APwi 11/25 1941 Chainsaw Murder
By LINDA DEUTSCH Associated Press Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A California State University professor
who told authorities three different stories about a grisly
slaying was ordered to stand trial on charges that he murdered
and dismembered the body of a teen-ager with a chain saw.
Municipal Court Judge David Horwitz said the facts of the
crime outlined in a three-day preliminary hearing were "heinous
and atrocious," and provided sufficient evidence to hold Max
Bernard Franc for trial.
Franc, 58, formerly of De Pere, Wis., who was identified by
one witness by the ill-fitting gray hairpiece he wears, showed no
reaction Tuesday to the judge's ruling.
The prosecutor has contended that Franc, who taught political
science and public administration at the Fresno campus of the
university, killed the youth at his West Hollywood apartment in a
homosexual rage, then dismembered the body with a rented chain
Parts of the body were found scattered 200 miles apart in
Fresno and Valencia.
The victim, Tracy Leroy Nute, 17, has been identified as a
homeless runaway who worked as a homosexual prostutite.
Horwitz upheld one special circumstance charge that could
bring Franc the death penalty if convicted. That count alleges
that Franc robbed Nute before killing him.
The prosecution's final pieces of evidence Tuesday were
transcripts of Franc's tape-recorded statements to detectives
after his arrest in August.
In the tapes, Franc gave a rambling, sometimes confused
account of his actions the day of the murder.
At first, he claimed he rented a chain saw to cut up the body
of a dog he had accidentally killed. Later, he changed the
story, saying that a friend of his, Terry Adams, dismembered the
dead dog because it belonged to an organized crime figure and he
feared retribution if the death was discovered. But when
detectives told him that humn blood had been found on the chain
saw, the transcripts showed that he changed his story again and
admitted seeing Nute killed although he denied that he did it.
Again, he blamed Terry Adams.
Deputy District Attorney Sterling Norris said Adams has not
been found and he now believes such a person never existed.
"Our theory at the present time is that Terry Adams is a straw
man," said Norris. "It's very common for suspects to put forward
a straw man to explain being near a murder but not having
"...He totally made him up," Norris said. "That's our best
belief as of now, that Terry Adams is a fictitious figure."
Franc was arrested Aug. 29 after blood and bits of flesh were
found in the innerworkings of the chain saw he had rented and
returned. Blood residue also was found in his apartment.
According to Frank's statements, both Nute and the mysterious
Terry Adams came to his apartment the day of the killing and a
fight began. He said that Nute pulled a knife on Adams who then
shot him with a gun belonging to Franc.
"Suddenly I realized that Terry had a gun in my hand -- a gun
in his hand," Frank was quoted as saying in the transcript.
"A gun in his hand?" asked sheriff's investigator Stanley
"Yeah. That sounds like a slip, doesn't it? Ha, ha, ha,"
Franc was quoted as saying.
He then told how Adams shot Nute in the abdomen.
"He was like whining; he was making noises," said Franc.
"...And then I think to shut him up, Terry shot him in the head."
He said the man then dragged the dead body into the bathroom .
"I just felt like vomiting," Franc said. "...And Terry kept
saying don't worry, this is just a body, you know it's not a real
person anymore," the transcript said.
Franc said he left the apartment for a few hours and when he
returned, "The body had partly been cut up."
When he protested and threatened to call the police, Franc
said Adams told him: "We'll just...sprinkle these pieces around,
you know, and nobody'll ever be able to figure out who the corpse
was," the transcript said.
"I guess that was the crime of mine," said Franc. "I went
along with the idea, you know."
His account of why he rented the chain saw and how the body
parts were scattered was confused, and the interview ended with
White telling Franc he did not believe his story.
"I don't think you're totally telling me the truth, and I
think it's going to hurt you in the long run," said the
"Well, there's...I don't know what else to do," Franc replied.
During his interviews, Franc admitted that Nute owed him $40
which he asked for and received $10.
Judge Horwitz said that statement was sufficient to uphold the
special circumstance charge of robbery.