FRESNO, Calif. -- The sister of Max Bernard Franc said she and her parents were shocked to learn that the supposedly mild-mannered college professor was being held in the chain saw dismemberment of a teenage youth.
Franc, 57, a public administration professor at Cal State Fresno, was arrested in Los Angeles during the weekend after authorities found parts of a body in Madera County and in northern Los Angeles County. He was scheduled for arraignment today.
'This is a terrible, terrible shock for us,' Carol Waiters, 55, a social worker from Philadelphia, said in a telephone interview from her elderly parents' home in De Pere, Wis. 'I'm just very, very sad.'
Franc has denied committing the killing, telling Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators that 'another party' killed the suspected teenage prostitute, who authorities believe was slain in a West Hollywood apartment rented by the professor. The teenager, who has not been identified, had first been shot in the head.
Authorities have refused to comment on Franc's story, but said they were looking for a man who returned the chain saw to the rental shop last week hours after it was rented by Franc. He was described as about 30 years old with shoulder-length hair.
Franc was arrested after workers cleaning the chain saw at the rental shop found blood and human tissue and reported it to police.
A search of Franc's Fresno home turned up a large amount of homosexual pornography, including videotapes and magazines, police said. They also reported that a soundproof room was under construction at the Fresno house.
Waiters, who was visiting her parents, Max E. Franc, 82, and Grace Franc, 80, said she was aware of her brother's homosexuality, but her parents did not know about it until Tuesday, when they also learned of their son's arrest in a telephone call from a Milwaukee newspaper reporter.
She said her father suffered a heart attack a few months ago and both parents are in declining health.
'There were two issues they had to deal with, the homosexuality and the suspected homicide,' Waiters said. 'I come from a very religious background. This has been very, very difficult for them to accept.'
Waiters said she saw her brother in May when he visited her Philadelphia home after delivering a paper in Washington, D.C.
'That was the first time I had seen him in a number of years,' she said. 'The visit went very well.'
De Pere is a community of about 16,000 near Green Bay. Franc's father was described by local officials as a deeply religious man and local historian. He was a part-time director of De Pere's welfare agency until 1982 and served as a curator of the local museum until 1984.
Waiters agreed with descriptions of her brother by university officials as 'mild-mannered' and noted he was admired by his students. One professor's wife referred to him as 'Gentle Max.'
'He often spoke about 'the good people,'' Waiters said, referring to people her brother liked. 'He would have parties for 'the good people.''