“Manchester by the Sea” had millions of viewers bawling over its heartbreaking storyline and it may even have inspired a real-life murder.
Within hours of watching “Manchester” on Feb. 28, Ernest and Heather Franklin killed Jeffrey Franklin, 16, and tried to cover up the crime with a house fire, Chenango County District Attorney Joseph McBride said during a bail hearing, WBNG reported.
The highly-acclaimed drama written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan details the aftermath of when a father accidentally sets fire to his house and kills his three children. However, in the case of Joseph Franklin, McBride said an examination showed that he died before the fire and he believes he was deliberately killed.
Based on scientific evidence, Jeffrey did not have any smoke or soot in his mouth, trachea or bronchi, which is expected if someone died as a result of a fire. However, due to the damage to the body, the pathologist is not able to determine the cause of death.
“Within two hours of that movie playing to this defendant and her husband, Jeffrey’s deceased,” McBride said during a bail hearing Friday.
“[Ernest] claims that a fire was started at his house accidentally when his wife happened to be shopping and he happened to leave the dogs out. There were no animals found in the house,” the attorney continued. “No one else was left in the house, and the defendant, with all due respect, was not injured in any way trying to save the alleged — the victim in this particular case.”
Ernest Franklin II is currently being held on $250,000 cash or $500,000 bond, while Heather Franklin is being held on $125,000 or $250,000 bond. Both are charged with second-degree murder, arson and tampering with physical evidence, and face up to 25 years in prison.
The fire was reported around 1:15 a.m. March 1 at the Franklin’s home in the rural town of Guilford, 55 miles southeast of Syracuse, New York.