Michael Francke made a new for himself as a clear-headed director of New Mexico’s Department of Corrections. The governor of Oregon appeared to have wanted his clear thinking for his state’s department of correction when he offered him the position in 1987, but as the excellent podcast Murder in Oregon reports, nothing was it appeared in the Beaver State.
The day before Francke was scheduled to present evidence of corruption within his department and his recommendations for resolving it, he was murdered in the parking lot of his government office. Exactly what happened on January 17, 1989, remains a mystery. What’s known is that he was stabbed in the chest and bled out on the steps of an unused office doorway.
A guard says he saw two men standing by Francke’s car, and when the left each other, one of them ran across the parking lot, the other walked back toward the office in no particular rush. The guard did not stick by that testimony in trial, but why he changed his mind is only one of a thousand odd details about the Francke’s murder and the sorry investigation that followed it.
Listen the podcast trailer here or through your podcast app, and you’ll hear a bit of their great storytelling. A columnist who has written about this story for years is one of the show’s producers, so we get full accounts of the events in 1989 in light of evidence hidden from the public or ignored by authorities at the time.
Every episode is engaging, unlike some true crime; the most recent one, number nine, exposed the horrific, manipulative nature of one of the suspected officials. Considering they convicted an innocent man, put him away for almost 30 years, and avoided prosecution themselves, I’d say they got away with it, even if it catching up to the living next year.