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DEADLY FIRE: Parents indicted in son's murder


ANTHONY BORRELLI   | aborrelli@pressconnects.com | @PSBABorrelli

The parents of a Chenango County teenager are accused of killing him Feb. 28, then trying to destroy his body by starting a fire inside their trailer home, according to an indictment.

Ernest Franklin II, 35, and Heather Franklin, 33, of 457 State Highway 8 in the Town of Guilford were indicted Friday by the Chenango County grand jury in connection with the death of 16-year-old Jeffrey Franklin, whose body was found after a blaze destroyed the family's residence.

The indictment charges Ernest and Heather Franklin with felony counts of second-degree murder, third-degree arson and tampering with physical evidence. If convicted, they face a maximum penalty of 25 years to life in state prison.

Prosecutors allege the boy was killed Feb. 28, and both his parents acted together in committing the crime. A motive has not been disclosed by law enforcement officials.

According to the indictment, on Feb. 28, the defendants, "believing that a prospective official investigation in a homicide would take place, and while acting in concert with another, did intentionally prevent the production of the body of Jeffrey R. Franklin."

The fire was intentionally set in the family's double wide trailer home and caused a "complete loss" to the property, the indictment alleges. Prosecutors have not said what allegedly accelerated the fire.

Investigators later traced the source of the fire to a wood stove, which was the main heating source for the residence, according to Chenango County Sheriff's deputies.

Emergency responders converged on the Guilford residence after a 911 call around 1:15 a.m. reported the structure fire. Sheriff's deputies say the home was already engulfed in flames within minutes of their arrival at the scene.

Prosecutors have not disclosed how Jeffrey Franklin was allegedly murdered. The indictment alleges Ernest and Heather Franklin caused the victim's death intentionally.

An autopsy determined the fire did not cause Jeffrey Franklin's death and that he was deceased prior to the fire, according to Sheriff Ernest Cutting.

Ernest and Heather Franklin have been held in the Chenango County jail since they were taken into custody March 21. Further proceedings are being scheduled in Chenango County Court as a result of the indictment.

On Twitter: @PSBABorrelli

2017 Mar 27