Franklin Delano Floyd

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Franklin Delano Floyd
Franklin Delano Floyd and Sharon Marshall.jpeg
Family photo of Floyd and Sharon Marshall/Suzanne Marie Sevakis
Born (1943-06-17) June 17, 1943 (age 75)
NationalityAmerican
Other namesWarren Judson Marshall
Clarence Marcus Hughes
Trenton Davis
Preston Morgan
Kingfish Floyd[1]
Spouse(s)Sharon Marshall (1989–1990; her death)
Conviction(s)Murder of Cheryl Ann Commesso, kidnapping of Michael Anthony Hughes
Criminal penaltyDeath
Imprisoned atUnion Correctional Institution

Franklin Delano Floyd (born June 17, 1943) is an American death row inmate. He was convicted of the 1989 murder of Cheryl Ann Commesso, a mother of three from Florida, as well as the kidnapping of his 6-year-old stepson from his elementary school in Choctaw, Oklahoma. Floyd is also considered a person of interest in the 1990 hit-and-run death of his wife Sharon Marshall. It was later discovered that before becoming his wife, Sharon had been raised by Floyd from an early age as his daughter and was herself kidnapped by Floyd as a child.

Sharon's true identity remained a mystery until 2014, when she was positively identified as Suzanne Marie Sevakis, the daughter of a woman to whom Floyd was briefly married. He disappeared with Suzanne, her two sisters and infant brother while her mother was serving a 30-day jail sentence in 1975. Suzanne's brother has never been located.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Floyd was born in Barnesville, Georgia, the youngest of five children belonging to Thomas and Della Floyd. Shortly after Floyd's first birthday, his alcoholic father died from kidney and liver failure. His mother struggled to make a living on her own and was eventually forced to give up her children.[4]

In 1946, Floyd and his siblings were put into the care of Georgia Baptist Children's Home in Hapeville. There, Floyd was bullied by other children for being "feminine" and later reported to have been sodomized with a broomstick when he was six years old. He was also subjected to harsh punishments by the staff; as a teenager, his hand was dipped into hot water after he was caught masturbating. Floyd often got in trouble for fighting and stealing. In 1959, the Children's Home put Floyd into the custody of his sister Dorothy after he ran away and broke into a nearby house to steal food.[4]

After being kicked out of his sister's home, Floyd traveled to Indianapolis to search for his mother Della, only to learn that she had become a prostitute. Floyd had Della help him forge legal documents allowing him to go to California to enlist in the U.S. Army. However, the Army discharged Floyd six months into his service after discovering that he was underage and that his papers were falsified.[4] After being unable to find his mother again, Floyd traveled across the country as a drifter. Della eventually died on July 2, 1968 and is buried in Graceland Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois.[citation needed]

Criminal history[edit]

On February 19, 1960, at age sixteen, Floyd broke into a Sears department store in Inglewood, California to steal a gun. Police quickly responded to a burglar alarm, resulting in a shootout in which Floyd was shot in the stomach. He survived following emergency surgery. After recovering, he was sent to a youth institution for a year. In 1961, he was arrested for violating his parole by going on a fishing trip in Canada with a friend.[4]

In May 1962, Floyd returned to Hapeville and found a job at Atlanta International Airport. The following month, he abducted a four year old from a local bowling alley and sexually assaulted her in the nearby woods. Floyd was convicted of kidnapping and child molestation, and was sentenced to serve ten to twenty years at the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville. That November, he was moved to the Milledgeville State Hospital for psychiatric testing.[4]

While being taken out for a medical errand in 1963, Floyd escaped and fled to Macon, where he robbed over $6,000 from a branch of the Citizens & Southern National Bank. He was convicted of the robbery and was sentenced to the Federal Reformatory in Chillicothe, Ohio. After a second escape attempt, he was transferred to the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.[4] There, he was continuously raped by other inmates, causing him to climb a roof at the prison and threaten to commit suicide at one point. After being sent to the federal penitentiary in Marion, Illinois, Floyd was sent back to the Georgia State Prison in 1968, and befriended a fellow inmate named David Dial.

In November 1972, Floyd was released from prison and sent to a halfway house. On January 27, 1973, a week after he was released from the halfway house, he approached a woman at a gas station and forced her into her car, where he attempted to grope and sexually assault her. The woman managed to escape and Floyd was arrested. Floyd convinced Dial, who had also been released from prison, to post his bond, allowing him to go on the run as a fugitive. When he failed to show up for court on June 11, 1973, a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Encounter with Sandi Chipman[edit]

In 1974, Floyd, using the alias "Brandon Williams," met a woman named Sandi Chipman at a North Carolina truck stop. Chipman was the mother of four children from two different fathers: Suzanne (b. 1969), from her first husband Cliff Sevakis; and Allison (b. 1971) and Amy (b. 1972) and Philip (b. 1974), from her second husband Dennis Brandenburg. Floyd and Chipman dated for a month and married, with Floyd becoming the new stepfather to her children. Floyd convinced Chipman to move her family with him to Dallas, Texas.

Chipman was sentenced to thirty days in jail for passing bad checks in 1975. While she served her time, she left her children in the custody of Floyd, her husband. After she was released, she arrived home to find the residence vacated and her husband and children gone. Chipman eventually found her two middle daughters, Allison and Amy, in the care of a local church-operated social services group. She never found her older child Suzanne and her youngest son Philip; the infant boy's whereabouts remain unknown.

Death of Tonya Hughes[edit]

Yearbook photo of Suzanne Marie Sevakis, under the alias "Sharon Marshall."[3]

By 1989, Floyd, his purported wife Tonya Dawn Hughes (actually Suzanne Sevakis, who also had gone by the alias "Sharon Marshall"), and her infant son Michael Hughes were living in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where Tonya worked as a dancer at a strip club. A fellow dancer, Karen Parsley, encouraged Tonya to leave the domineering Floyd, only for Tonya to claim that he would kill her and her child if she tried. Floyd had joined the Fraternal Order of Police, despite not being a cop, and had told Tonya that he could use his connections to track her down. However, by April 1990, Tonya decided to run away with Kevin Brown, a college student she was having a secret relationship with, and taking her son Michael.

That month, three passersby found Tonya lying on the side of a highway, one hundred miles outside of Oklahoma City. She was rushed to the Presbyterian Hospital in Oklahoma City with severe bruises and a large hematoma at the base of her skull. As she was found with groceries scattered around her, police surmised she had been struck from behind in a hit-and-run while walking from a convenience store to a nearby Motel 6. When Floyd arrived at the hospital the following day, he claimed he had fallen asleep at the Motel 6 after Tonya had departed to collect the groceries.

Both Floyd and Marshall went by a number of aliases. At the time of her death, the couple were suspects in the 1989 disappearance of 18-year-old Cheryl Ann Commesso, a former coworker of Marshall. Commesso had disappeared following an angry confrontation with Floyd.[5] Floyd was considered the lead suspect in his wife's death as well.[6]

Following Marshall's death, Floyd put her two-year-old son Michael Hughes into foster care and left the state.[7] Hughes' foster parents told authorities the boy had limited muscle control, was non-verbal, and often experienced hysterical behavior when he first arrived at their home, but he had made remarkable progress. In 1994, they began adoption proceedings.[8]

Six months after Hughes was placed in foster care, Floyd was arrested on a parole violation. As part of the adoption process, Hughes' DNA was compared to Floyd's to establish paternity. It was discovered at that time that Floyd was not Hughes' biological father. When Floyd was released from jail, he attempted to regain custody of Hughes. On the basis of his criminal record and the discovery that he had no biological relation, his request was denied.[9]

Kidnapping[edit]

Michael Anthony Hughes

On September 12, 1994, Hughes was in the first grade at Indian Meridian Elementary School in Choctaw, Oklahoma. Floyd walked into the school and forced Principal James Davis at gun point to take him to Hughes' classroom. Floyd then forced Hughes and Davis into his pickup truck. Floyd forced Davis out of the truck in a wooded area, handcuffed him to a tree, and sped off with Michael. The principal survived the abduction and was rescued.[9][10]

Two months later, Floyd was arrested in Louisville, Kentucky. Hughes was not with him and has not been seen since. Authorities have received conflicting reports as to what has happened to Hughes. Some witness statements detail alleged confessions by Floyd regarding Hughes' death. According to these reports, Floyd reportedly told his sister and others that he drowned the child in a motel bathtub in Georgia shortly after the kidnapping. Another person claimed he saw Floyd bury Hughes' body in a cemetery.[11] Still other sources reported that Floyd had stated that Hughes was still alive and safe, although Floyd had refused to disclose the boy's exact location or who was caring for him.[12] In a 2015 interview with the FBI, Floyd admitted to killing Hughes the same day of the kidnapping by shooting him twice in the back of the head.[13]

Sharon Marshall's background[edit]

The investigation into the death of Sharon Marshall and the kidnapping of Hughes uncovered more unsolved mysteries. It was discovered that Floyd had raised Marshall as his daughter since her early childhood. DNA testing to determine her paternity uncovered that she was not Floyd's biological daughter. Floyd has given a number of inconsistent statements regarding how she came to be in his custody. One such story is that he had "rescued" Marshall when she was abandoned by her biological parents. The earliest known record of Marshall was her elementary school registration in an Oklahoma City school in 1975. She was registered under the alias "Suzanne Davis." Authorities suspected that Marshall was born in the late 1960s and kidnapped by Floyd sometime between 1973 and 1975.[8]

It was revealed in October 2014 that Marshall had been identified as Suzanne Maree Sevakis, a North Carolina child who had gone missing with Floyd, her stepfather, in 1975. DNA matched the mother of Suzanne Sevakis to Sharon Marshall. Floyd had been left to care for the woman's three daughters and baby boy while she served a month-long sentence for passing a bad check. When she was released, she found Floyd and the children were gone. She later located two of the daughters, but Suzanne and the baby boy were never found. The boy's fate remains unknown. Sevakis' mother attempted to file kidnapping charges but was told by local authorities that, as their stepfather, Floyd had a right to take the children.[2]

Sharon Marshall graduated from high school in Forest Park, Georgia, in 1986. She was a good student who earned a full scholarship to Georgia Institute of Technology to study aerospace engineering. Despite this, she did not go to college and instead moved to Tampa, Florida, with Floyd, where she gave birth to her son in 1988. Marshall began working as an exotic dancer and married Floyd in 1989 in New Orleans; the couple used the aliases Clarence Marcus Hughes and Tonya Dawn Tadlock.[8]

Cheryl Ann Commesso[edit]

Cheryl Ann Commesso

Commesso's 1989 disappearance remained unsolved until her skeletal remains were found in 1995 by a landscaper in an area off Interstate 275 in Pinellas County, Florida.[14] She was listed as a Jane Doe until a year later, when the remains were identified. An archeologist determined that she died from a beating and two gunshots to the head.[5][15] Floyd and Marshall had been persons of interest in the case after coworkers witnessed an altercation between Floyd and Commesso. Floyd accused Commesso of reporting Sharon Marshall for misstating her income, which subsequently resulted in Marshall's losing her government benefits. The argument occurred outside the club where Marshall and Commesso worked as exotic dancers. A coworker reported that Floyd punched Commesso in the face.[5][16] Floyd and Marshall fled to Oklahoma shortly after Commesso disappeared, and their trailer was burned to the ground in what was ruled intentional arson.[5][6]

In March 1995, a mechanic in Kansas found a large envelope stuffed between the truck bed and the top of the gas tank of a truck he had recently purchased at an auction. He found 97 photographs in the envelope, including many photographs of a woman who was bound and severely beaten. The police traced the truck to Floyd, who had stolen the truck in Oklahoma in September 1994 but had abandoned it in Texas the following month. Investigators compared the photographs of the injured woman with Commesso, as well as evidence found with her remains, and found that the clothing in the photographs were similar. The medical examiner also compared injuries seen in the photograph to the cheekbone of Commesso's skull and found that they were consistent. Many of the pictures contained images of furniture and other belongings identified as belonging to Floyd. He was tried and convicted for Commesso's murder on the basis of the photographic evidence found in the truck.[16]

Further investigation[edit]

The investigation into the kidnapping of Michael Anthony Hughes as well as the earlier kidnapping of his mother are ongoing.[when?] Other photos found in the truck show sexual abuse of Marshall starting very early in her childhood. Authorities found photos of her in sexually explicit poses at various ages, starting around age four.[2][6]

In September 2014, Floyd admitted to the murder of Michael Hughes, and had disposed of his body on Interstate 35. A search of the area yielded no results, and police presume that wild hogs may have eaten Hughes' body.[17]

In 2001, while awaiting trial for Commesso's murder, Judge Nancy Ley ruled that Floyd was incompetent to stand trial and ordered for him to undergo further mental evaluation. Floyd fought against this assessment, asserting that he was competent. Several months later, the judge reversed her previous ruling and ordered him to stand trial.[5] He was convicted and sentenced to death.[16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Doe Network Accessed 1 April 2015
  2. ^ a b c Birkbeck, Matt. "Finally". Matt Birkbeck Official Site.
  3. ^ a b "Recent Site Updates / News". doenetwork.org. The Doe Network. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Birkbeck, Matt (2005). "Chapter 9". A Beautiful Child. Penguin. ISBN 9781440623660. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e Birkbeck, Matt (August 2, 2005). A beautiful child. Berkeley. ISBN 0425204405.
  6. ^ a b c "Michael Anthony Hughes". The Charley Project. Archived from the original on 10 July 2017. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  7. ^ "Michael Hughes". unsolved.com. Archived from the original on 2012-04-27. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  8. ^ a b c "Who were sharon marshall and michael hughes". Unsolved Crimes. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  9. ^ a b "Unsolved kidnapping with a twist". Missing & Unidentified people: let's find them. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  10. ^ MILLS, CHELLIE (12 April 2016). "Cold case solved: Man confesses to killing missing Oklahoma boy more than 20 years ago". KFOR.com. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  11. ^ National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (1994-09-12). "Michael Anthony Hughes". Retrieved 2007-02-02.
  12. ^ The Doe Network (2006-12-26). "Case File 1061DMOK". Archived from the original on June 19, 2004. Retrieved 2007-02-02.
  13. ^ "Solving a Decades-Old Mystery". Cold Case Investigation. Federal Bureau of Investigation. August 3, 2015. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  14. ^ "'Crucial Evidence' in Murder Case Is Stolen". The Ledger. TALLAHASSEE. 22 December 2007. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  15. ^ LEVESQUE, WILLIAM R. (February 16, 2001). "Judge to rule if murder defendant is fit for trial". St. Petersburg times.
  16. ^ a b c "Floyd, Frankly Delano". The commission on capital cases. Archived from the original on 2015-04-12. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  17. ^ "After 20 years of lies, kidnapper admits killing Oklahoma boy". newsok.com. 12 April 2016.

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