Couple Inspired By 'Manchester By The Sea' Allegedly Burned House With Child Inside

Within two hours of watching the movie, their house was in flames.

By Aimée Lutkin

A couple was charged with the murder of their son, a 16-year-old with mental and physical handicaps. Prosecutors say that Ernest and Heather Franklin allegedly made the decision to kill their child, Jeffrey Franklin, after watching Manchester by the Sea.

The film stars Casey Affleck as a man who accidentally sets a house fire that kills his children. He is consequently not prosecuted for their deaths. ABC News reports that Chenango County District Attorney Joseph McBride explained during the bail hearing that the Franklins watched Manchester by the Sea on February 28, days after Affleck won Best Actor at the Academy Awards for his performance. Hours after they watched the film, their house went up in flames with Jeffrey’s body inside. “Within two hours of that movie playing to this defendant and her husband, Jeffrey's deceased,” said McBride.

The fire was reported at about 1:15 a.m. on March 1, and officials rushed to the house, situated outside Syracuse, N.Y. Ernest Franklin was at the scene to indicate to fireman where Jeffrey’s room was. He told authorities that he had been away from the house chasing the family’s dogs when the fire started. Heather Franklin alleges that she was driving to various stores around town looking for a specific item, returning home at about 2:30 a.m. 

Their motive was not immediately apparent.

During the bail hearing, McBride revealed that an autopsy showed Jeffrey Franklin was already dead when the fire started. "The victim was badly burned," he explained, "Because of the damage to the body by the fire, the pathologist is not able to determine the cause of death."

As of Wednesday, neither had posted bail. 

[Image: Chenango County Sheriff's Department]

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