The Franklin Murders: A Follow-up and Comments

In 1998, a teenager in Huntsville, Alabama killed his parents and attempted to kill his siblings.  His name was Jeffrey Franklin.  The event shook the small city of Huntsville and all those that were connected to the case.  There was a brutality to the events that was chilling and terrifying.  It was tragic.

I wrote a brief story about these events seven years ago.  This is story is an attempt to acknowledge the concerns of people who have stopped by to comment on that blog post over the years and to further discuss issues they had with the original story.  People still comment on that post regularly.  At the time I wrote the post, I never imagined so many people would actually read something I wrote.  I wasn’t a known writer and my blog was insignificant to say the least.  I wrote a story on Jeffrey Franklin thinking it would be mostly unread.  I wrote the story because that event had such an impact on me as a young woman and on so many people in my community and I felt like it was a story that needed to be told.  I got many of the details wrong in the story.  Many readers have stopped by to comment and give their perspectives on the story.  People who knew the Franklins told their stories and I realized that the story impacted everyone even vaguely associated with the family.  It was a tragedy that resonated so deeply that no one who witnessed it couldn’t be impacted.  My mother knew the Franklin family and knew Cindy Franklin, Jeffrey’s mother.  I had been a troubled teen and Cindy and my mother would talk. I had done well and moved on and my mother had offered Cindy advice on how to find help for a troubled teenager.  They went to church together and their talks were often spiritual. 

When Jeffrey Franklin killed his parents and attempted to kill his siblings, I can still remember the look on my mother’s face.  She couldn’t believe it.  She had taught Jeffrey in religious education at the church and had believed his story would unfold like mine.  He would be troubled and outgrow it and have a good life.  None of us knew how to respond.  Of course, my mother was hit hard as she thought Cindy was a good friend and a wonderful woman.  My mother still cries when she thinks of the children and Cindy and what it was like to see the children in the hospital the next day.

I wrote my first story on this blog when I believed that something Satanic had driven Jeffrey to do what he did.  He had claimed the devil (A figure with horns on his head and eyes) made him do it.  His writings prior to the murders have been released and show that Jeffrey was planning on offering his family as a sacrifice to Satan.  (  ) . If you follow the attached link, you can see Jeffrey’s letters and the three murder weapons.  The pictures are disturbing so I wouldn’t look if you are sensitive. Jeffrey’s writings were horrific and he offered himself up to Satan.  He also planned to get off on an insanity plea in the letters.  Jeffrey clearly was involved in the dark arts and Satanism and the murders were driven partly by this, but there is more to the story than this.

 Since I wrote the  first story, I have vastly changed my perspective on this case, partly because I have been blessed by so many people who were more involved in it that I was telling me their side of the story and partly because I now work with so many troubled teens at my office.  Either way, I wanted to update the initial story with comments and information that have come to me over the years. 
Later, I wrote another story on the Franklin case because a woman contacted me with a ghost story about the case. ( ).  She believed Cindy was haunting the nursing home where she used to work and she wanted me to tell the story.  I published that woman’s story anonymously and it was beautiful.  It even inspired one of the Franklin children to respond and reach out to me.  I was deeply moved by their stories and their hope and strength.   The first time I told the story it was a horror story.  Now, I hope it is a more real story.  I cannot tell this story as well as those who inspired it, so I have posted direct quotes from comments below.  I was moved by the people who wanted Jeffrey’s story told. They wanted people to understand his mental illness and how far he has come.  I was more deeply moved by the children who have a strength that I will never know.  They are amazing.  Here are a few of the comments and the stories that have come to me since my first story.  You can read the original story and all the comments at:

“In 2005, I was working at A. Rehab . Well, I'd heard stories of a phantom nurse who was said to walk the halls at night, but being a veteran of several nursing homes, I'd heard a lot of stories like that, seems like every nursing homes has it's resident ghost. Turns out that this one was a little different. I was speaking to a couple of the night shift CNAs, (cna, in case you don't know, is a Certified Nursing Assistant, which I was at the time, waiting on my nursing license to come through), and they had both told me of watching a nurse they didn't recognize, walk down the hall and into a residents room, when they followed after her, and entered the room, the only ones there were the two residents that shared the room and they were sleeping, but the curtain between the beds was moving as if it had been pushed or disturbed. I dismissed it as a neat story but nothing more. The next week, I was waiting to clock out after finishing up my shift, and was standing at the time clock, with about 5 minutes to go, when I noticed that across the hall from where I was, the lights were on. The room I was looking into was the physical therapy department, it had double doors, and each had a window in the center. I thought maybe someone had just forgotten to turn off the lights, so I was going to go do that. I crossed the hall and looked into the room. Now this room is a rectangular shape, and if you were looking into it from the door, you would be looking in from one of the long sides of the rectangle, and the other side of the room was lined with windows looking out on an open area outside. It was 11:00 at night so it was dark outside, making the windows into the room very reflective and mirror-like, as I was looking in, I saw the reflection of a nurse, in front of me, slightly to my left, walking very fast, moving from right to left. Well, my initial thought was that someone was in that room and they were exiting through a side door. I saw this very clearly, it was a female, dressed in a white nurses uniform, white skirt, and top, no hat, she was about 5'5" or so, with dark hair just below her collar. She didn't look left or right, but moved straight ahead, very fast and with a purpose. I grabbed the doorknob and tried to open the door, but it was locked, upon further investigation, it turns out that someone had apparently left the lights on, and that there was no other door way to enter or exit, also, after looking in for a while, I realized that due to the windows on the other side of the room, I could see the entire room, and it was completely empty. Then I remembered the phantom nurse story and the reality of what I had seen started to set in and I got creeped out, I crossed the hall, clocked out, went home, and didn't sleep well.

What does this have to do with poor Mrs. Franklin? Here's how it came together for me. 6 months later, I was now an lpn, and I worked at another nursing home in  Huntsville, one night over dinner, i was talking to another nurse and I happened to tell her this story, when I described what I'd seen, her eyes got very large, and her exact words were, "I bet that's Cynthia!". Not being from this area, I didn't know who she was talking about. She then went on to tell me that "Cynthia" was Cynthia Franklin, and that she had known her and that they worked at A. Rehab together. She went on to tell me that her son Jeffrey had, in the late '90s, flipped out and murdered her and other family members. At the time, I thought that even if this was this Cynthia, why the heck she would hang around a nursing home she worked at after her death. Jump forward a couple years, I'm currently employed at another nursing home here in Huntsville, I was telling this story to another nurse and when I got to the part where the last nurse had told me her name, the one I was speaking with told very matter of factly, "Oh, yeah, I was working with Cynthia when it happened, I knew her very well", and here's when it all clicked. The nurse I was talking too, was a lady named Jane Doe who had been there at A. Rehab, she and Cynthia worked together and she explained to me that Cynthia would often stay at work until 2 or 3 in the morning, because she was afraid of her son and she didn't feel safe or comfortable in her own home. Stella told me that the only place she felt safe was at work, so she stayed there as much as she could. So know for some reason, I, a complete stranger to the Franklins and for no reasons other than sheer coincidence had learned the identity of the phantom nurse at A. Rehab, and as a bonus, I even understood why she was there. It was the only place she felt safe for her, so she comes back. If you ask day shift personnel, they'll tell you they've never heard of a phantom nurse, but you ask the night shift CNAs, the longtime employees, and you'll get a different story, if you can get them to talk about it at all.

I have to say, I don't tell you this lightly, and I don't know if I would like for this to be made public, after all, her kids are still alive and this would I'm sure be a very sensitive subject to them and others who might have known and loved this lady. Also, it seems that I cannot escape the Franklin case as it turns out that upon over hearing me talking to Jane Doe, one of my CNAs had currently been working Huntsville Hospital at the time and she was one of the aides that helped take care of the children there. According to her, those children were the most pitiful that anyone had seen, and everyone worked very hard to help them, but they all thought those kids' story was one of the saddest they had heard, you could hear the sadness in her voice and see it in her eyes when spoke of them. I just thought it was strange how all these details kept revealing themselves to me, and how I keep getting glimpses into this case that I have no ties to, or reason to know these things."
“Thank you very much for sharing this story. My name is Sara Franklin (well, Deitzman now). Cynthia was my mother. To me, this story is not upsetting. It is amazing to hear about my mom after almost 15 years, to find out that she seems to be continuing what she did after death. Do you still see her?”
“Mrs. Deitzman,
Although I returned to work at that place in 2014, I have not seen her, they've added a huge new wing and that's primarily where I worked. I still continued to have weird coincidences happen, like after this story was posted by Jessica, I became her coworker and, (I hope), friend, and upon returning to that Facility, I met a nurse who was a friend of the family who told me she had actually been to your house the night that it all happened. I no longer worker there, having moved on to greener pastures.”
Comments from the original post:
“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...”
“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.”
“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”
“He is in Donaldson Correctional Facility, and he gets a hearing for Parole in June of 2016.”

“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.”
“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.”
“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.”

More Information:


L. Shepherd said…
Wow. I had never heard of this case before. I was away at college during that time, and somehow the news never got to me. That is just horrific.
Adeel said…
Jeffrey Franklin murdered his parents and attacked three of his siblings with a hatchet, his writings which were collected by the investigators after his arrest; still have the power to shock.

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