Jeffrey Franklin was 11 years old when he was adopted by Ernest and Heather Franklin in 2012. Sadly, he was just 16 years old when he passed away on March 1, five years later.
According to earlier reports, it was initially believed that Jeffrey died when the family’s double-wide trailer went up in flames that were caused by a wood stove used to heat their home.
According to People, Heather told investigators that she was out trying to find over-the-counter sleep medication when the fire occurred, while Ernest claimed that he was outside looking for the dogs.
However, there was no surveillance footage of Heather walking down any of the aisles in the stores she claimed to be at during that time.
Facebook posts just days after her son’s death depicted a very distraught Heather:
I just wanted to thank everyone for all the love and support we have gotten in this time. We are currently staying with…
I just wanted to thank everyone for all of the love and support we are receiving. knowing so many people care is…
Then, 22 days after Jeffrey’s death, an initial autopsy report revealed that there was no smoke or ash in the 16-year-old’s lungs, meaning he was deceased before the fire started.
Both Heather and Ernest were arrested and charged with second-degree murder, arson, and tampering with physical evidence.
Family and friends of the Franklins — who believed the parents were loving and caring people — were stunned by their arrest.
Now investigators are trying to piece together a motive for why the couple chose to allegedly murder the son they adopted after being his foster parents for an unknown amount of time. As People reported, it is believed that Jeffrey was too much for the parents to handle.
As it was previously reported, Jeffery was both deaf, mute, and also battled with bladder control issues. Posts Heather made to Facebook before Jeffrey’s (JR) death clearly showed she was frustrated with caring for her son’s special needs.
People published transcripts of the since-deleted Facebook posts:
“Been struggling with jr,” she wrote to a friend on Facebook, according to court records. “I guess no real surprise there.”
Telling Heather she was praying for her and Ernest about JR, the friend wrote, “I know it’s always hard. Same old, same old or some new problems?”
“Both,” Heather replied. “He is peeing in his room again. For about the past 2 or 3 weeks. Almost nightly. Last episode of this was last summer. So went a few months with nothing…now he started it again. His room smells so bad! Every day it’s the same thing, cleaning pee…it’s crazy.”
She told her friend that he was “currently on restriction till Tuesday. Depending if there is more pee between now and then.”
Then she wrote, “I so badly want out…dealing with jr peeing all over his room again for past few weeks. It punishes me more than him.”
Investigators also believed that Ernest and Heather had the idea to stage the fire after watching “Manchester By The Sea,” just two hours before their son’s death.
“Manchester By the Sea” is an Oscar Award-winning movie that depicts a character who was not criminally charged after his children died in an accidental house fire.
The couple allegedly admitted to watching the movie, but both pleaded not guilty to the charges against them. It was also revealed that Jeffrey was diagnosed with a heart murmur shortly before his untimely death; it’s unknown if that could have also played a role in his death.
As People reported, Heather would be roughly nine months pregnant with her and Ernest’s first biological child. It’s unknown if she has given birth:
She is currently out on bail and living with friends as she awaits her impending trial, while Ernest is still currently incarcerated.