‘Manchester by the Sea’ Inspired Parents to Kill Son, Prosecutor Says

Manchester by the Sea
Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

A New York couple decided to kill their disabled adopted son after watching “Manchester by the Sea,” according to a prosecutor handling the case.

Chenango County District Attorney Joseph McBride said last week during a bail hearing that 16-year-old Jeffrey Franklin was killed within two hours of his adoptive parents, Ernest and Heather Franklin, watching the Oscar-winning film on Feb. 28, according to WBNG-TV. McBride said an examination showed that the teen died before the fire.

The fire was reported around 1:15 a.m. on March 1 at the family’s home in New York. When police arrived on the scene, Ernest Franklin reportedly pointed to the room where his dead son was lying. He told officials that he was away from the house chasing down the family’s dogs when the fire started. Heather Franklin claimed to have been driving around from 11:30 p.m. until about 2:30 a.m., according to the report.

WBNG-TV reports that McBride said during the hearing that the victim was badly burned. “Because of the damage to the body by the fire, the pathologist is not able to determine the cause of death,” the attorney said. The autopsy, though, showed Jeffrey Franklin had died before the fire, according to McBride.

According to the report, Heather Franklin’s attorney told the court that she is innocent until proven guilty. Her husband’s public defender said it is unclear if the movie was relevant to the event and said his office has hired a forensic pathologist to investigate.

SPOILER ALERT: Do not continue reading if you have not seen “Manchester by the Sea.”

“Manchester by the Sea” stars Casey Affleck as a grief-stricken man who, it is revealed through flashbacks, accidentally killed his children in a fire while under the influence of multiple substances. The movie scored two Oscars from six nominations, including a best actor win for Affleck.

The Franklins are charged with murder, arson, and tampering with physical evidence.