Authorities are investigating the murder of a special needs teen, in a plot prosecutors say was inspired by the movie “Manchester by the Sea.”
In February, the body of 16-year-old Jeffrey Franklin was found in a torched Mount Upton home in Chenango County, New York. While it remains unclear how Jeffrey died, it has been confirmed that he was killed by his adoptive parents just before the house was set on fire. Exactly one month later, both Heather, 33, and Ernest Franklin, 35, were indicted on several charges, including murder and arson.
The incident occurred on February 28th, while the couple was at home with Jeffrey watching “Manchester by the Sea.” In the film, three children are killed in a fire that was set by their father, accidentally.
On the night of the incident, Ernest told officials that the fire started accidentally while he went outside to chase after his dogs. Coincidentally, he said Heather was out shopping at the same time. When police arrived, Ernest was reportedly “very calm, cool, collected and pointed to the room where Jeffrey was lying,” Chenango County District Attorney Joseph McBride revealed, adding that “the defendant had no physical injuries from any attempt to save him.”
“Within two hours of that movie playing to this defendant and her husband, Jeffrey’s deceased,” McBride said during the couple’s bail hearing, revealing that Jeffrey’s special needs reportedly, put a “very big strain on the family relationship.”
“She inexplicably left the house, driving around Chenango County and Delaware County, and doesn’t return until the fire totally engulfs the house,” he added.
Heather’s lawyer suggested a reasonable bond, being that she is “innocent until proven guilty,” and not to mention pregnant.
“…She’s a high-risk pregnancy. She already lost one child to a miscarriage a year and a half ago. She deserves to be let free and work toward defending herself,” the lawyer argued before the judge set Heather’s bail at $125,000 cash or $250,000 bond.
Meanwhile, Ernest is being held on $250,000 cash or half a million bond.
According to reports, if convicted, the couple could be sentenced to up to 25 years to life.