March 8, 2019
Murder Etc. investigates the murder of Frank Looper, Charles Wakefield’s innocence
On January 31, 1975, Frank Looper and his father, Rufus Looper ,were shot dead in Rufus’s garage. Frank Looper was the head of the narcotics unit in Greenville, South Carolina. The murder was declared an armed robbery gone bad, and shortly afterward Charles Wakefield was accused of the crime. In February of 1976, Wakefield was convicted of the double murder and sentenced to death. In 1978, South Carolina’s death penalty was overturned in federal court and Wakefield’s sentence was commuted to life in prison. Over the next 40 years, he would fight for his freedom, claiming innocence of this crime. In 2010, he was paroled. He is still fighting to clear his name.
Brad Willis is a reporter from Greenville, South Carolina and has been investigating this case for the last 17 years. Last week, he launched a podcast called Murder, etc. in which he details elements of the case through extensive interviews. The first two episodes are already available and you can learn much more by listening to them.
[caption id="attachment_5185" align="alignleft" width="220"] Claudia and Charles[/caption]
Claudia Whitman, the director of National Capital Crime Assistant Network (NCCAN), was the long-time coordinator of the Quixote Center’s Grassroots Investigation Project (GRIP), during which time she worked with Charles. They remain close. Charles currently serves on the board of directors of NCCAN.
The Quixote Center’s support for Claudia’s work through GRIP was always supplemental to the core support she received from her own network of donors and NCCAN. We are nevertheless happy to see the work carrying forward and hopeful that Charles may one day get the full pardon so many people familiar with the case – including members of Looper’s own family – believe he deserves.
To follow and/or support the work of NCCAN, visit their website here.
Charles Wakefield is now living in North Carolina and, among other pursuits, is an gifted artist. You can visit his website, and view some of his work here.
To keep up with podcast, Murder, etc. visit the site and subscribe through whichever platform you prefer to listen. The podcast itself is free.