A pregnant mother accused with her husband of killing their 16-year-old special needs son may have been inspired by the Oscar-winning movie Manchester By The Sea.
In late February, firefighters found 16-year-old Jeffrey Franklin dead in an upstate New York home that had been engulfed in flames. An investigation later revealed that Jeffrey was not killed in the fire but died beforehand. As Crime Online previously reported, Jeffrey’s parents parents raised $11,000 in a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign following their son’s death. GoFundMe has since returned the money to donors.
According to Fox News, Prosecutors are now claiming that his adoptive parents, Ernest and Heather Franklin, killed the boy after watching the movie Manchester by the Sea, in which a children die in a fire accidentally set by the their father, played by Casey Affleck. In the film, the father is not held criminally responsible.
Chenango County District Attorney Joseph McBride reportedly said in court that Heather Franklin had been overwhelmed by caring for the boy, and had spoke of her struggles on Facebook. And he thinks the movie may have given her an idea for a way out.
“That night, according to the defendant, she watched a movie called ‘Manchester by the Sea.’ And in that movie, Judge, the main character in that movie kills his children by an accidental fire and is told in the movie that you can’t be prosecuted for accidentally killing your children,” McBride said during the bail review. “Within two hours of that movie playing to this defendant and her husband, Jeffrey’s deceased.”
Heather Franklin, who is now pregnant, reportedly left the house that evening and did not return until the housefire was well underway. It is unclear where Ernest Franklin was at the time of the fire. The couple’s dogs were let out of the house that night and survived the blaze.
According to People magazine, when firefighters arrived at the home, there was no evidence that Heather had tried to enter the house to save her son.
McBride reportedly said in court that the boy’s mother calmly pointed to Jeffrey’s room when police arrived to the scene. The exact cause of death has not yet been determined.
Both Heather and Ernest Franklin have been charged with murder, arson and tampering with physical evidence. If convicted they could face 25 years in prison.