Movie May Have Inspired Couple to Kill Son, Says DA

'Manchester by the Sea' cited by the district attorney
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 12, 2017 12:35 PM CDT
Acclaimed Film Figures in Couple's Murder Charges
Heather and Ernest Franklin have been charged with murdering their adopted son.   (Mugshots)

A New York couple has been charged with murdering their adopted son, and authorities say they may have gotten the idea from a film that just picked up two Oscars. (Note: The following reveals key parts of that film, Manchester by the Sea.) The district attorney says Ernest and Heather Franklin watched the movie on the night of Feb. 28; two hours later, their house burned down with 16-year-old Jeffrey Franklin inside, WBNG reports. In Manchester by the Sea, the main character accidentally starts a fire that kills his children and is told he can't be prosecuted for an accidental fire. The DA says Jeffrey, adopted by the Franklins around 2012, had special needs and "was a handful." Jeffrey had "bowel issues" and "urine control issues," and Heather reportedly complained on Facebook about the hardships of raising him.

Ernest allegedly told authorities the fire was an accident that happened while his wife was out shopping. Heather, who is pregnant, reportedly said she was driving around to various stores looking for a specific drug while the house burned; the DA says authorities believe they have proof she wasn't. The couple's dogs had been let outside prior to the fire, and no one but Jeffrey was inside at the time. The DA says there is no evidence Ernest tried to rescue Jeffrey; there is, however, evidence Jeffrey was killed before the fire started—the lack of smoke in his lungs, for one. Heather, 33, and Ernest, 35, have been charged with murder, arson, and tampering with physical evidence. (More child murder stories.)

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