Murder and suicide a month apart are connected in bizarre case

ANDERSON COUNTY (TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH) - A woman's body found in a wooded area in Anderson County in October and a man's death in Flint a month later would seem to be unrelated, but authorities say the two are connected.

Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor said Friday morning that the homicide of 35-year-old Tylerite Deborah Leann Diaz had been solved.

"We feel quite confident that the case is solved, and a grand jury hearing the evidence believed the evidence showed that our suspect was in fact the killer in this case," he said.

Taylor said the case began last October when a landowner found the remains of a woman on his property on County Road 4440.

Taylor said evidence was gathered at the scene, but because of the decomposition, an identification could not be made at the time and investigators had to wait until forensic information could provide the identification.

Taylor said while his detectives were working the case, the Smith County Sheriff's Office contacted his office about a suicide in Flint and thought Anderson County might be interested in talking to the deceased man's wife.

"Smith County had assisted us in the body being found so they knew about our case. When 53-year-old Bobby Franks killed himself in November, his wife began telling authorities some strange things he had told her," he said.

Taylor said Franks' wife said he had been acting very strange and had done things like cleaned the entire house, his vehicle and got rid of all of his ammunition.

Franks also told his wife strange stories of a woman, a hitchhiker and a trade between the drifter and himself involving Frank's handgun, which was also missing from the couple's Smith County home.

"His wife told us that he started paying attention to stories in the media and when a story ran that Smith County Sheriff's deputies were searching Lake Palestine for a gun, he snapped and started acting crazy. Thing is that wasn't even our case, but he must have thought it was," he said. "He then traveled to Johnson County where he assaulted his daughter-in-law and was arrested and a few days later he was admitted into, I believe Rusk State Hospital, for an evaluation."

Taylor said the information Franks gave his wife about the homicide was information only the killer would have known, but he tried to distance himself by saying the pair met a hitchhiker.

Taylor said the two met at a convenience store in the Flint-Gresham area as Ms. Diaz was looking for a ride.

"The guy that she called for a ride couldn't help her and Franks heard her and offered her a ride," he said.

Taylor said evidence pointed to the pair having sexual relations shortly before she was shot multiple times.

"Only thing we can guess is he maybe wanted to be this bad guy and have relations with another woman and when he did his conscience got the best of him so he killed her," he said.

Taylor said an Anderson County grand jury heard all of the evidence and ruled Franks was the person responsible for Ms. Diaz's death.

"We took evidence from his home under a search warrant and found some stuff, but the ammunition and gun were both gone. We believe because the way he acted that the gun is in Lake Palestine somewhere. We put this case together, and we believe he killed her and we never found any evidence that anyone was involved in this case. This case was solved because of the joint cooperation between our office and Smith County Sheriff's Office, which led to the discovery of Franks and what had been going on his life between the time of the murder and his suicide," he said.


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