Flynt's unwitting part in all this had begun a few years ealier in Atlanta. In December 1975, Franklin was in a busy newsstand here thumbing through the latest edition of "Hustler." It included a spread of sexually explicit photos featuring a black man and a white woman.
“It wasn’t the fact that Flynt was a depraved pornographer that bothered Franklin,” Townsend writes. “To Franklin, interracial couples were an abomination … (That) was the day that Larry Flynt became a marked man.”
Franklin may have gotten away with that crime for a long time, but the fact that no one was seeing the bigger picture started to eat at him. In August 1983, he sent a letter through his attorney to the Gwinnett police chief, claiming to have “knowledge of a case he might be interested in” and requesting he send an investigator to the Marion prison.
“He wasn’t getting people’s attention with the random unconnected killings he was doing from Wisconsin to Georgia,” Townsend said she realized from listening to those taped interviews. “He’d assumed people would connect the dots and the race war would get kicked off. He believed it would happen once he shot Flynt, since he was such a high profile character. Instead, he fell so miserably short.”
Townsend grew up in DeKalb County and has lived in Gwinnett for nearly three decades as the population has exploded to nearly 900,000 people. A veteran writer and journalist, she’s imbued “Blood in the Soil” with knowing details about just how different things were there as recently as 1978.
“Of all the things I uncovered, it probably blew me away the most that Gwinnett County had one ambulance then and they had to choose which guy was going to go first,” Townsend chuckled, referring to the panicked moments after Flynt and Reeves had been shot and were awaiting transport to Button Gwinnett Hospital. “The trial was a circus already and the shooting sent it over the top.”
“Blood in the Soil” is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and many independent bookstores. Townsend has several local appearances scheduled: 1 p.m. - 3 p.m. on June 18 at the Barnes and Noble at The Forum on Peachtree Parkway in Norcross, and 1 p.m. - 3 p.m. on June 25 at the Barnes and Noble at the Mall of Georgia.
For more information, go to www.caroletownsend.com