Freida Franks, Missouri’s Only Currently Missing Indigenous Woman
In my search for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Woman, Children, and Two Spirit People to feature on this website, I found Freida Louise Franks. Freida’s name is also recorded as Fredia Franks on the Charley Project and Freda Franks in an article by the Springfield News-Leader.
I think there is a lot to unpack here. I would like to dig further into Freida’s past, to uncover her true name and more about her past. I also don’t believe that this is the only person to fall into this category in Missouri, whether that is from a lack of reporting, or misidentifying peoples’ ethnic backgrounds, I don’t know yet. The lack of a searchable database of MMIW in this state and across the nation is a problem that is incomprehensibly large.
Circumstances of Freida’s Disappearance
From NamUs, Freida was last known to have gone camping with a male acquaintance and a young child. This male acquaintance would later be identified as Mark Terrell Walsh. The trio was traveling in a 34ft motor home and stayed at a campground near Table Rock Lake in the Branson area. They are also believed to have stayed near Beaver Lake in Northwest Arkansas.
Freida’s date of last contact is listed as August 17th, 2001. On September 9th, 2001, Mark Walsh and the 11-year-old child arrived in Rule, Arkansas near Green Forest, but Freida was not with them.
According to the Charley Project, Walsh was arrested and charged with abducting the child, as well as sexual offenses. Foul play is suspected in Frank’s case.
Freida’s Disappearance in the Local Media
The first mention of Freida Franks in the media that I can find is this article from the Springfield New-Leader written by Kathryn Buckstaff published on March 23rd, 2004. This article focuses on the criminal case against Mark Walsh for the sexual offenses that he perpetrated while traveling with Freida and her young daughter.
According to this article, in the summer of 2001 the victim and her mother, “Freda” Franks, were living in their car and sometimes stayed with Walsh in his motor home. During this time, Franks returned to the motor home and witnesses Walsh molesting her daughter.
The victim told authorities that after that night, she never saw her mother again. Mark Walsh then began telling people that he was the victim’s father and they continued to travel for eight months. In April 2002, while staying at a Branson West campground, a female friend of Walsh took the victim to a nearby Wal-Mart Supercenter where the girl told the manager what was happening and the Stone County Sheriff’s Department was Called.
Prior to their arrival in Branson West, Walsh was wanted for questioning in a structure fire on County Road 739 near Rule, Arkansas, as well as a threat to a woman and a theft of coins from the residence that burned. The coins were later pawned in Springfield.
After the arrest of Mark Walsh, the young victim was placed in the custody of her father. Mark Walsh pleaded guilty in this case and was sentenced to life in prison.
Searching for Freida Frank
In 2004, Carroll County Sheriff’s investigators assisted a Missouri law enforcement team in a search for Freida Frank’s body south of Green Forest, Arkansas.
According to a 2004 article in the Carroll County News, Stone County, Missouri deputies brought Mark Wlash to Carroll County where he was allegedly going to show authorities where he disposed of the body of Freida Franks two years earlier.
According to Carroll County Investigator Ralph Gordon, Walsh claimed that he burned the body over a three-day period and disposed of the remains in the Osage Creek south of Green Forest. Gordon did not seem to have high hopes for the search, and ultimately nothing was found.
At this point in the investigation, it is reported that the FBI, Arkansas State Police, Barry and Stone counties, and Berryville Police were investigating.
Charges Filed in Freida Frank’s Murder
According to a 2014 article from The Joplin Globe written by Jeff Lehr, Mark Terrell Walsh was charged with the murder of Freida Franks on August 17th, 2001. Mark was at the time service two life terms at the Jefferson City Correctional Center.
Thanks to information discovered by the Newton County Sheriff’s Department, Prosecutor Jake Skouby filed counts of second-degree murder, armed criminal action, and first-degree statutory sodomy against Walsh. Detective Mike Barnett with the Newton County Sheriff’s Department came across the missing-person report of Freida Franks and decided to interview the victim of Walsh in the 2002 case that originally got him sent to prison.
Freida’s daughter disclosed to Detective Barnett the story of the last time she ever saw her mother. Freida has returned to the RV owned by Mark that the three were staying in and caught Walsh in the act of molesting her. Franks began hitting Walsh who reportedly picked up a large knife and attacked Franks, ultimately stabbing her in the chest.
Barnett also found the transcript of an interview conducted by a state trooper in November 2012 with a cellmate of Walsh’s at the Stone County Jail. In this interview, the cellmate stated that Walsh told him he killed a woman named Freida because he feared she might testify against him for molesting a young girl and disposed of the body in Bull Shoals Lake.
Freida Franks is Still Missing
Despite charges being filed and Mark Walsh being behind bars, Freida is still missing. If you have any information, please contact the Stone County Sheriff’s Office at 417-357-6117
|Joplin Globe – Abuse victim’s recall leads to murder charge|
|Springfield News-Leader – State prison inmate is charged in the killing of woman in 2001|
|Springfield News-Leader – Guilt plea ends child rape trial|
|Carroll County News – Search for homicide victim unsuccessful|