NY Couple Accused Of Murdering Adopted Son Before Fire

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Authorities have suspected foul play from the first moments the disabled boy’s body was discovered in the ashes of an upstate New York family home.

The adopted 16-year-old boy, Jeffrey Franklin, with special needs, did not perish in an early-morning blaze which appeared to have started in the wood stove that heated the house investigators said.

“Early on, almost immediately at the scene that night, some red flags went up,” Chenango County Sheriff Ernest Cutting Jr. said “We chose to kind of keep it close to the vest.”

Jeffrey’s adopted parents were indicted on second-degree murder and arson charges on Friday, just weeks after the fire which authorities allege they started to cover up the killing.Ernest Franklin II, 35, and wife Heather, 33, are also accused of meddling with physical evidence. They could therefore face additional charges, according to Cutting.

Authorities have not said how or when Jeffrey was killed.

It’s shocking,” Cutting cried. “Jeffrey was a handicapped person who was totally reliant on his parents. You would hope in your mind that they would be there for the right reasons and try to take care of this boy. Unfortunately, his life ended brutally.”

The couple reportedly adopted Jeffrey six or seven years ago, according to Cutting. Franklin had served in the military; his wife stayed home to care for their adopted son.

Jeffrey was developmentally challenged,” Cutting said. “He was also physically handicapped — pretty much in a wheelchair.”

Heather Franklin is currently 28 weeks pregnant, the sheriff said.

Investigators are looking into the possibility that Jeffrey may have been physically abused in the past and the Franklins, who were arrested earlier this week, are being held without bail.


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