Authorities say teen was dead before fire; parents arrested for murder

GUILFORD – A couple has been charged with the murder of their 16-year-old son, according to authorities.

On March 1, the Chenango County 911 Center received a report of a structure fire located at 457 State Highway 8 in New Berlin.

Deputies responded and it was said the residence was completely engulfed in flames. It was further reported that there was a 16-year-old youth inside the home. In the March 2 edition of The Evening Sun, it was reported that the caused of death appeared to be from the main heating source of the residence, a wood stove.

“Investigators believe the fire was set to cover up the apparent murder of Jeffrey,” read a release from the Chenango County Sheriff’s Office.



Per a release from law enforcement on Tuesday, March 21, an autopsy was said to have found that the fire did not cause Jeffrey’s death. It was reported that he was deceased prior to the fire.

Per a document provided to The Evening Sun, Detective John Fern alleges that the boy was murdered the evening of Feb. 28, 2017.

The Chenango County Sheriff’s Office said that the parents of the deceased were arrested and charged with murder, in addition to other charges.

Ernest Franklin II, 35 was charged with murder in the second degree, a class A-1 violent felony; arson in the third degree, a class C felony; and tampering with physical evidence, a class E felony.

33-year-old Heather Franklin was also charged with murder in the second degree, a class A-1 violent felony; arson in the third degree, a class C felony; and tampering with physical evidence, a class E felony.

The two were reported to have been arrested in the Town of Guilford.

Authorities said the investigation is continuing and that no further information would be released at this juncture.

A Go Fund Me page was created following the fire titled “Fire Recovery and Funeral Fund,” where nearly $12,000 was raised. The page has been removed.

The Sheriff’s Office was assisted in the investigation by the New York State Police, the City of Norwich Police Department, the Chenango County District Attorney’s Office, the Chenango County Bureau of Fire, and the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control.

Authorities said additional charges may be filed.

The two were arraigned in the Town of Guilford Court and remanded without bail.

Both defendants are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law.

Additional information will be reported as it is made available.

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