For weeks, a couple in upstate New York earned sympathy — and $11,000 in crowdfunding money — for what they claimed was a tragic fire that took their adopted teenage son’s life.
But according to CBS News, an autopsy revealed that the boy, who was deaf and had special needs, died before their Guilford, New York, home caught fire on March 1. Jeffrey Franklin was 16, and had been adopted by the suspects seven years prior.
Ernest Franklin and wife Heather Franklin pictures,killed their adopted special-needs son Jeffrey Franklin https://t.co/b63S8Grr4z pic.twitter.com/5BOnnpI3nQ
— infowe (@infowe) March 23, 2017
Now his parents, Ernest Franklin II, 35, and Heather Franklin, 33, are facing charges of second-degree murder, arson, and tampering with physical evidence. Both entered not guilty pleas, but according to WBNG, Ernest Franklin first replied “guilty” in court when asked for his plea, before his public defender corrected him.
Investigators have not yet revealed the cause of death.
A GoFundMe page to help the parents pay for a memorial service and repair reportedly raised over $11,000. The crowdfunding platform has taken down the campaign and will refund all the money raised, per company policy.
Ernest and Heather Franklin are being held without bail in the Chenango County Jail.