Girl in the Picture killer's chilling confession revealed by ex-FBI agent who says 'manipulator' left him shaken | The Sun

Girl in the Picture killer's chilling confession revealed by ex-FBI agent who says 'manipulator' left him shaken | The Sun

07/16/2022

AN FBI agent who unraveled two key mysteries in the cold case featured in Netflix's new documentary, Girl in the Picture, has revealed how he outsmarted "master manipulator" Franklin Floyd into confessing to murder.

Scott Lobb told The US Sun he'd never heard of Sharon Marshall and was completely unaware of the strange circumstances surrounding the 20-year-old's death when he was brought onto the unsolved case in 2013.



The mysterious ordeal began in April 1990 when a young woman was found sprawled on the side of a service road of Oklahoma City's I-35, with the groceries she had been carrying scattered out around her.

She was taken to hospital where she quickly slipped into a coma and died five days later.

A man identifying himself as 41-year-old Clarence Marcus Hughes had insisted the woman was his wife, 23-year-old Tonya Hughes, and that the couple had a two-year-old son together called Michael.

But after the woman died, Clarence gave Michael away to state welfare officials before vanishing into thin air.

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An investigation into the suspected hit-and-run incident found that Clarence Hughes was an alias, and the man claiming to be Tonya's husband was actually Franklin Delano Floyd, a fugitive from Georgia wanted since 1973.

The discovery, though, was only the beginning of a stranger-than-fiction chain of events that would include deception, kidnap, rape, and murder, in addition to raising dozens of questions – some of which would take decades to answer.

Chief among those questions for investigators, was who was Tonya Hughes?

"In terms of twists and turns and bizarreness, this case is definitely at the very top for me," said Lobb, who retired as an agent in 2019 and now works for the FBI as a pilot.

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"Even now I try to talk with friends about it and I just can't – I end up losing the plot and going down all these little rabbit holes every time someone asks me about it."

A WEB OF MYSTERY

Two months after Tonya's death, Floyd was arrested in Georgia and sent back to prison for four years for violating his parole.

In 1963 he had been convicted of kidnapping and molesting a four-year-old girl and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

A week after his release in 1973, he was arrested again for assaulting a woman at a gas station. He had a friend post his bond and he skipped town before his trial which had been slated for June.

Following his arrest in 1990, he was sent back to prison and ordered to serve three years in prison while an investigation into Tonya's death continued.

Curiously, a blood test would reveal that he was not Michael's biological father as he had claimed, but Floyd was not forthcoming with information about his relationship with Tonya and Michael.

He was released in 1993, but the case took another shocking turn by the September of 1994 when Floyd turned up at then six-year-old Michael's elementary school with a gun.

He abducted the boy at gunpoint, tying the school principal James Davis to a tree and leaving the scene in the headteacher's truck.

Franklin was once again arrested weeks later, this time in Kentucky, but there was no sign of Michael and Franklin would not say where the boy was.



FBI Special Agent Joe Fitzpatrick was called in to lead the investigation into the kidnapping, and he soon discovered that Franklin was a suspect in the 1990 death of Tonya Hughes.

But once images of Hughes were shared on TV newscasts seeking new information in the case, people who had gone to high school with her back in Georgia insisted her name was not Tonya Hughes, but rather Sharon Marshall.

More troublingly, the man claiming to be her husband, they said, was actually her father – a man they had known by the name of Warren Marshall.

Investigators adopted the theory that Sharon Marshall was likely a kidnapping victim herself but Fitzpatrick was unsuccessful in finding any more information on the young woman, aside from the fact she was likely abducted sometime between 1973 and August 1975.

Franklin, meanwhile, was sentenced to 52 years for the kidnap of Michael, who has never been found.

As the search for the boy continued, photographs of dozens of nude children were found taped to the gas tank of the truck Floyd had stolen from Davis.

One of the images among the sordid pile also showed what appeared to be a young woman that had been bound and severely beaten, likely to the point of death.

That woman would later be identified as Cheryl Ann Comesso – a co-worker of Marshall's – who had disappeared in Tampa, Florida, in April 1989.

Cheryl's skeletal remains were found in March 1995 near Interstate 275 in Florida's Pinellas County. She had been shot twice in the head.

Floyd was convicted of her murder and sentenced to death in 2002.

But still, investigators had no clarity on the true identity of Sharon Marshall nor on the whereabouts of Michael.

OUTSMARTING 'MASTER MANIPULATOR'

More than a decade would pass after Floyd's murder conviction before investigators would make any headway in the case – the trail of which by that point had long grown cold.

But in 2013, the FBI and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children conducted a cold case review of the Hughes kidnapping and reopened the investigation.

The following year, Scott Lobb and Special Agent Nate Furr spent days interviewing Franklin Floyd on death row at the Union Correctional Institute in Florida.

Before meeting with Floyd, Lobb spoke with Fitzgerald and studied hours of interviews and videos of the convicted killer to build up a profile of him and concoct a game plan for how best to interrogate him.

"After conducting my research I came to view Franklin Floyd … as someone who always tried to manipulate people around him," Lobb told The US Sun.

"[But] I also noticed he had deference for people who he perceived to be in charge and I thought I could use that against him somehow."

"In terms of twists and turns and bizarreness, this case is definitely at the very top for me.

Lobb said he was of the opinion that Floyd was just a "mean guy", or put more bluntly, a "mean son of a b**ch."

"[But when I met him in person] I was not impressed by him at all," he said.

"He was not a very big guy physically and he wasn't intimidating.

"But mentally he was very intellectual and very smart.

"He measured up to the person I'd been reading about in that sense; he was very cunning."

'WHO THE F**K ARE YOU?'

When Lobb and Furr first entered the room to speak with Floyd in May 2014, the killer mistook the pair for his attorneys and ranted for 45 minutes about how he'd been framed and how he was going to appeal his case.

Opting not to cut him as part of an interrogation strategy, Lobb eventually informed Floyd he'd been mistaken, telling him: "Look, man, we're not you're attorneys."

When Floyd responded, "well who the f**k are you then?", Lobb said we're FBI agents and began introducing themselves.

In any interrogation, Lobb stressed, an investigator's introduction to the subject is incredibly important.

Seeking to exploit Floyd's perceived deference to figures of authority,Lobb and Furr coordinated their outfits to present Lobb as the more senior of the two investigators.



Lobb explained: " I went to Nate a couple of days before and I said, 'listen, he has this respect, whether it's pseudo respect for people in authority or not, but he seems to respond better, so we're gonna tell him that I'm in charge.

"I told him I pull the purse strings, I make the calls – none of that was true, but he didn't need to know that.

"We also contrasted the way we dressed, so on the first day I was in a full suit and FBI uniform, and Nate was in dress slacks, a sport coat, and a shirt with no tie, and so on.

"We always made Nate look a little bit less dressed than me … and Floyd seemed to respond well to that.

"Don't get me wrong, there was still a battle in that room every day with him, but he seemed to respond well to that perception."

GIRL IN THE PICTURE NAMED

By the second day of their interrogation, Lobb and Furr began scratching the surface about Sharon Marshall's real identity.

After a blunt line of questioning from Lobb, Floyd confessed that Sharon Marshall's real name was Suzanne Sevakis, whom he'd abducted from his wife Sandi Sevakis in 1975.

Floyd told the investigators how he had met Sandi, a mother of four, at a truck stop in North Carolina in 1974.

Floyd and Sandi Sevakis became romantically involved before hastily deciding to get married.

However, their marriage got off to a rocky start after Sandi was sent to prison for 30 days in 1975 for passing a succession of bad checks.

By the time she got out of prison, Floyd and her four children had all disappeared.

"As he told us about her children, I said 'what are their names?' and he says, 'it's the oldest one you're asking about.'

"And then he tells us where Suzanne was born and that he'd seen her birth certificate … we got the birth certificate back and it turned out he'd told us the truth."

Sandi Sevakis' three youngest children were eventually all found to have been placed in foster care, but there was no trace of Suzanne.

"He was not a very big guy physically and he wasn't intimidating … but mentally he was very intellectual … and cunning.

That's because for the next few years Floyd moved Suzanne around frequently, posing as father and daughter and occasionally changing their names.

By 1983, Floyd – then going by Warren Marshall – enrolled his Suzanne – then Sharon – at Forest Park High School in Georgia when she was 15.

Sharon excelled at school and had aspirations to work for NASA. She even landed a scholarship at Georgia Tech but she was pulled out of school and forced to move away with Floyd when she fell pregnant at 18.

They lived for a while in Tampa, where she was made to work at the Mons Venus strip club, before moving to Tulsa in 1989 where Floyd ditched the dad-daughter act and married Suzanne, changing their names to Clarence and Tonya Hughes.

Friends and colleagues of Tonya's had described her husband as abusive to police. She was reportedly considering leaving Floyd at the time of her death in April 1990.

"I was both excited and cautious, because of Floyd's past," Lobb said of learning Suzanne's true identity.

"But once we got the birth certificate back, we were stunned – and just overcome with a feeling of relief and happiness.

"What happened to her was nothing short of terrible, but she had a name now and it felt good to finally get that information."

A CHILLING CONFESSION

One thing Floyd would not discuss with Lobb and Furr is how Suzanne died, and whether or not he was responsible for her death.

Lobb says Floyd would immediately shut down the line of questioning straight away, often trailing off with an unsolicited anecdote about people he knew that worked in law enforcement.

Three painful days of fruitless conversation would follow with the investigators unable to "get anywhere with him."

Workshopping another theory, Lobb and Furr said they believed Floyd was going back to his cell between their scheduled interviews and putting up walls and coming up with long-winded stories to distract from hard-to-answer questions.

When they revisited Floyd to interview him a second time in September 2014, the pair decided to "change the game up" by seeing him less frequently and canceling meetings at short notice.

They also decided to focus their line of questioning on Michael, rather than Suzanne, believing Floyd would refuse to give anything away about her death.



By the third day of the second trip, Lobb's patience with Floyd has worn thin.

He decided to storm out of the room as part of an act and returned a short while later, pulling a seat up right next to him in an effort to unsettle him.

"He told me to get away from him and so I did," Lobb said.

"During this whole process, if he would lean back, to try to get away from me, I leaned forward to try to keep that space real tight.

"If he leaned back and was just having a nice time talking to us, I leaned back I was relaxed – so I mirrored his body language.

"But he told me to get away from him when I came back in so I did I stood at the back of the room and let Nate talk about Michael."

Furr then started speaking about Michael in an emotional context, speaking about how much Floyd clearly loved the boy and was using him to fill the void in his life left in the wake of Suzanne's death.

Incredibly, Furr's assessment reduced an otherwise stunted Floyd to tears.

Lobb then seized on Floyd's outburst of emotion as a cue to walk back over to him, get right up into his face and ask him "what happened to Michael?" and "how did you kill him?"

Lobb repeated the questions over and over again as Floyd stared at the wall crying.

He then slammed an open palm on the table, repeating again and again, "how'd you kill him?"

"And he, at one point before he turned to look to me, he said, 'Oh my God, why have you forsaken me?'" Lob recounted.

"And I thought, 'that was weird. It's Jesus's words on the cross. Why would he say that?'"

Then, as if a switch had been flicked, Floyd stopped crying, looked at Lobb, and in an emotionless tone, said: "I shot him in the back of the head to make it real quick.

"No remorse, not tears, it was very matter of fact and eerie," Lobb said.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Michael was murdered by Floyd on the same day he was abducted from his elementary school.

Floyd drew a map for Lobb and Furr to show where he left the boy's body: a wooded area off the last interstate exit leaving Oklahoma.

A search of that area yielded no sign of Michael's remains, not any shell casings or items of his closing, though Lobb is convinced the boy was killed there as Floyd claimed.

While calling their failure to find evidence of Michael's body "disappointing", the confession brought an end to a 20-year investigation.

As for why Floyd decided to finally fess up to murdering Michael, Lobb believes it's because the executee-in-wait has simply "run out of excuses."

Franklin Floyd, now 79, remains on death row to this day with no date set for his execution.

Lobb says he still has unfinished business with Floyd and would jump at the chance to interview him again should the opportunity arise.

"I would like to try and open up a dialogue with him about Suzanne's death," he said.

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"I don't know how he'd receive me and I don't know what his mental faculties are now.

"It's been seven years since I last talked to him, but yes, I'd love to talk to him more … I'd love to sit across from him again to get the rest of the truth."

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