Heather and Ernest Franklin mugshots

Photos via Chenango County Sheriff/The Daily Star (Public Domain) Remix by Jason Reed

Prosecutor alleges couple killed son after watching ‘Manchester by the Sea’

The Oscar-winning film is now also on trial.


Audra Schroeder


A prosecutor in a Mount Upton, New York, murder case is pointing the finger at Oscar-winning film Manchester by the Sea.

On Feb. 28, the home of Heather and Ernest Franklin burned down and their adopted son, 16-year-old Jeffrey, was found dead. The parents were later charged with his murder (as well as arson and evidence tampering), and in a court transcript, Chenango County District Attorney Joseph McBride suggests the Casey Affleck film influenced the parents’ actions.

Judge, in this particular case, the defendant and her husband, co-defendant, were at home with Jeffrey on the night of February 28th. That night, according to this defendant, she watched a movie called Manchester by the Sea. And in that movie, Judge, the main character in that movie kills his children by an accidental fire and is told in the movie that you can’t be prosecuted for accidentally killing your children, and within two hours of that movie playing to this defendant and her husband, Jeffrey’s deceased. She inexplicably left the house, driving around Chenango County and Delaware County, and doesn’t return until the fire totally engulfs the house.

Jeffrey, who had special needs and was adopted in 2012, was not found to have any physical signs of smoke or soot in his mouth. Heather Franklin’s attorney maintained his client, who is currently pregnant, is “innocent until proven guilty.”

The Franklins could face up to 25 years if convicted.


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