How Franklin Floyd From Netflix's Girl In The Picture Was Caught By A Kansas Mechanic

Not every surprise is a happy surprise. As Fresh Edits and documents from the U.S. 10th Court of Appeals (via FindLaw) relate, a mechanic from Kansas went to a used car auction once day in 1995. Seeing a '94 Ford pickup in decent condition, he made a bid and brought the truck home to make some light repairs. But here this unremarkable story takes a dark turn. When the mechanic took a look at the gas tank, he found, of all things, a manila envelope taped to it. Curious, he opened it up.  

Inside was something so vicious and morally repugnant that the mechanic quickly called the police. The envelope had been filled with snapshots of a bound and visibly battered woman. The police quickly contacted the FBI. The mechanic who thought he was buying a truck to tinker on had turned up evidence in one of the strangest, darkest criminal cases of the 1980s and '90s: the saga of murderer Franklin Floyd, the subject of the Netflix documentary "The Girl in the Picture," streaming July 6. (The trailer is on YouTube.) 

A heartbreaking saga

Franklin Delano Floyd was born in Barnesville, Georgia, according to Fresh Edits. He was the child of the rural South, tough and hard-bitten by the Great Depression. His father died of organ failure due to alcoholism when Franklin was an infant, and his childhood never really improved past that point. Bullied and neglected, the young Floyd turned to violent crime, getting himself seriously wounded in a police shootout at the age of 16. The next few decades he spent in and out of jail for robbery, kidnapping, sexual assault, and other violent offenses.

Court documents (via FindLaw) reveal that in 1973, while on the lam, Floyd began a relationship with one Linda Williams. She already had a daughter, Sharon, born Suzanne Marie Sevakis (per the FBI); he raised her under a series of assumed names. In 1988, the young Sharon had a brief relationship of her own that would lead to her giving birth to a boy, named Michael. The next year, in Louisiana, the criminal and his adopted daughter would get married under false names. 

Two murders

Floyd would later insist that this was an unconsummated marriage of convenience, for the sake of baby Michael. But this was no fairy tale. In 1990, Sharon/Suzanne died in a hit-and-run, and Floyd, caught for writing false checks, lost Michael to the state. Michael would later be adopted by a couple in Oklahoma.

Floyd desperately wanted custody of Michael, despite his incarceration, and despite being proven by DNA test not to be the boy's father (per the FBI). Floyd got out in 1993; in 1994, he sprang his most shocking crime yet. He drove to the Oklahoma elementary school where the 6-year-old Michael was in class, and, with pistol drawn, forced the principal to help him kidnap the boy. The "father and son" drove off in the principal's truck. By the time police caught up with Floyd, the boy was long gone. Floyd would later admit to shooting the child in the head at close range, according to The Oklahoman. Feral pigs likely ate the body.

Did you think it would end there? Floyd dumped the principal's '94 Ford truck after stealing it. It would end up in auction in Kansas, and then in the hands of the FBI. The photos of the beaten woman that Floyd had cached in the undercarriage depicted one Cheryl Commesso, a murdered exotic dancer whose case had gone cold in the 1980s. At last, authorities could make the connection: Floyd had killed her, too.