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More than 30 years ago, the first murder trial relying on recovered memories as evidence concluded in San Mateo County with a conviction. But what happened to the woman at the center of it?
In 1989, Eileen Franklin-Lipsker accused her father, George Franklin, of murdering her childhood friend, Susan Nason, 20 years earlier in 1969. Franklin-Lipsker said at the time that she'd recovered her long-buried memories of the murder after her own daughter was nearly Nason's age.
After a 1990 trial heavily reliant on Franklin-Lipsker's recovered memories — which she and her sister, Janice Franklin, testified came back without the use of hypnosis — George Franklin was convicted of the murder of Susan Nason and sentenced to life in prison.
After the trial, Franklin-Lipsker co-wrote an autobiographical book and sold the rights to her story for a 1992 TV movie, Fatal Memories, in which she was portrayed by Shelley Long. She became an advocate for the rights of child sexual abuse survivors with repressed memories, appearing on a number of talk shows, including "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "Larry King Live," "Leeza," "Donohue," "TODAY" and several evening news magazine programs, to promote both her paid projects and her advocacy.
According to the Showtime docuseries "Buried," after the trial, the Franklin family — sans George Franklin — fought amongst themselves and ultimately fractured. Eileen Franklin-Lipsker eventually accused her sisters and brother of cooperating with "the enemies"; in turn, they accused her of seeking publicity. Franklin-Lipsker's mother, Leah — who testified against her ex-husband at his trial — publicly recanted her statements of support and said she didn't believe her daughter.
And then in 1995, a federal appeals court threw out her father's conviction, ruling that several errors by the trial judge violated his constitutional right to a fair trial.
While in the process of preparing for a new trial, Franklin-Lipsker's sister, Janice Franklin — with whom Franklin-Lipsker had also had an acrimonious falling-out — called San Mateo County prosecutors and told them that Franklin-Lipsker had, despite her testimony to the opposite, recovered her memories of the murder of Susan Nason via hypnosis. Knowing that her testimony would be ruled out if her recovered memories were developed under hypnosis, Janice Franklin eventually testified, the sisters lied about it.
After Janice Franklin testified to that in a pretrial hearing, prosecutors withdrew the outstanding charges against George Franklin and he was released from prison.
Franklin-Lipsker gave one last series of television interviews, reiterating to Leslie Stahl, Leeza Gibbons and Maria Shriver, among others, that her memories were not false.
The documentarians behind "Buried" stated in a title card at the end of the series, “Eileen Franklin moved to a new state where she lives under a different name. She has since been widowed twice and wishes to remain anonymous.”
They told Variety that they had off-the-record conversations with her, but she did not want to appear on camera.
A childhood friend, Aimee Alotta, who appears in the documentary and still supports Franklin-Lipsker, told documentarians, “Her main goal was to go somewhere and be anonymous, and she’s managed to do that.”
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