the characteristics of the weapon used to kill Francke has been
found among the personal possessions of Natividad, according to a defense evidence expert.
Former inmate Greg Johnson, one of Natividad's associates, told defense investigators and the state police
that he purchased the knife for Natividad in late 1988.
April 16 - Judge West rules that the defense can take Natividad's knives to California for testing by their experts.
Although West cautions that he is not convinced of Natividad's relevance to the Francke case, he notes that the
prosecution did take steps to secure the knives and investigate Johnson's allegations in connection with the Francke case.
April 18 - After six weeks, defense and prosecution lawyers agree on a nine-woman, three-man jury for
Gable's trial. However, they still face the task of picking four alternate jurors, which is expected to delay the
trial by one more week.
April 22 - Michael A. Mills, the former penitentiary canteen manager, is arraigned on charges of
aggravated theft and official misconduct. The indictment accuses him of taking more than $10,000 from inmate
He pleads innocent to the charges.
April 24 - The last of the four alternate jurors is selected, completing the process. To date, the state
police investigation has cost about $900,000, including detective salaries. Figures are not available for the
district attorney, although Moore has been assigned to the case almost full-time and Bostwick also came on in
1989. Abel will not release defense figures until after the trial, but sources expect that to cost taxpayers at
least another $1 million.
April 26 - The jury views the Dome Building and is sworn in. Opening statements are set for Wednesday, May 1.
Written by Steven P. Jackson 4-28-91