5 quick facts to know about the murder of Nailah Franklin (2023)

Nailah Franklin's death will be the focus of Oxygen's Dateline: Unforgettable Season 2 Episode 5 that is set to air on Tuesday, July 5, 2022, at 8 PM. Titled Smoke and Mirrors, the episode will feature correspondent Keith Morrison reflecting on the harrowing 2007 murder case of Nailah Franklin, a Chicago woman who went missing on September 18 of the same year.

Combining an in-depth journalistic exploration of the case with an emotional, cinematic angle, the true-crime docuseries will highlight a case that took nearly eight years to resolve. Here are five quick facts to know ahead of Tuesday night's episode.

Nailah Franklin's untimely death: A quick guide to the 2007 murder case

Nailah Franklin, a 28 year old pharmaceuticals rep from Chicago, went missing on September 18, 2007 and was tragically found dead nine days later. Investigators zeroed in on Reginald Potts, Nailah's former beau, to be the killer. The murder was a classic case of a cowardly domestic abuser seeking revenge after getting dumped.

1) Nailah Franklin was reportedly asphyxiated by Reginald Potts

After Nailah Franklin went missing from her University Village condominium, a report was filed merely a day later. Three days later, her black Chevrolet Impala was found in Hammond, Indiana. It was wiped clean and no signs of DNA or fingerprints were found.

Nine days later, the authorities found her badly decomposed body in a desolated wooden area behind a vacant video store in Calumet City. Due to her body being almost skeletonized over a period of ten days, it took medical examiners a while to identify the cause of her death as asphyxiation.

An investigation into Nailah's homicide led the authorities to suspect a man she'd been casually dating. Reginald Potts, her ex-boyfriend, had a felonious past and he was unfaithful to her on multiple occasions. So, she broke up with him and told her friends about his crimes. Thereafter, he began stalking her and threatening her via calls and emails.

2) Potts impersonated Franklin after her death

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Reginald Potts continued to text Nailah Franklin's family and friends using her device even after her death to convince them that she was alive. During the trial, Nailah's then-boyfriend Andre Wright testified that after he called and left her a voicemail, he received a cryptic response from her number: "At a dinner. Call you Back."

The next day, he sent her an email asking, "Are you alive?" She wasn't, as per the Cook County prosecutors. Wright and Franklin would often email and call each other, which is why silence on her part was unusual.

Potts also allegedly texted Nailah's supervisor pretending to be her. During the trial, her supervisor testified that he had called her to let her know about a field ride he had scheduled with her that week.

3) Potts has a lengthy criminal history with reportedly 200+ violations while in prison

NEW EPISODE @CourtJunkiePod: In September 2007, 28-year-old Nailah Franklin disappeared from her apartment in Chicago. Even though an arrest was made shortly thereafter, the suspect’s trial wouldn’t begin for another eight years.Listen now: apple.co/3uvOTV9 https://t.co/QHNyTm9tpG

During his trial, Judge Thomas Gainer noted that Potts had been in "continuous custody" for criminal behavior since 1996, according to a report by CBS News. He was described as someone prone to angry outbursts, with a history of domestic violence against at least two women.

As per a report by ABC7 Chicago, Cook County Jail Chief Terry Williams testified that Potts had committed over 200 violations while in custody. These included setting fire in his cell and sabotaging plumbing. He also ranked Potts among the top ten worst inmates he'd seen in his career.

During his sentencing, Judge Gainer called Potts a "cold, calculating, conniving coward of a con man who must be punished."

4) No physical or conclusive evidence was ever found linking Potts to Franklin's death

BREAKING: Jury finds Reginald Potts guilty of murder in 2007 death of Nailah Franklin: abc7.ws/1Sh2xyW https://t.co/6iBaWjS3YV

With any and all DNA, fibers, and fingerprints wiped off of Franklin's vehicle and her body decayed to the bones, no physical incriminating evidence was ever found linking Potts to her murder. Instead, the prosecution presented a mountain of circumstantial evidence tying Potts to the crime.

Over 30 witnesses testified against Potts during the trial, many of whom described him as a volatile con man prone to making death threats. Moreover, days before Nailah's disappearance, she had told her friend that if she went missing or something happened to her, it would be Reginald's doing.

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Surveillance tapes from Nailah Franklin's condo complex placed Potts in her building the day she disappeared. There were also threatening calls and emails Reginald had sent to Nailah, including one in which he told her he'd "erase her a**" and make her "disappear."

5) Potts maintained that he was innocent

Judge set to sentence convicted killer of Nailah Franklin after unusually lengthy hearing trib.in/1U1jOiQ https://t.co/JCUviSjCEi

After being sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, Potts spoke up in his defense, refuting the claims against him of stalking and murdering Nailah Franklin. He spoke for 40 minutes and presented himself as the victim of an untrue narrative, largely promulgated by the media.

He denied having any anger towards Nailah and iterated that he was a very outspoken person who was not violent. He tried to turn the narrative around by telling the judge that he did not stalk Nailah, and instead asked her to stop calling him. He also defended his infractions while in prison by arguing that he was targeted by the guards.

He further argued that the women he dated in the past were at fault for different reasons and that he never wronged them. "I stand before you, and I say that I am innocent," he said.

Dateline: Unforgettable Season 2 Episode 5 airs on Oxygen on Tuesday, July 5, 2022 at 8 PM.

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