On The Murder Tapes this week, husband and wife Ernest and Heather Franklin murdered their disabled adopted son, Jeffrey Franklin, in their home in rural Guilford, New York.
The couple attempted to hide their dreadful crime by setting fire to the house. They got the idea from watching the movie Manchester By the Sea, which involved Casey Affleck’s character learning that he could not be prosecuted for killing his children if they died in an accidental house fire.
Jeffrey’s remains were uncovered by firefighters on March 1, 2017. When the first responders arrived at the burning house, Jeffrey’s father Ernest neglected to tell firefighters that his son was still inside until he was explicitly asked if there was anyone left inside.
Ernest then directed the firefighters to the wrong bedroom window, thereby slowing their efforts to get to Jeffrey. However, from Jeffrey’s point of view, it didn’t matter as he was already dead.
Firefighters and investigators noticed a few red flags from the very beginning. Ernest and Heather never seemed particularly concerned about the welfare of Jeffrey. They seemed far more worried about their household pets.
Jeffrey Franklin was murdered before the fire
A subsequent examination of Jeffey’s remains led to an alarming find. Jeffrey had no evidence of ash or smoke in his lungs, indicating he had died before the fire. Unfortunately, his badly burnt body meant it was impossible to determine the actual cause of death.
The troubled 16-year-old Jeffrey Franklin had been adopted seven years previously, by the couple who had tried and failed to have children of their own. On the surface, Jeffrey’s adoption seemed like a fairytale happy ending for the troubled child who was autistic as well as deaf.
However, neighbors and friends of the family began noticing that there was a lot of tension in the family. When Heather spoke about her son, she did so to complain about his behavior, and she spoke bitterly.
And when Heather became unexpectedly pregnant, it seems they lost interest in their adopted son and hatched a plan to murder him.
In 2019, Ernest and Heather Franklin were convicted of murder. Ernest was convicted by a jury and sentenced to 21 years to life in prison. Heather entered a plea deal admitting that she vacated the property, knowing what Ernest planned to do. She also confessed to helping cover up the murder and was sentenced to 7 to 11 years.
More from The Murder Tapes
Follow the links to read about more crimes profiled on The Murder Tapes.
Last week on the show, transgender woman Ty Underwood was shot dead by her Texas college football player boyfriend, Carlton Ray Champion Jr. The pair had argued angrily as their relationship fell apart one night. Underwood tried to escape after being shot by driving away, but she succumbed to her injuries.
Delvin’ Buckii’ Meadows was found late one night slumped on a neighbors porch in Blytheville, Arkansas; he had been shot dead. His murder remained a mystery for 15 months before the police arrested and charged 19-year-old Quincy Whitfield.
The Murder Tapes air at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.