Warrant for hitchhiker leads cops to suspects in 2 slayings


PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A North Carolina man suspected in a Southern crime spree that included a double slaying is dead after a warrant for a hitchhiker he and his girlfriend picked up led police to the motel where they were holed up in suburban Philadelphia.

The sheriff’s office in Davidson County, North Carolina, identified the couple as Lloyd Wayne Franklin, 34, and Jennifer Michelle Lanning, 38. Officials in Pennsylvania said Franklin was found dead in the motel room and Lanning surrendered to police.

They have been on the lam since Oct. 29, when police found the bodies of Davie Lee McSwain, 82, and his wife, Joan McSwain, 78, in their Thomasville home and their minivan missing.

Authorities believe Davie McSwain shot Franklin before he died. After he fled with a gun stolen from the home, police said, he picked up Lanning and the two stole prescription painkillers during pharmacy robberies in Aberdeen and Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, and Georgetown, South Carolina, before apparently heading north.

Fred Harran, public safety director for Bensalem, Pennsylvania, said that along the way the couple picked up a hitchhiker who turned out to be wanted for a parole violation for an auto theft conviction.

“They picked up the wrong hitchhiker,” Harran said. “Criminals picking up criminals … bad luck for all of them.”

When officers found out the man wanted on the parole violation was in the area, they knocked on the door of the Knights Inn motel room in Trevose at about 3 p.m. Saturday, Harran said. Franklin answered and apparently assumed police were after him for the homicides.

He opened fire on the officers, who weren’t hit and didn’t return fire because they knew other people were in the room, Harran said.

Lanning then surrendered and told police two men were in the room, one with a gunshot wound. The second man held police at bay for about 2 1/2 hours but also surrendered, police said.

Franklin was found dead in the room of a gunshot wound, but police have not determined how he died, Harran said.

“It appears the individual may have killed himself so as not to be taken into custody by police,” Harran said.

The hitchhiker was not identified Saturday.

The McSwains’ son found the bodies of his parents, police said. The home had been ransacked, so police believe it was a home-invasion robbery.

The pharmacy robberies netted Franklin 1,800 tablets of the painkiller Opana and patches of fentanyl, Davidson County Sheriff David Grice said.

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