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Aug-28-2010 21:17printcomments

Observations on Michael Francke's Murder, Frank Gable's Conviction, & the paid Confession of 'Shorty' Harden

Was an error made by an activist trying to free an innocent man?

Former Oregon Director of Corrections Michael Francke with U.S. President James Carter.
Former Oregon Director of Corrections Michael Francke with U.S. President James Carter. Photo from Unsolved Mysteries video.

(SALEM, Ore.) - Forward by editor: For the past several weeks has been involved in a series investigation of racism, corruption, hate crimes, bribery and criminal violence in the Oregon state corrections department.

Former guard William Coleman

The primary events we are following center around the past employment of an African-American prison guard named William Coleman, who worked at the Oregon State Prison (OSP) in Salem from 2005 to 2007, attempting in vain to expose criminal activity taking place in the prison.

When Coleman filed a 'Whistleblower' claim, the state reacted by charging this former guard with several counts of 'cigarette smuggling' and suddenly this law man was facing 40 years in prison himself.

The series has also examined the plight of three African American inmates who were willing to testify that Coleman was being framed and railroaded by the Oregon Dept. of Corrections (DOC); Clayton Howard, Terrence Kimble and John Smith.

Coleman took the charges to court and won a unanimous not guilty verdict from a jury of his peers, demonstrating for the record that the charges against him had been fabricated.

These stories have generated a great deal of interest, and point to years of official corruption in the Oregon DOC, and obvious complicity with the Oregon Dept. of Justice (DOJ) and the Marion County District Attorney's Office.

The news series also establishes a connection between present day events, and the 1989 murder of an Oregon Dept. of Corrections Director named Michael Francke. To this day, a man named Frank Gable is serving a prison sentence for Francke's murder.

Almost all involved in the case beyond the immediate police and prosecution team that convicted Gable, believe Oregon convicted an innocent man. It was even covered by John Walsh on America's Most Wanted.

The same legal system in Oregon responsible for the injustice in the cases referenced here, recently refused to talk to NBC's Dateline over another case, the wrongful Murder conviction of Oregon resident Scott Cannon.

The record shows a dismal and challenged legal environment in Oregon, where layer after layer of lies and false innuendo are added to a witches brew of corrupt legal maneuvering. The story below is written by a person who has worked very closely with the case for many years. Their identity is not important, I know this individual to be credible.

Not everyone wants to have their name associated with this story and, knowing what I know about Oregon, I can hardly blame them. This is not a guessing game by the way, and attempts to ID this writer will not be published.

There are links to background stories and information, and also for background on the Francke Murder, visit the Website:

Tim King

For background, the individuals in this story are:

  • Michael Francke- Former Prison Director, (murdered in 1989)
  • Kevin Francke- brother of Michael Francke
  • Patrick Francke- brother of Michael Francke
  • Cappie 'Shorty' Harden- the individual who said Gable killed Francke
  • Jodie Swearingen- the teenage drug addict who ultimately testified for Gable in court
  • Rob Taylor- Frank Gable advocate who operates

-Observations regarding the Frank Gable conviction, Michael Francke's Murder and the paid confession of 'Shorty' Harden-



Cappie 'Shorty' Harden was a longtime criminal before the Murder of Oregon Corrections Chief Michael Francke in January 1989. When prosecutors decided that Frank Gable was going to take the fall for the crime, they greatly needed the Grand Jury testimony given by a teenage girl, Jodie Swearingen, to back Harden’s play when he testified before the same Grand Jury, which indicted Gable for Michael Francke’s murder.

'Shorty' Harden, an admitted prior lover of a then underage Swearingen, claimed to the Grand Jury, and later at Gable’s trial, to be an eyewitness to Francke’s murder, and fingered Gable for it.

Harden’s testimony at trial, in the event Gable would be convicted of the Francke murder, made Harden eligible for at least a $50,000 reward money being offered for information leading to the conviction of the perpetrator of Michael Francke’s murder. Harden, as the trial was looming, coined a term referring to himself (Harden) as the 'state's million dollar baby".

Everyone makes a bad call now and then- thinking they know best; Rob Taylor's decision to pay Shorty Harden for his recant was a bad call, in my opinion.


Frank Gable discusses Shorty Harden and Earl Childers

Years after Gable’s trial, a female private detective from the Portland area procured Harden’s address. The address was eventually passed on in some manner to a Frank Gable advocate, Rob Taylor. Taylor has previously told about all this on his website. Taylor went to find Harden in Portland. Over the next month, Taylor and Harden bonded, while doing drugs and tooling with cars together, per Taylor’s explanations once found on his website and blogs. Taylor could clarify further.

Taylor soon convinced Harden to tell his story to the media. Harden then did so, recanting that he had even been near the Dome Building that night (January 17, 1989). Therefore, he could have not seen Gable there. Problematic, for Gable who was then and is still sitting in prison, is that Harden demanded money for telling his story.

According to Rob Taylor, Taylor acted NOT upon Gable’s request in the matter of Harden, but actually at the bequest of Michael Francke’s brothers, Kevin and Patrick, who put up the money Taylor claims to have passed on to Harden: namely, $3,000 in two payments; part paid before and after Harden (accompanied by Taylor) met the newspaper reporter. Taylor could clarify this also.

Harden’s recant was printed, and though it may never be of much use to Gable, it made good headlines and Taylor’s “Free Frank Gable” advocacy website got some press and internet traffic.

Risky Moves

Advocates of the wrongfully convicted, arranging to pay trial witnesses to recant after a trial and conviction, is not necessarily wise. More thinking heads, than less, should be involved in such a serious legally-delicate decision, and certainly the attorney of record of the wrongfully convicted should be consulted with, as their client should too, if possible.

The state likely paid Harden some reward money from the Francke Murder Reward fund, for his testimony, which Harden has since has claimed was totally fabricated, perjured testimony. Harden, later demanding and receiving payment to give his recant to the media, will likely be seen in a not too credible light by a Federal Judge who will be, at some point in the future, hearing Gable’s habeas corpus petition.

Interestingly, Swearingen had actually stayed with Gable, and his wife for a while (I believe Summer '89) prior to Gable’s later indictment. I believe an apologetic letter which surfaced in files sometime later, about her lying to the Grand Jury, was written to Gable by Jodie Swearingen while both were being held prior to Gable’s trial.

Click the image above for Wikipedia's page on Michael Francke's Murder

Additionally, according to Swearingen, A “mock” Grand Jury was held by the prosecutors so as to allow her to practice her soon to be heard Grand Jury testimony. Shortly thereafter, prior to giving their actual Grand Jury testimony, Harden and Swearingen, were placed in a Courthouse room, with State Police detectives (directly involved in the case) in the room also.

Swearingen has stated Harden and her were placed together so she could get her story to line up with his, about her calling him to pick her up at the Dome building, right before Michael Francke was found missing, on 17 January, 1989. Shorty’s version was, when he picked up Jodie, he witnessed Gable stab Francke. Swearingen was Harden’s ONLY known corroborator that he was anywhere near the Dome building. It has been said, however by others, that Harden was elsewhere at the time (7:00 p.m. that night).

Background on Jodie Swearingen:

The female, "underage drug addict” testimony of Jodie Swearingen was Grand Jury testimony which contributed in some manner to Frank Gable’s indictment. After giving Grand Jury testimony, the teenager recanted her Grand Jury testimony to a Gable defense investigator, and also two attorneys at a law firm with whom she met.

Swearingen then left the State of Oregon.

Already, a named material witness in the Francke murder, she was picked up out of state and brought back to Marion County. Subsequently, the teenager was incarcerated as a material witness. A prosecutor alleged that she was a flight risk.

As Jodie Swearingen had recanted her Grand Jury testimony prior to leaving the state, she requested several court hearings, in an attempt to be let out, and on other matters relating to her treatment while being held pending Gable’s trial. She was eventually called to testify at Gable’s trial, by the Gable defense. Her Grand Jury testimony was read into the trial record, by the prosecutor, in an attempt to impeach Swearingen’s recantment, and her testimony at Gable’s trial.

It was Jodie Swearingen against Shorty Harden. It has never been confirmed where the reward funds went.

This contribution was originally left as a comment on: Whistleblower Blues: Man in the Hole. By selecting the link you can read the discussion that immediately preceded this article.

Previous Installments in this series:

Great resources on the Michael Francke Murder:
Michael Francke - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Blue Oregon - Who killed Michael Francke?
Ex-employee supports corruption claims - by Jim Redden Portland Tribune

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

All comments and messages are approved by people and self promotional links or unacceptable comments are denied.

Broc Shurtleff February 22, 2012 9:57 pm (Pacific time)

Hello Franco Its been a longtime since our trails have crossed! I have worried about You for a very long time, perhaps this Letter will get to You! I hope You'll consider E-mailing Me

August 28, 2010 10:55 pm (Pacific time)

Until someone has the ability to raise the overall public's awareness to the fact that TEN PERCENT of all convictions are of innocent people, there will never be a focus on the real reasons underlying this travesty. We spend the most per inmate and have the most inmates of any country on Earth. There are underlying reasons that will be addressed, as the budget for correction is insane. As a City, the cost of our police is roughly one half BILLION dollars for less than 180 full time officers. Think about the extreme cost and the lying, manipulative police that convict innocent civilians.

Swearingen Letter to Gable August 30, 2010 4:59 am (Pacific time)

(Transcribed with spelling errors corrected. Bruce Cummins was a defense investigator working with Gable's defense attorneys.) December 28, 1990 Dearest Frank Hello how are you? I’m alright could always be better. I doubt you’ll write back, maybe you won’t even read this letter. I just need to get a few things off my chest. Please write me back even if it’s saying you’d rather not have me write. I’m going to be open and honest with you please find it in your heart to forgive me. First of all, I believe you’re not the one who killed Francke. The day we all went to Court I almost cried cause I know I was in the wrong, you looked at me and asked, “Why?”, to be honest I did it because I was confused…the cops were told I witnessed it…they come to me I thought that Shorty had made a story and needed me to back it and I did not think I’d get all involved with it…well to come down to it they put me in Hillcrest. I told the cops so many stories can(t) remember….anyways, to make a long story short, I thought someone very close to me did it and that Shorty was involved so I tried to protect - but I was used by Shorty and realize I was in the wrong…I thought it was too late, well I got in touch with Bruce Cummins and told him the truth. I’m really very sorry Frank…it’s going to be alright, you won’t be found guilty. I give you my word, you know it’s real hard because the DA and police want you….you know the polygraph test I took, I’m telling you it’s bad…their all playing dirty, it’s scary- God please forgive me. Kathy says you’re pretty skinny. It’s because you’re real worried about the way this is going to go…try to relax, ok…everything will come out in the end. There are some things I’d rather not say, but I’ll tell you this much, you were just a scapegoat, which is very wrong. You’ve got a pretty good attorney and I’m doing what’s right. I really feel bad for you for what’s happened to you, it’s not right and I’m telling you, I could not live with myself if you were to die and God is my witness, I love life too much to let it go – I’m your friend, please be mine. I swear a letter from you would make me very happy. I’m sure our letters will be read, I’ve got nothing to hide. Please keep this letter away from the news, ok? Frank, we can make it through this together. Please write. My handwriting is real bad. By the way, I go to court January 18 habeas corpus. I’m trying to be taken off material witness. Yeah, can’t spell so good either. Love Jodie. P.S. Please take care of yourself. Don’t worry so much, it’s going to be alright. I know it’s easy for me to say- believe in it, ok?

Rob August 29, 2010 8:59 pm (Pacific time)

Apparently Tim King doesn't accept valid criticism well. Now he's stooping to featuring comments posted by an individual who wishes to remain anonymous while falsely accusing me of a decision I had no hand in making. Considering the primary subject of the comment is a false accusation that it was my decision to pay Shorty Harden and Tim never bothered to address the accusation with me personally, I find this obvious retaliation to my criticism very unprofessional. Moreso as he deems this anonymous writer credible without bothering to cross-check the content of the comment with the person it's directed at. I've already touched on this subject in a comment I posted in one of Tim's previous articles and the only bad decision I'm guilty of is allowing myself to be used as a middleman in a transaction that was entirely derived from a decision made by Kevin and Patrick Francke to pay Shorty for his recant.

The female private investigator procured Harden's address through a DMV check that I specifically requested after being sent on three wild goose chases to Renton, WA by Kevin Francke who claimed Harden was residing there. Within 30 minutes the PI phoned me with Shorty's Portland address which was only three miles from my home. I was at his house within an hour.

Furthermore, this anonymous writer writes..."According to Rob Taylor, Taylor acted NOT upon Gable’s request in the matter of Harden, but actually at the bequest of Michael Francke’s brothers, Kevin and Patrick, who put up the money Taylor claims to have passed on to Harden: namely, $3,000 in two payments."

Why doesn't Tim King bother to ask Rob Taylor if this is true prior to featuring this comment? Why doesn't he bother to ask the Francke brothers? How about Jim Redden or Phil Stanford? Of course the actual letters from Frank Gable practically begging me to somehow get Shorty to come clean with the truth, as well as Frank's letters after Shorty's recant are posted within my website, blog and message forum, and could be easily furnished upon request.

Shorty's recant was published by the Trib directly after the Oregonian published their six month expose of the Francke case after having failed to talk to Shorty or Jodie and concluding the state's case was as tight as they come.

The following is a comment sent to me by Patrick Francke directly after Shorty's recant was published for publication to my website. I think it clarifies quite well who paid Shorty and why.

In my view the Oregonian went into this "in depth" and "definitive" investigation bass-ackwards. They worked from the position that Frank Gable was guilty, and followed a course of research to prove that fact. They spoke about the tens-of-thousands of documents they researched, but failed to acknowledge the fact that Frank Gable provided the bulk of those documents in an attempt to prove his innocence.

They should have gone in with an open mind, researched the material, questioned the witnesses, checked the stories, rechecked the stories, and then drawn their conclusion. It certainly does not appear that this was what transpired. They seemed bent on proving the State's case against Frank Gable by attacking his supporters right down the line. They did this directly and indirectly all through the primary and subsequent stories. Example, Kevin referred to as a person having an "obsession" and one who "ditched his life" in Florida, who eventually "sank into the city's underworld". Rob Taylor is consistently referred to as an "ex-con". They put Mike on trial by referring to his "tin ear for politics", and call him a "consensus builder," and dig into his personal life. They refer to Goldschmidt's "scathing" memo about Mike's "blunders" in public references to the crime problem and all, but they refused to watch the tape of the speech, which he gave on several occasions. That speech outlined the problems with corrections, why the State needed new facilities, and what it was going to cost. Underlying this speech is the theme that prisons don't change society, society needs to change, and if we take care of the kids, we won't need lots of new prisons in the future. Goldschmidt got part of the message from someone who heard the speech, but did not get the whole message. Neither did the Oregonian.

They continue to hold to the story that Mike rode back to Salem from Reno with Scott McAlister after the ski trip. Not true. I know it is not true because Mike told me that it cost him a lot of money to get a last minute flight home. Evelyn Meeks stated in a January 1999 interview with Eric Mason then with KOIN that this was not the case. I called Evelyn Sunday, last, and she reiterated the fact that Mike did NOT ride home with McAlister. The Oregonian will not accept that as fact. Crombie told me she saw the Meeks interview "a long time ago". That makes liars out of Evelyn Meeks and me. Go figure.

Along this same line, there is no mention of the scathing memo Mike sent Frohnmeyer, then AG for the State, asking that McAlister’s involvement with Corrections be limited due to poor legal advice he had given. Mike referred to McAlister as "shooting from the hip", as I recall. Mike also asked for a personal meeting with Frohnmeyer to discuss the situation with McAlister. No record that I know of whether this meeting ever took place or what the outcome was if it did take place.

Continuing on the McAlister trail, the Oregonian really cozies up to McAlister. Talk about softballs. This has the earmarks of the same type of treatment they gave Goldschmidt when they referred to his child molestation as an “affair” with a teenager. They ignored several facts about McAlister’s personal lifestyle in Oregon and Utah, glossed over the child pornography case by using the phrase "teen sex" to describe the video tapes he gave to a woman in Utah, and write her off as a nut case instead of a victim of McAlister’s sexual predation. A jury in Utah paid this woman, Linda Parker, $95,000 as a result of her sexual harassment suits against McAlister and the State of Utah. She also underwent lengthy psychological treatments, including shock therapy, to try to help her out of her hell. They accept McAlister’s explanation of the events, reject Linda Parker's. By the bye, a lawyer in Salem familiar with the case told us that McAlister was not involved with the trial in which these tapes were evidence. In fact the child porn part of the case was moot, having been taken off the table. McAlister stole the tapes, period. He knew what he had in his video porn collection. We were also told that the Oregon Bar "incorrectly" filed a complaint against Scooter over this whole mess and he kept his law ticket. The boys were watching each other's backs.

They slid by the fact that Jodie Swearingen recanted and testified for the defense. They sidestepped the statements by Randy Martinak, an investigator for the Oregon Dept. of Justice, who expressed his opinion that Frank Gable was innocent. They get all over the drug crowd who testified Frank Gable told them he did it, giving them maximum credibility. Now that the only eyewitness has recanted, the State's case hangs on the drug dealers.

Now we arrive at Shorty Hardin's doorstep. Much has and will be written about the fact that we paid Shorty for this information. Right on! There is not a prosecutor at any level in the United States criminal justice system that does not do the same damn thing every day. Their currency is "the deal”, plea-bargaining. I did not have that available to me, unfortunately. No "Get Out Of Jail Free" card I could use, so I used the currency I do have available, Yankee greenback dollars. The cops and the DA's do the same thing, they just use a different barter system.

The Oregonian interviewed everyone remotely connected to the case except the two pivotal witnesses, Cappie Hardin and Jodie Swearingen. I do not know why Shorty was unwilling to speak on the record with them. I do know that in the first weeks of their “in depth” and “definitive” investigation, I spoke on two occasions with Crombie. In the first telephone interview, I have the tapes; I mentioned Jodie and her involvement and the fact that she was due to be released from prison in the next few weeks. I asked Crombie several times to let her alone in prison, that we could arrange for them to meet after she was out and settled. Crombie/Zeitz took it upon themselves to brace Jodie in prison. She was embarrassed and angry by their action and refused to talk to them. Still does. Don’t blame her. Crombie told me they were within their rights to go see Jodie in prison. They don’t listen.

At the end of the day, with the “eyewitness” recanting and the “other” eyewitness testifying for the defense, it does not appear that the State has much of a case against Frank Gable. They cannot prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and that’s the truth!


Bring it on Tim. No surprises here for me.

Anonymous August 29, 2010 2:08 pm (Pacific time)

Until someone has the ability to raise the overall public's awareness to the fact that TEN PERCENT of all convictions are of innocent people, there will never be a focus on the real reasons underlying this travesty. We spend the most per inmate and have the most inmates of any country on Earth. There are underlying reasons that will be addressed, as the budget for correction is insane. As a City, the cost of our police is roughly one half BILLION dollars for less than 180 full time officers.

Anonymous August 28, 2010 11:00 pm (Pacific time)

Crime Statistics, Prisoners Per capita (most recent) by country

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.