Authorities study if others involved in crime spree slayings

EMERY P. DALESIO, Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina authorities are investigating whether accomplices may have helped a Carolinas crime spree suspect who later killed himself in a Pennsylvania motel room, a sheriff said Monday.

Investigators interviewed two other people who may have been with Lloyd Wayne Franklin near a Thomasville house hours before 82-year-old Davie Lee McSwain and his 78-year-old wife, Joan, were killed inside, Davidson County Sheriff David Grice said. The two suspects were interviewed and denied involvement, but forensic tests will determine if they were at the slaying scene with the 34-year-old Franklin, Grice said.

Investigators are "inclined that he may have been alone, but we want to make sure we eliminate that possibility" that Franklin had accomplices, Grice said.

Authorities believe Davie McSwain shot and wounded Franklin during an attempted home robbery. An autopsy confirmed Franklin had suffered two earlier bullet wounds before killing himself Saturday in a Trevose, Pennsylvania, motel room surrounded by police.

After the North Carolina slayings, the wounded Franklin picked up Jennifer Michelle Lanning, 38, and the two had been on the run since Oct. 29, when the McSwains were found dead. Lanning now faces two counts of accessory after the fact to murder, Grice said.

The two robbed pharmacies in Aberdeen and Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, and Georgetown, South Carolina, getting away with prescription painkillers before heading north, officials said.

Franklin and Lanning were undone after picking up a hitchhiker police were seeking for a parole violation. Police were looking for the hitchhiker, identified as James Miller, when officers knocked on the motel room door and were fired on.

"Our officers obviously had no idea there were people wanted for murder in the room," Bensalem Police Lt. William McVey said. To be met by gunfire "is the most stressful situation you can encounter as a police officer."

Lanning and Miller surrendered and left the room. Franklin was found dead inside.

Three Davidson County investigators and a North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation agent were in Pennsylvania on Monday to interview Lanning, Grice said. Authorities will seek her extradition to face charges in North Carolina, the sheriff said.

Miller, 53, was sent to prison on the parole violation for which officers had been seeking him and is not expected to be charged further, McVey said.