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April 30, 2024 23 mins

How was Franklin Floyd able to evade justice and hide from authorities for so long? In this second bonus episode, we spoke with Mark Yancey who prosecuted Floyd for the kidnapping charge that finally put him behind bars. Yancey also explained how Floyd ended up on death row in the Florida for murder and he remembered the day investigators gathered at Suzie's grave site to right a wrong.  

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:02):
Hey, their listeners. In the past ten episodes, we've told
you the story of Steve Patterson and how Franklin Floyd's
impact on his family continues to echo today. As you
know from this series, there are several people in law
enforcement who tried to bring Floyd to justice, who worked
hard to unravel as trail of lies. This was the
work of many Some you met, like Agent Scott lab

(00:23):
many you didn't. In this bonus episode, we're going to
hear more from Mark Ynsey, who prosecuted Franklin Floyd and
the kidnapping case of Michael Hughes and his principal, James Davis.
He has some pretty incredible memories about what went down
at Floyd's trial in Oklahoma City. He'll tell us about
what it was like when Floyd finally faced consequences, how

(00:44):
law enforcement finally caught Floyd for Ceryl Comesso's murder, and
what the memorial was like when they changed the name
on Susi Sevega's headstone.

Speaker 2 (00:51):
To reflect her real name.

Speaker 1 (00:53):
I recommend listening to episodes one through ten before diving
into this one. He talks a lot about Franklin Floyd
and his many crime I should also give a warning
some of the things Mark taught about our graphic and
discussed both murder and sexial abuse. My producer, Kate Michigan
spoke with Mark Yancey.

Speaker 3 (01:15):
This is chapter thirteen, Mark Yancey on Floyd's trial. I
want to start with your time at the US Attorney's Office.
Can you tell me what attracted you to that work.

Speaker 2 (01:26):
When I got out of law school in nineteen eighty six,
I actually immediately joined the FBI as an FBI Special
Agent and they sent me to Oklahoma, and I was
an FBI Special Agent and legal advisor for about four
and a half years, and I presented cases to the
US Attorney's Office for prosecution. Worked very closely with the prosecutors,

(01:47):
and I liked being in court. I liked seeing what
the prosecutors are doing. I want to do that.

Speaker 3 (01:52):
And what year was this when you started with the
US Attorney's Office.

Speaker 2 (01:55):
I started with the US Attorney's Office in nineteen ninety one, Okay.

Speaker 3 (02:00):
Three years later. I kind of want to take us
back to that point. At this point in our story,
SUSU se Vegas had been killing the hit and run
Michael's put into the care of Merle and earnest being
and then in September of that year, Franklin Floyd kidnapped
both Michael and Principal James Davis from the elementary school
and left with Jess Michael, what was your first touch
point with the story?

Speaker 2 (02:21):
Yeah, you know, this case got legs from early on,
and there's just so many twists and turns and unsolved
issues that it just is. Yeah, it was an honor
or work on something like this, notwithstanding the fact that
there's so many tragedies involved. My first touch point was

(02:42):
with one of my former colleagues at the FBI, Joe Fitzpatrick.
We had worked together as agents and he had been
assigned this case that afternoon and he called me at
home that evening. I had not heard about the kidnapping,
and he explained the situation to me, and to me,
initially what he was describing is it sounded a little
bit like more of a domestic type kidnapping. So I

(03:05):
was hopeful that, you know, Michael was safe. And he
explained the situation to me and wanted to know what
we could do if we happened to find Franklin Floyd
for it to be a federal kidnapping and a federal offense,
the victim would have to be taken across state lines

(03:26):
in interstate commerce. So I did not think we had
a viable federal kidnapping charge at that point. However, Agent
Fitzpatrick explained to me that Franklin Floyd had a long
criminal history and that he had taken Michael in the
principle at the endpoint that day. But the next day,
as we started to delve into Franklin Floyd's background, that

(03:51):
is when I really became concerned about Michael in his
well being, because this just didn't look like a case
where some he really wanted the child. I concluded pretty
quickly based on Franklin Floyd's background, He's probably a sociopath,
lacked empathy, incapable of love. So I knew he's not

(04:13):
doing this out of love for the child. This is
just another possession for him, and people can discard possessions
pretty easily sometimes.

Speaker 3 (04:24):
And so where was Floyd arrested? Where they find him?

Speaker 2 (04:28):
Well, he was arrested, you know, months later. So this
happened in September, arrested around Halloween. I think it was Louisville, Kentucky,
and Joe Fitzpatrick fought that Franklin Floyd may try to
use one of those old aliases to get some type
of state credential like a driver's license. And that's exactly
how we found him. He had slipped up by trying

(04:49):
to get an ID under one of his old aliases.

Speaker 3 (04:55):
And how were you able to inject him on kidnapping charges?
How to line up for that to work?

Speaker 2 (04:59):
Well, a lot had to line up the other charges
that I think we had charged five federal crimes at
the time. One was kidnapping, one was using a firm
during a relation to the kidnapping. Of course, the carjacking
statute was applied because he had taken James Davis's truck
at gunpoint, and we also charged a interstate transportation of

(05:22):
stolen property, that being the truck because we had found
the truck later and it Texas in the parking lot
of a Wonderbread bakery. All the charges were very straightforward
with the exception of the kidnapping. And the kidnapping was
a little more problematic because one we didn't find Michael.
Since we didn't have Michael, we had to prove that

(05:44):
element of the crime circumstantially, so you could draw some
reasonable inferences that if he left the next day on
a bus from Dallas to Atlanta, Georgia, that it makes
since that he probably took Michael very quickly, knowing that
police would be in Oklahoma would be swarming looking for

(06:07):
that vehicle, probably left the state very quickly and drove
straight to Dallas, Texas, which is only about three and
a half hours from Oklahoma City, abandoned the truck there,
and then of course took the Greyhound bus to Atlanta.
So that was the theory of our case and how
we established circumstantially that he had taken Michael in interstate commerce.

Speaker 3 (06:32):
I wonder if you can take him back to the
trial and set the state here, like, where's it being held,
who's representing him, who shows up to the courthouse every day,
what's this all like.

Speaker 2 (06:40):
The trial actually started in April of nineteen ninety five,
ten days before the Oklahoma City bombing, which actually occurred
right across the street from the courthouse where we tried
Franklin Floyd. We had a very senior judge assigned to
the case, Judge Wayne Alley, very experienced, and the trial

(07:00):
became a little interesting because Franklin Floyd decided to waive
his right to a jury trial, and we don't know why,
but I can speculate his thinking was, since this case
involves a child, that a jury may not give me

(07:21):
a fair shape. Because it involves a minor victim, people
may be automatically biased, especially when we hadn't found Michael yet.
There was another interesting twist to the case. He really
wanted to represent himself. He very much wanted to be
able to question witnesses and make arguments to the court.

(07:43):
You typically can't have a lawyer and argue the case yourself.
It's one or the other. Judge ally allowed some form
of hybrid representation to placate Franklin Floyd. I don't know
why he did that. I can speculate that he thought
that we might have bursts in court. He was represented

(08:03):
by Susan Otto, who was the public defender in Oklahoma
City at the time. I believe she still is the public.

Speaker 3 (08:09):
Defender, and Floyd himself in the courtroom. I read that
he I think he tried to marry a witness. I
understand that he was belligerent. What do you remember about
all that?

Speaker 2 (08:20):
He was more constrained than I thought he would be,
And I think the only reason he was more constrained
is because the judge allowed him to sort of blow
off steam. I think that diffused the situation.

Speaker 3 (08:33):
Did he ever take the stand?

Speaker 2 (08:35):
He did not take the stand. He presented his defense
generally through cross examination or arguments to the court.

Speaker 3 (08:43):
Who did the prosecution called as witnesses.

Speaker 2 (08:46):
Ed Camiga was my trial partner. He was lead counsel ed,
and I called a number of witnesses as you can imagine.
We started with the deputy sheriff that actually responded to
the kidnapping and found James Davis had been handcuffed to
a tree in the woods behind the elementary school in Chalkhaw, Oklahoma,

(09:07):
in a wooded area. One of the defenses to federal
kidnapping is that a parent cannot be guilty of kidnapping
their child, and it's very clear in the statute, and
of course that was one of Franklin Floyd's key defenses
is I can't be guilty. I am the father of
Michael Hughes. So we put on DNA evidence to disprove

(09:30):
that he was the biological father of Michael Hughes. And
of course he countered by suggesting that he was sort
of the de facto father or grandfather.

Speaker 3 (09:40):
Oh, I would think you'd pick one.

Speaker 2 (09:44):
A father is actually the tact he took, which we
thought was an odd tack to take, because obviously he
always claimed he was Sharon Marshall's father and Michael was
Sharon's child, so how could you be the father of both.
We had the Beans testify, obbo, so they had to

(10:06):
identify photographs of Michael and be able to talk about,
you know, dropping him off at the elementary school that morning,
and of course that they had been the foster parents
and that he had been in their care.

Speaker 3 (10:19):
What's your recollection of their emotional state?

Speaker 2 (10:22):
Very distraught and troubled. I think they had genuinely grown
to really love Michael. He had become part of the family.
Michael had really started to thrive under their care, and
he had, you know, step siblings who were much older,
and they had grown to like him and love him
as well. So I think it was very traumatic for
them as well.

Speaker 3 (10:42):
It seems hard to talk about everything he's done without
talking about Susie Sebacas. Susie Serbakas, whose alias was of
course Sharon Marshall. Did anyone talk about her in the
court room or to what extent was she brought up.

Speaker 2 (10:55):
Yeah, we talked about her a lot because to refute
the fact act that he was Michael's father, we had
to talk a lot about Lloyd's relationship with Sharon and
how he basically held himself out as her father those years.
So we called one of her best friends from high

(11:16):
school talk about that relationship. We knew he wasn't the
biological father. If anything, he was Sharon's de facto's stepfather.
Therefore he could not be Michael ste facto stepfather. So
all of that was done to try to negate this
defense that he was somehow Michael's parent. We called a
number of other witnesses. Greg Higgs, who was actually Michael's

(11:38):
biological father, we called him to the stand. Obviously we
had his DNA to confirm that he was Michael's biological father.

Speaker 3 (11:47):
What was he like?

Speaker 2 (11:49):
Very normal, married and had his own children and knew
nothing about Michael. He did not know that he was
Michael's father, and had noted to us that if he
would have known that there was this whole custody dispute
and that Sharon had died, he would have gladly adopted

(12:10):
Michael as his own son. Wow.

Speaker 3 (12:14):
I know that his mental health issues that he struggled
with came up a lot in his Florida case, and
that's the reason why he's never apparently put to death.
Did this come up at all in this case.

Speaker 2 (12:24):
Not really. We had a psychiatric exam conducted by a
local psychiatrist, doctor Donica. He was a sociopath. Doctor Donaga
just told his point blank that he doubted very seriously
whether Michael was alive, which we already knew. We didn't
have a body, but we knew when Franklin Floyd was
arrested in Louisville, Kentucky, and Michael was not there, and

(12:48):
Floyd gave a number of different excuses, crazy excuses as
to what hypened to Michael in conflicting statements. We knew
that he was dead.

Speaker 3 (13:06):
When was he sentenced and what was that sentence?

Speaker 2 (13:09):
It was months later. Essentially got fifty two year sentence
because we have federal sentencing guidelines, so he got the
maximum he could get into the federal sentencing guidelines. And
I think at the time he was fifty six, and
there's no parole in the federal system. So when you
get a fifty year plus sentence. It's effectively life without parole.

Speaker 3 (13:28):
Something that just continues to stand out to me in
this case is just how he got away with so
much for so long. I mean, to not even be
charged in that homicide. I understand why not. He's just
a fugitive for so long. How do we explain this?

Speaker 2 (13:42):
Good luck for him and bad luck for law enforcement?
He was smart enough to move frequently and change names frequently,
rather than just you know, going to one area, assuming
one alias and keeping it for decades. He just seemed
to always stay one step ahead of the law, picked

(14:05):
the right time to just move and flee.

Speaker 3 (14:08):
So Floyd stole the principal's pickup truck in nineteen ninety
four during the kidnapping, and incredibly, it was only discovered
years later in the parking lot of the Wonderbread Baking factory.
At what point was that found in Dallas?

Speaker 2 (14:20):
That was found quite a bit later, But it was
obvious that it had been parked for a long time
because of how dirty it was and how there was
you know, debris underneath the truck as well. So the
truck was found and interior of it I think was

(14:44):
searched months and months after the truck had been repurchased
by someone. The gentleman who bought it took it in
for some repairs. They put it up on a lift,
and that's when it was just governed that there were
a number of photographs taped to the gas tank of
that truck.

Speaker 3 (15:07):
Can you kind of walk me through what happened after that?

Speaker 2 (15:10):
Obviously law enforcement was notified. There was some very disturbing
photos that they found taped to the gas tank. We
eventually were able to take custios and look through them,
and it was pretty obvious to me and all of
us when we saw those photos that these were sort
of Franklin Floyd's trophies, because there was a lot of
incriminating photographs, including photographs of Sharon Marshall was a little

(15:37):
girl inappropriate type poses. Essentially it was child pornography, which
confirmed our suspicion that he was a pedophile, and this
confirmed that he had essentially been probably sexually abusing Shurant
Marshall since shortly after he came into possession of her.

(15:57):
There were photographs of her dressed and clothes as a teenager,
but and for a provocative type of clothing. There was
also some pretty disturbing photos of a woman who was
bound and gagged, and it looked to us like we
had some type of victim of a climb there, which

(16:18):
was again consistent with what we knew of him, and
obviously we were very concern that we had salt victim,
maybe a homicide victim, and we needed to find out
who that was.

Speaker 3 (16:31):
This was Cheryl Comeasso.

Speaker 2 (16:33):
There were also another photo or two of women that
we never identified. They did not appear to be in
any type of distress, but we had concerns that these
were sort of his trophies. These trophies are precious to
these type of offenders and predators. I mean, these are keepsakes.
I assume he was hoping he could maybe somehow get

(16:53):
to those later. Yeah, these were polaroids and he was
very clear not to show himself in any of them,
although there was one good thumb photo in one of
the photographs that the police in Florida used to their
advantage to try to identify him.

Speaker 3 (17:13):
So you put his thumb in the photograph, which is
just a stupid okay, many people often do via accident,
and this happened to be a really stupid mistake for him.
That's really interesting.

Speaker 2 (17:26):
When we sat down with Agent Fitzpatrick about this, Agent
Fitzpatrick was, I think the office's ViCAP representative. The acronyms
VIICAP stands for the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program and this
was a system set up by the FBI to try
to connect serial offenders who may travel from state to

(17:49):
state commit crimes of violence. So Agent Fitzpatrick immediately put
these photographs into the system, asking, you know, law enforcement
nation wide if anyone recognized these photos in this particular victim,
and sure enough to detectives in Saint Petersburg Police Department,

(18:10):
Bob Shock and Mark DeSario working a Jane do homicide case,
they immediately recognized the clothing that the victim was wearing.
They had found a body, the skeletal remains of a
woman a few years earlier in Saint Petersburg area. They

(18:34):
were able to take the clothing and wash it. And
when you look at the photos they uploaded, and you
saw the pink or the purple bikini and the striped
shirt and compared it with the photos that we found,
you could tell us the exact same clothing, and they
were able to identify the victim as Cheryl Comesso. This

(18:57):
absolutely connected the due cases. They did not have a suspect.
Then this immediately made Franklin Floyd a suspect, since he
was in custody of those photos when she's wearing the
same clothes, and it was probably the very night she
was murdered. She was shot one or two rounds to
the head.

Speaker 3 (19:14):
Did you follow the shehl Comeso case in Florida?

Speaker 2 (19:18):
I did. I almost got called as a witness because
we convicted him first, and of course a lot of
the evidence we had was their key evidence. We shared evidence,
and we made a trip down to Florida to present
what we had found in our case to them.

Speaker 3 (19:34):
And I know that you'd asked for life in prison.
How do you react to seeing him sentenced to death?

Speaker 2 (19:41):
It was very satisfactory and appropriate.

Speaker 1 (19:44):
If you've listened to her podcast, you know if Floyd
was sentenced today, but not actually put to death. He
died of old age behind bars. Next up, Kate Tosty
Yancy about a very special memorial service he attended for
Susie Sevegas.

Speaker 3 (20:01):
I understand that you were at the burial service in Oklahoma.
Can you tell me how that all came to be?

Speaker 2 (20:06):
You know, I don't know who initiated that, but we
had a ceremony in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where Sebakas is buried
actually under the name Sharon Marshall, and you know, someone
thought it would be fitting to get all the family
together and have the name Suzanne Sevakas her real name
on the headstone instead of some alias that she had

(20:28):
been living under, and that's what we did. So that
was the first time we got to meet mister Sebakas
who came down, and different family members and you know
agents that work on the case, friends of Sharon's who
knew her, and Tulsa her high school friend from Georgia,

(20:49):
her best friend from high school in Georgia. So, yeah,
it was just a way to honor her and correct history.

Speaker 3 (20:58):
Yeah, it sounds like it would have been a very
very heavy day.

Speaker 2 (21:01):
It was heavy, but fulfilling I think at the same
time that we could again put a true name to
this person, sort of show to the world who she
really was and that she did have a family. It
was sad, but again at the same time, I think
people had a lot of the mixed emotions and we're
just in some ways relieved and happy, that we're able

(21:24):
to put finality to this unsolved mystery.

Speaker 1 (21:34):
Thanks for listening, and thank you to Mark Nancy for
taking the time. This is our last bonus episode. Many
thanks to our listeners. Please spread the word about this
show and tell all of your friends.

Speaker 2 (21:48):
Hello.

Speaker 1 (21:48):
John Doe is and Original productions by Revelations Entertainment in
association with First and Life's Productions from Revelation. Our executive
producers are Morgan Freeman and James Younger from First to
Lindsay Moreno is the executive producer. Our producing partner is
ne On Home Media. It was written and produced by
Kate Michigan. Our editor is Catherine Saint Louis. She is

(22:10):
also nio On Home Media's executive editor. Our executive producer
is Sherah Morris. Our development producer is Ian Lindsay. Our
associate producer is Rufaro Faith Maserua. Sound design and mixing
by Scott Summerville. Theme and original music composed by Jesse Pearlstein.
Additional music came from Epidemic Sound and Blue Dot Sessions.

(22:30):
Bendall Faulton is our fact checker. Our production manager is
Samantha Allison. From my Heart Media Dylan Fagan as our
executive producer. Special thanks to Adelia Ruben at ne On
hum and Carrie Lieberman and Will Pearson at iHeartMedia. I'm
Todd Matthews. You can learn more about name us at
NamUs dot com. The number for the National Center for
Missing Exploited Children's Call Center is one eight hundred the

(22:53):
loss that's one eight hundred eight four three five six
seven eight. The National Sexual Assault high Line from the
Rate Abuse and Incest National Network is one eight hundred
sixty five six four six seven three. Okay, guys, this
is the end of the show. If you didn't like it,
don't do anything. But if you did like it, you

(23:13):
make sure that your rate and review the show. It
helps more people to find it and hear this wonderful story.

Speaker 2 (23:18):
Thanks again for listening.
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