- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

NEOSHO, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri inmate convicted of sexually abusing an underage girl in 2002 is charged with murder in the disappearance of a woman a year earlier, who prosecutors believe was killed when she caught him sexually assaulting the child and intervened.

Mark Walsh, 57, was bound over for trial Tuesday on charges of second-degree murder and other charges in the suspected killing of 46-year-old Freida Franks at a campground near Joplin on Aug. 17, 2001, The Joplin Globe reported (https://bit.ly/1wg7lLG ). Franks was reported missing by her daughter in 2002, and her body hasn’t been found.

Walsh was convicted of sexually assaulting the girl in 2002 in Stone County and is serving two life sentences.

Mike Barnett, a detective with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office, testified Tuesday that while looking into Franks’ disappearance last year, he interviewed the victim in the Stone County case, who is now an adult. He said she recalled being with Franks and Walsh at the campground that day, when she was 11 years old, and that Franks left her alone with Walsh in an RV. She said Walsh showed her child pornography on a computer, took her to a bedroom and began sexually abusing her.

She said Franks returned, caught Walsh in the act and began to hit him, and that Walsh slashed Franks with a knife, the detective said.

“(Franks) was bleeding,” Barnett testified about the victim’s account. “She continued to hit Mr. Walsh. Mr. Walsh stabbed her in the chest.”

The woman said Walsh made her leave the room when Franks collapsed, and that she never saw her again.

Walsh, who served as his own attorney at the hearing, asked Barnett how the witness “suddenly recalled something in 2013 that happened in 2001.”

“Oh, she saw someone murdered and she just failed to mention it for 12 years?” Walsh asked.

Barnett testified that when Walsh was arrested in 2002, the girl told investigators about Frank’s death, but that no charges pertaining to Franks’ disappearance were filed at the time.

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Information from: The Joplin (Mo.) Globe, https://www.joplinglobe.com


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