The allegations against New York parents Ernest Franklin II and wife Heather are nothing short of horrific; the pair are accused of killing their 16-year-old adopted, disabled son. Police say that the pair, ages 35 and 33-years-old respectively, even went so far as to stage a March 1 house fire to cover up their depraved crime.In fact, that's where investigators found the remains of the 16-year-old special needs teen, a teen so profoundly disabled both mentally and physically that he required the nearly constant care of his parents. Jefferey Franklin's body was found among the ashes of the family's New York home in the early morning hours of March 1.
"It's shocking. 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."As CNN reported, first responders immediately realized something was not right when they responded to the home southeast of Syracuse, New York. The "deadly" blaze was said to have started in the home's wood stove, which the New York parents reportedly used as a heat source. The Chenango County Sheriff claims that "red flags" went up right away when they saw what remained of the home and the New York parent's disabled son. However, they didn't point fingers immediately.
"Early on, almost immediately at the scene that night, some red flags went up. We chose to kind of keep it close to the vest."It took weeks for Earnest and Heather Franklin to be charged in connection with killing their disabled son. New York prosecutors indicted the allegedly murderous parents on March 24, charging the them with second-degree murder and arson. According to authorities, the disabled teen's parents started the "deadly" fire to cover up the fact that they'd already killed 16-year-old Jeffrey. As such, the couple also stands accused of evidence tampering, and will likely face more charges as the case against them is fleshed out and the truth of the circumstances of the alleged killing of their dependent disabled son is revealed.
The New York parents reportedly adopted their disabled son six or seven years ago, and Heather Franklin immediately assumed the role of the child's primary caregiver, living as a stay-at-home mom while her husband was deployed in the military. The job of mothering a physically and developmentally disabled child was, without question, a difficult and grueling one for a young mother.
"Jeffrey was developmentally challenged. He was also physically handicapped -- pretty much in a wheelchair."However, the challenge was something that the Franklins signed up for willingly and had handled for over half a decade. So what changed? What could possibly have prompted the New York parents to take the horrific step of killing their disabled son, as authorities allege? While investigators have yet to release a possible motive in the tragic case, the Chenango County Sheriff has announced that Heather Franklin is 28 weeks pregnant.
In addition to the second-degree murder and other charges already levied against the New York parents in connection with the alleged killing of their disabled son, investigators in the case are also trying to determine if young Jeffrey Franklin may have suffered abuse in the past.
Specifically, if his parents may have physically abused the teen leading up to his murder.
Not surprisingly, law enforcement authorities are far from the only ones disgusted and horrified by the fate of Jeffrey Franklin. At least one neighbor, Dominick Gildersleeve, took it upon himself to spearhead fundraising efforts for the New York parents who appeared to have lost everything in that terrible March 1 fire. Gildersleeve created a GoFundMe page that gathered over $10,000, which was intended to help the Franklin family rebuild and get on with their lives after their tragic loss.
Since the parents were charged in connection with the killing of their son, that GoFundMe campaign has been cancelled and the crowdfunding site has vowed to return money to donors. According to Dominick Gildersleeve, at least two people/families who contributed to the Franklin's cause gave $1,000 - no small amount.
"I have been absolutely, horrifically betrayed."So far, investigators haven't said how the teen died or what led them to believe that he had been killed by his parents so quickly into their investigation.
The New York parents are currently being held at the Chenango County Jail without bail in connection with the killing of their disabled son; their attorneys have declined to comment to the media regarding the case.
[Featured Image by Chenango County Jail]