Deputies: Teen was dead before Mount Upton fire, parents charged

Deputies: Teen was dead before Mount Upton fire, parents charged with murder

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TOWN OF GUILFORD, N.Y. (WBNG) -- Two people have been charged with murder in connection to the death of 16-year-old Jeffrey Franklin on March 1, according to a new report by the Chenango County Sheriff's Office.

In the early morning hours, several fire departments were called to a fire at 457 State Highway 8 in Mount Upton.

Authorities said the cause of the fire appeared to be a wood stove which was the main heating source to the residence. 

On Tuesday, the sheriff's office said Jeffrey's parents, Ernest Franklin II, 35, and Heather Franklin, 33, have been arrested in connection to the fire.

According to deputies, an autopsy found that the fire did not cause Jeffrey's death, and that he was deceased prior to the fire. Investigators believe the fire was set to cover up the murder of Jeffrey.

Ernest and Heather are charged with murder in the second degree, arson and tampering with physical evidence.

The sheriff's office says the investigation is continuing and further charges are possible. 

"Due to the ongoing nature of this investigation, no further information will be released at this time," the sheriff's office said in a news release.

A Chenango County Judge has delayed the arraignment of both Ernest and Heather, after no public defender was available at the Town of Guilford Courthouse Tuesday evening.

Both Ernest and Heather were present for their initial appearance.

Chenango County District Attorney, Joe McBride says it's still too early to give much information.

"Obviously the defendants have a fair trial in these proceedings and because of that we aren't really allowed to disclose a lot of the facts that really support the underline charges," McBride said. "Those will eventually come out in court but once again we want to be tight lipped until that day comes."

The arraignment will be on Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the Town of Guilford Courthouse. Until then, both defendants are being held at Chenango County Correctional facility.

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