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Police file photo (Pexels)
Police file photo (Pexels)

A New York couple was charged with killing their son before burning their house down


A couple in upstate New York was charged with murder and arson after reportedly killing their son, who has autism, and burning down their house to hide the evidence.

Ernest Franklin II, 35 and his wife Heather Franklin, 33, were also accused of tampering with evidence, CNN reports.

The family's house in Guilford burned down March 1, sparking a GoFundMe that raised more than $11,000. After the parents were charged with son Jeffrey's murder, GoFundMe canceled the fundraiser and refunded the money.

The couple adopted Jeffrey six or seven years ago, Chenango County Sheriff Ernest Cutting Jr. said. He faced both developmental and physical challenges, and Heather stayed home to take care of him full time. 

"It's shocking," Cutting said. "Jeffrey was a handicapped person who was totally reliant on his parents. You would hope in your mind that they would be there for the right reasons and try to take care of this boy."

Cutting said an autopsy showed Jeffrey was dead before the fire started.

It wears on you, especially knowing their son died. But I thought I was helping my friend.
Dominick Gildersleeve, GoFundMe organizer

The organizer of the GoFundMe page said he was "absolutely, horrifically betrayed" by the Franklins.

Two people gave at least $1,000 apiece, Dominick Gildersleeve said. 

"For working-class people, that's not small money,"  he told CNN.

Cutting said the Franklins were cooperative with the investigation into the fire until they were called in for an interview.

"They would talk to us initially, and it got to the point that [Ernest Franklin] asked for an attorney and the questioning stopped," he said.

Attorneys for the Franklins, who were arrested Friday, did not respond to CNN's request for comment.

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