OZARKS UNSOLVED: The mysterious murder of Frank Stanton

Published: May. 1, 2023 at 9:27 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) -Franklin ‘Frank’ Stanton was a Vietnam vet who loved his family, according to his kids.

Stanton had traveled the world before deciding to settle in Springfield, Missouri, a place he could finally call home.

He took a paper route job and even got his then 14-year-old son, James Stanton, involved.

“I would grab a bundle and put it on the floorboard-- that way he would be able to grab it and throw it,” James recalled.

The father-son duo worked the early morning shift, driving their 1985 maroon Toyota two-wheel drive pickup and delivering 800 papers on Sunday mornings. It was a difficult job, but they managed to get it done.

On June 10, 1993, Frank woke up James and told him it was time to go on their paper route. James decided to hang back.

“I was just tired, and you know, I’m a young kid and stayed up too late. And I told him that I was going to stay home,” James said.

Frank left the house, but James went back to sleep. It wasn’t until a phone call from Frank’s boss at the paper that James woke up again. Frank had not arrived to pick up his papers. When James told his boss that Frank had left, he received a second call, this time from Frank’s boss. Frank still hadn’t arrived.

“He called again and said can you check and make sure. So, I went upstairs, and his truck was gone. I said, ‘No, he already left’,” James said.

Around 4:30 a.m., an off-duty police officer discovered Stanton’s truck on the side of the road in the 1300 block of E. Republic Road, the route he would take to work. Frank was inside with a small amount of blood dripping out of his ear. James got one more big phone call that night.

“I got another call from the Springfield Police Department. They found him deceased,” James said.

At the time of the call, they didn’t know the cause of death because of the small amount of blood, they thought it could be an aneurysm. But an autopsy found a 32-caliber bullet in his head. “Just somebody knows something,” said Tricia Miller, Stanton’s daughter, who wants to know why.

“We just really want some answers. We were hoping that someone in the public has something that they’d like to share and give us some-- some idea of who and why this happened to our dad,” Miller said.

Something that still baffles those familiar with the case. There were no witnesses, no clues, except for one blurry photo of a man that the Springfield Police Department released. The picture was taken at a convenience store near the crime scene, close to the time it took place.

Tricia just wants to help heal her and her siblings’ wounds. They say the answer would help bring closure and a closeness-- that she never experienced with her dad because she never met him.

“I was actually adopted when my dad came back from the army,” Miller said. Another sibling was also adopted.

The family is asking for your help. If you have any information on what happened that night you’re asked to call the Springfield Police Department at (417) 864-1810.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com