Parents arrested for allegedly killing son, setting fire to cover up crime
The parents of a Chenango County teenager are accused of killing their son and then setting fire to their home in order to conceal the crime.
Ernest Franklin II, 35, and Heather Franklin, 33, of 457 State Highway 8 in the Town of Guilford have been arrested in connection with the March 1 death of their son, 16-year-old Jeffrey Franklin, Chenango County Sheriff Ernest Cutting announced Tuesday.
An autopsy determined the fire did not cause Jeffrey Franklin's death and that he was deceased prior to the fire, according to Cutting.
"Investigators believe the fire was set to cover up the murder of Jeffrey," Cutting said in a news release late Tuesday.
Both defendants have been charged with felony counts of second-degree murder, third-degree arson and tampering with physical evidence.
The sheriff's office is continuing to investigate and further charges may be filed, according to Cutting.
An alleged motive in the murder was not disclosed by the sheriff's office. If convicted of second-degree murder, the defendants could be sentenced to a maximum penalty of 25 years in state prison.
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.
Investigators traced the cause of the fire to a wood stove, which was the main heating source for the residence, according to sheriff's deputies.
The sheriff's office has investigated the deadly fire with assistance by state police, Norwich police, the Chenango County District Attorney's Office, the Chenango County Bureau of Fire, and the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control.