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Franklin Robideau
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Birth: unknown
Death: Jan. 15, 1938
Columbus
Stillwater County
Montana, USA

His real name was Joseph Liberty and he also used the alias Frank Johnson. He was hanged for the murder of husband and wife, Michael and Frieda Kuntz in Columbus, Montana on November 26, 1937. He was the only man to be legally hanged in Stillwater County, Montana. On the fateful day he had gone to the Occidental Grain Elevator to get paid for 180 bushels of grain that he had delivered. Mike Kuntz, manager of the grain elevator, explained to Robideau that he could only be paid for two-thirds of the grain because one-third belonged to the man who owned the farm that Robideau worked. Robideau forced Kuntz to write him several checks and warned him against saying anything. Later that evening Robideau saw the Kuntz family headed toward town in the family car and flagged them down assuming they were going to the authorities. Robideau jumped into the back seat and ordered them to drive back to the grain elevator. When Mike refused he shot him in the back of the head. Frieda then jumped her husband's murderer and he shot her through the heart. The Kuntz's five-year-old son, Larry, was also in the car and Robideau began to pistol whip him so hard that a piece of the wooden gunstock was buried in the boys head. Robideau said he couldn't kill the boy because he reminded him of his own son. He drove the car back to the elevator, parked it inside, and placed "closed" signs on all the doors. Larry managed to walk to a nearby store despite his terrible wounds and said, "They killed my momma and papa." He lost consciousness before he could identify the killer. The next morning, while in his hospital bed, Larry was able to identify Robideau as the murderer.

Robideau's fingerprints identified him as Joseph Liberty an escaped convict from New York where he and his brother were serving time for the murder of David Varno in Clinton County, New York. After escaping from a road gang in 1922 he worked his way west and arrived in Montana in about 1928. He met and married a daughter of a prominent Montana rancher and by 1937 they had three children and were prosperous until hit by really hard times.

He pled not guilty to the murders on Saturday, December 11, 1937 and on the following Wednesday he entered a plea of mercy and left his fate up to the court. During his confession, one of the reasons he gave for the murder was that his wife was going to have another baby and they needed the money. On December 24 she gave birth to a daughter and in a twist of fate it was to Mrs. Kuntz that was to have been Mrs. Robideau's midwife.

On the gallows, Robideau wanted to flip a coin with one of the deputies to determine if the deputy would take his place. His last words were, "Well, good-bye boys." At 1:10 in the morning the trap door opened and he became the third of four men to hang in Montana without a trial by jury. His neck was broken and sixteen minutes later he was declared dead.

Mrs. Robideau and her children moved away from Columbus and eventually the grain company sent her the money which caused the chain of events to occur.
 
 
Burial:
Mountain View Cemetery
Columbus
Stillwater County
Montana, USA
 
Created by: Tom Todd
Record added: Sep 19, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 42132152
Franklin Robideau
Added by: Tom Todd
 
Franklin Robideau
Cemetery Photo
Added by: James Seidelman
 
 
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- Tom Todd
 Added: Sep. 19, 2009
 
 
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