Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Axe Murder of the Franklin Family


I don't live in a very big city so it  seems odd to me that our little town is rocked by mass murders and bizarre killings more than it should for its population.  Last week,  UAH, where I went to college, was devastated by the shooting of 6 professors by a neurobiologist who didn't get tenure.   The week before that a child shot another child at the middle school down the street.

It wasn't so long ago that another murder shocked our little city.  This murder was too close to home.  A young man who went to our church, who my parents taught in catechism, whose family my family knew well, decided to kill his family with the blunt end of an axe.  Everyone knew Jeffrey Franklin was troubled.  He'd been going to counseling and had ADD. He'd been on Ritalin.  A friend of mine's younger brother was best friends with Jeffrey and he said that Jeffrey was an angsty young fellow, but what teenager isn't?  He did use drugs but most of those of us who didn't know him personally didn't see what was coming. He wore all black and spoke out against authority, but he didn't horde guns or speak of murder.  He didn't  torture puppies.  He was just another teen that was uncomfortable in his skin and a bit lost.

The night Jeffrey Franklin took the blunt end of an axe and hacked his parents to death, he also did serious damage to his two younger siblings.  They  had severe trauma and brain damage.  One of his sisters was at dance and escaped the attacks, but no one else in the family was shown any mercy.  Jeffrey had spoken out many times against his parents but he had always loved his siblings.  So when he attacked his three baby siblings and bashed their skulls in with all the strength in his body it seemed like something monstrous must have taken control of him.  The attacks were so brutal that the first responders at the seen of the crime had to leave the house to vomit.   Many had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for years to come just from seeing the atrocities that had been committed by one young man. That night I watched Jeffrey on the news.  He taunted the news cameras and stuck his tongue out at those who were watching him.  He had taken the police on a high speed pursuit that had ended in kicking and profanity.   Jeffrey laughed, dripping with blood, as he cursed and fought and spit at those who watched.

Three nights later Jeffrey was on the news again.  This time he was quiet, penitent.  He was remorseful, almost teary.  He wasn't the same boy who had mocked his parents as they lay drowning in their own blood or who had brutally attempted to hack his five year old sister and bay brother to death.

I have always had a theory about Jeffrey Franklin and his complete transformation.  The lawyers say it was the Ritalin, but I've seen too many people on Ritalin to believe that is possible.  The one thing Jeffrey had been getting into prior to his parents death was the dark arts.  According to friends, he had been attempting to summon demons and use magic to improve his life.  I believe he became too successful and whatever it was that he summoned took hold of him and wouldn't let him go.  Jeffrey claimed he couldn't remember what happened that horrible night.  I'm one of the few people that actually believed him.

Update 2017:  This story was written many years ago and there is a lot of new information available on this case that wasn't available when this was written.  Please read the comments below to get a more complete story from those who knew Jeffrey.  His drug abuse and mental illness are told best by those who have known him.  I appreciate everyone's comments and feedback.  I have written an updated story that is more accurate.  Please follow the link to read it.   http://ghoststoriesandhauntedplaces.blogspot.com/2017/04/the-franklin-murders-follow-up-and.html

34 comments:

Grim said...

Ho-ly shit. I can't think of any other words to describe this. I've seen and met crazy before but nothing on this level. Just a couple years back or so our city was stalked by a serial killer but even those killings were mild in comparison to this.

What date did this happen on? And was this in or near the town of Braintree by any chance? I've heard from other sources that that place is a town that's more than a little off, especially for its population density. I've been following the story of the university professor shooting closely and there seems to be some serious violence and altogether weirdness linked to the town. Tell me if you've heard anything similar. How did you find out about his interest in the dark arts? Do you have any further links to this story?

Grim said...

I shouldn't say "those killings were mild in comparison to this". I just meant the way this incident was carried out and the level of violence it involved compared to the one here. The parties concerned in both cases didn't deserve the horrific end they were met with.

Jessica Penot said...

I live in Huntsville, Alabama. The recent University mass murder was at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. I learned about Jeffrey Franklin's interest in the dark arts because he and I went to the same high school. I graduated before him, but I had heard of him and his interest was known by his friends. Huntsville is an odd town. It has it's fair share of ghost stories and hauntings and it also draws a global community so it brings a very diverse group of people to a small location which I think enhances Huntsville's oddities. There have been a lot of weird things here that are definately not consistent with size. You can see some of the initial news footage from the Franklin case at youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBw7rk6VUYI Jeffrey killed his parents and baby brother, 2 of his siblings have severe brain damage, and one escaped.

Grim said...

Wow, I was on a duh-spree last night. Braintree is actually located in Massachusetts. Should've double checked that. Anyways, I only mentioned it since I think that's where the shooter in the 'Bama spree was from. THAT was also the town I referred to as having all kinds of outright weirdness is located (but I don't doubt your location as having some of its own creeped-up stuff as well). Thanks for the info.

Courtney Mroch said...

I had meant to write you when the college killings happened. You were the first person who popped in my mind when I heard where they were! But then to find out about all this? Nuts! That is a lot of violence in one area. (Esp one that's not so big like you said.) WILD stuff! Be careful down there, Jessica!

日月神教-向左使 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
inc123 said...

Where is jeffrey Franklin now? which prison? Where are his surving siblings? HOw are they doing?

pkbab5 said...

Actually, Jeff did cocaine. I believe at the time of arrest, his tox screen showed multiple drugs, both legal and illegal, including cocain, Ritalin, and some sort of anti-psychotic.

We were friends before he started doing hard drugs.

Just wanted to clarify that bit.

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Also, I heard from my classmates @ Grissom that after this event took place the girls moved out of state to live with family.

Anonymous said...

I lived 2 blocks away. He had 666 and a pentagram written on his chest if I recall correctly.

Anonymous said...

We're all doin alright. This is Tim Franklin. Yes, it was pretty messed up but that's what happens when you fuck with that many different drugs. Anyway, interesting horror writing.. Definitely makes it sound pretty brutal...

Anonymous said...

I personally witness this guy at a friends house couple nights before, he was doing ritalin, xanax, cocaine and think klonopin. Most of us were tripping on acid that night (alot) and he passed out on the couch. I personally wrote on his forehead with a sharpie "I eat D**K". Ha messing with the Dark Arts, I believe it was all the drugs he was snorting, and mentally jacked up.

Anonymous said...

I grew up two streets away and my little sister was friends with Sarah (sorry if I spelled her name wrong).

I remember this was pretty horrifying for the community and a lot of stories went around but this post makes it sound slightly exaggerated. I could be wrong - I certainly wasn't there and don't know any details you can't find online.

I thought it was especially sad, that after the house sat for a while then sold - the new owners would have random, "concerned" neighbors ask if they knew what had happened there.

I do feel like the entire vibe around the house changed after the murders. I would always walk past it on my walks up to Hobbs Cemetery & after all that it just looked like time stopped and the sun stopped shining.

Anonymous said...

I went to high school with him and some of your facts are incorrect. He did do drugs and I personally saw some in his locker...my locker was right next to his. Also, on the night of the murders, he lead the police on a "low speed" car chase, not a high speed chase. I remember this fact because the local news interrupted prime time tv to show it and I remember being in shock thinking "omg, that's Jeff!" All of this doesn't really matter in the whole scheme of things because it was still an unthinkable tragedy and I will never forget that night.

Jessica Penot said...

I stand corrected by all of you who knew him through school. My family knew him through church so we probably didn't see the side of him ya'll did. People often put on nice faces at church I suppose. It sounds like he was quite an abuser and that probably was a major contributer to his behavior on the night things happened. Thanks for all your input.

Anonymous said...

If you have seen the recent news, he is trying to have his parole date moved from 2016 to March 2013. Check WAFF-48's facebook post

Anonymous said...

also, he killed his parents, yes... his one sister was at dance class and speculation was that he was on his way to her studio (but I have no clue if that's true).
He did attack his brothers and sister but none of them died. the youngest sustain the most brain injuries.

i grew up not far from them and his sister was in my 2nd grade class and had just returned to our middle school. i'll never, ever, forget. i'm amazed to see how well the kids are all doing, it's terrible they had to witness and be subjected to any of the horrors.

Niki Pessoney said...

I am a close family friend of the Franklin's and have between since u was 5. They were also our neighbors until the massacre took place. Ms. Penot, several of the things you wrote about what happened are incorrect. But I did find it an interesting read and as a lifelong Huntsvillian, completely agree with the way you described our city, though it had grown substantially in size and population since. You might consider researching what happened a little more so you can fix some of the misinformation in your story and make it more informative for those reading. Thanks for posting and putting some of the odd instances of our town out there to those interested! Hope I don't sound rude, that is certainly not my intention. -Nikki

Jessica Penot said...

Niki: Thank you so much for your comment. I would love to hear more about what you know. I've been contacted by all kinds of folks associated with this incident since I posted this story a couple of years ago. I have tried to integrate everything into the story but always love to learn more. Email me any time with your information and I'll update the story. I still live in Huntsville and although it has grown, I still think it is a small city. I guess that is probably because I visit New York, Chicago, Paris etc. and compared to all these type of cities Huntsville is a tiny little thing, but I guess it depends on what you are comparing it to. I love Huntsville and am happy to see it grow and thrive. Thanks and send your info along when you can.

Anonymous said...

Look into the history on Green Mountain of religious cult activities.

Brandon Hines said...

He is in Donaldson Correctional Facility, and he gets a hearing for Parole in June of 2016.

Sources: I live in Huntsville

Anonymous said...

I remember this tragedy well and have always felt it was the action of a lost soul. I particularly remember that amid all the horror, Jeff did not harm the new puppy which was in a cage inside the house. I wonder why.

Anonymous said...

Grew up next to the kid, and often hung out in the ditch beside his house.

Camelot was a great neighborhood, it still is today.

Kid just went overboard period. This story will never go away. At the time, there wasn't really any crime what so ever on the south end of town. We went to school together ect, but everyone that lived in the neighborhood either hung out together, hung out at R&L bridge, or Camelot Pool or the Creek. When this event happened people were just looking around at each other like WTF.

Anonymous said...

can anyone tell me how is he doing now? if he be free from the prison then how he can spend his life by normal like another people he was a good kid before?

Anonymous said...

can anyone tell me how is he doing now? if he gets out from the prison then how he can spend his life by normal like another people he and was a good kid before?

David Taylor said...

I was the 911 calltaker for this incident. I visited his siblings at Huntsville Hospital the next day, and I am amazed at how well they recovered. They kids were taken to New York to live with their Uncle, who I believe was a doctor up there. I can honestly tell you that call was the worst I ever answered. I hope I can be at the parole hearing to lend support to his victims and see him rot in prison for a much longer time.

Daniel McDow said...

He did an interview with WAAY 31 in 2005. Here's the link on YouTube. His eyes will freak you out. https://youtu.be/fAWhyfIa04M

Lee Ashley said...

David Taylor, who made the 911 call?

Anonymous said...

Too bad, he was smoking hott.

Lina S. said...

I lived in the Mt Gap area - to be exact, on Chicamauga Trail - when this happened back in March of 1998. My daughter Amanda was friends with his sister. He WAS on his way to her dance class to go after her, too. I clearly remember locking all four of my children in the house tight and forebade them to go outside. The chase was a low-speed chase. But nevertheless, he was going through our neighborhood. It was quite terrifying for me as a mother.

We knew the family through the Church and school. The Franklins were nice people all the way around. I felt horrible for them. I do remember a week or two prior going to mass and seeing Jeff there. He had this blank, distant stare and just gave you the creeps. I had wondered then, being a nurse, if he was psychotic or high. I think back now and figure probably both. I do not know how true it is, but we did hear that some time prior to the murders the parents petitioned a judge for committed inpatient treatment for him and was denied.

He did dabble with Dark Arts, but I doubt that really was the cause of him snapping. Knowing how much he did drugs, I can say as a nurse, the drugs are enough to make a person snap like that. I've seen cocaine-fueled rages where people are totally out of their minds and seem to have superhuman strength. So little wonder he was a "changed" person when he detoxed.

At last knowledge, he was due for parole on June 1st of this year, but I can find no evidence of the outcome or if he had the hearing yet. I hope for the sake of all that he is denied. The siblings were taken out of Huntsville and moved with family up North is what I had heard. I can't blame the family for getting them out of that town. There was nothing left for them there. I will never forget this case as long as I live - terribly sad and tragic.

Anonymous said...

Jeff is in Bullock Correctional, a medium security prison just south of Montgomery. he is still in the mental health block but is far from crazy. he got his GED years ago, knows Spanish, took drafting and art classes at Donalson Correctional. he has a very positive attitude. he was denied parole but will be up again in 5 yrs.there are 4 of us that correspond with Jeff and some of us even visit. if any of you close friends of his or the family would like to drop him a line or Christmas card i will publish the address.

Anonymous said...

Hello. I'm In case anyone is still interested he is actually diagnosed with schizophrenia. I know a family member and many of the details. And i agree with Nikki that if you're going to post a story like this you have to get the facts straight.but i can see why you are so interested in this event. I don't think he'll ever be getting out of prison. His letters to the judge are bizarre and he gets the best treatment for his mental state in there.

Anonymous said...

...and very intersti ng the response before last said that he is far from crazy. He is prob the definition of legally insane. I don't know who you are or how you visit but he is treated for a mental health disorder. And just bc he gets his GED and is smart doesn't mean he csn be mentally ill

Jessica Penot said...

Hi to all the anonymous. I can't tell if you are all the same people or different people, but I will probably do a follow-up story next week with all the input I have gathered from the initial story. I really appreciate the person who said he is diagnosed with schizophrenia. That sheds and entirely new light on things and it sounds like he was doing everything he could to push the boundaries of his sanity with drugs. I appreciate all of your input! I wrote this story, five years ago and I have learned so much since that time. I would encourage anyone writing a new comment to read all 33 comments as the add a lot of depth to the story.