A New York state couple arrested in March on charges that they killed their teenage son in a murder inspired by the Oscar-winning film Manchester by the Sea had talked on Facebook about their unhappiness with their son, according to court documents obtained by People magazine.
Jeffrey Franklin, the adopted son of Ernest and Heather Franklin, was found dead in his home on March 1 after a large fire his parents allegedly set to cover up his murder, court documents said.
Chenango County Distract Attorney Joseph McBride claimed that the Franklins killed their son after watching the 2016 movie Manchester By The Sea, which involves the main character’s children dying in an accidental fire.
But an autopsy revealed that Jeffrey had died before the fire at the family’s house, police said.
Just several days before Jeffrey’s death, Heather had messaged a friend about her frustrations with her son—who was developmentally disabled, deaf, and mute—on Facebook, court records said.
“Been struggling with jr,” she wrote. “I guess no real surprise there.”
“I know it’s always hard,” the friend replied. “Same old, same old or some new problems?”
“Both,” Heather replied. “He is peeing in his room again. For about the past 2 or 3 weeks. Almost nightly. Last episode of this was last summer. So went a few months with nothing…now he started it again. His room smells so bad! Every day it’s the same thing, cleaning pee…it’s crazy.”
“I so badly want out…dealing with jr peeing all over his room again for past few weeks,” she added. “It punishes me more than him.”
The couple’s lawyers counter that the evidence against the Franklins are circumstantial, and that the Manchester By The Sea theory is a “leap.”
“It is important that the public realizes that the theory being advanced by the DA is just that, a theory,” said Ernest’s lawyer, public defender Zachary T. Wentworth. “One meant to sway the public opinion on this case long before Mr. or Mrs. Franklin are provided a fair trial.”