Two parents were charged after they allegedly murdered their 16-year-old adopted son and then tried to cover it up, according to authorities.
Ernest Franklin II, 35, and Heather Franklin, 33, allegedly started a fire on March 1 in their Upstate New York home to cover up 16-year-old Jeffrey Franklin's death. An autopsy later determined that the handicapped teen was dead before the fire, police said.
Authorities said the cause of the fire appeared to be a wood stove which was the main heating source to the residence.
"It is difficult, especially when you are on the outside looking in. Many, many people are asking themselves 'how could this ever happen?'" said Ernest Cutting Jr., the Chenango County Sheriff. "Unfortunately this child—Jeffrey—was adopted six or seven years ago. I know he was a handicapped young man. Unfortunately, circumstances came to the point where his death was caused. And they used the fire to cover that death up. And it's a terrible tragedy."
The parents also reportedly started a GoFundMe page for Jeffrey's funeral costs and fire recovery after the teen's death.
The fund raised $11,000.
TheGoFundMe page has since been taken down and donors will be refunded.
"It's important to remember that the platform is backed by the GoFundMe Guarantee, which means that in the rare case that GoFundMe, law enforcement or a user finds campaigns are misused, donors will get their money back," GoFundMe said in a statement.
Officials said they aren't disclosing any more facts about the case because they want the defendants to have a fair trial.
"Those will eventually come out in court but once again we want to be tight lipped until that day comes," said Joe McBride, Chenango County District Attorney.
Ernest and Heather are charged with murder in the second degree, arson and tampering with physical evidence.
More charges are possibly forthcoming, according to reports.
Both Ernest and Heather pleaded not guilty and were sent to the Chenango County Jail without bail.
Read more about crimes:
U.S. Congress - Abscam. October 14, 1980. (Photo by Dan Brinzac/New York Post Archives / (c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)
Mugshot of American gangster Al Capone (1899 - 1947) smiling in a jacket and tie, Miami, Florida. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
A corporate mailroom employee uses gloves while sifting through letters October 15, 2001 in New York City. The FBI reported a letter containing anthrax was sent to US Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Fedreal Burau of Investigation (FBI) officers inspect the collapsed World Trade Center complex 16 September 2001 in New York. Investigation, clearing, and rescue work continues on the site of the 11 September nation's worst terrorist attack. (Photo credit ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
Sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad (Seated-L) watches as fellow sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo, wearing an orange jumpsuit, is identified in court during his trial in courtroom 10 at the Virginia Beach Circuit Court October 20, 2003 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Muhammad fired his defense team and represented himself. (Photo by Martin Smith-Rodden-Pool/Getty Images)
American outlaw Bonnie Parker, playfully points a shotgun at her partner Clyde Barrow in 1932. The two were well-known wanted criminals during a two year period of robbery and murder until their death in 1934 in Gibson, Louisiana. (Photo via Getty Images)
Young Emmett Till wears a hat. Chicago native Emmett Till was brutally murdered in Mississippi. (Photo via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, : This image shows a television broadcast at the US Justice Department in Washington DC, 02 October 2002, of Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson (L) announcing, during a press conference, that former Enron Chief Financial Officer Andrew S. Fastow (L) has been charged with fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. Fastow reported to the FBI office in Houston, TX, earlier 02 October 2002. AFP PHOTO/Joyce NALTCHAYAN (Photo credit should read JOYCE NALTCHAYAN/AFP/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) This photo shows Joseph Clyde Amsler, 23, whom the FBI arrested on December 14th in connection with the kidnapping of Frank Sinatra Jr., 19. Keenan (another accomplice), and Amsler were arrested in the Los Angeles area. Irwin (third accomplice), was arrested in San Diego. Authorities said most of the $240,000 ransom which was paid has been recovered. The Sinatra youth, a singer, was taken from his motel room at the state line of Nevada, by two gunmen on December 8th. He was released unharmed in the Los Angeles area early December 11th, after the ransom had been paid.
Baton Rouge, UNITED STATES: Members of one of the several elite FBI Hostage Rescue Teams (HRT) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, lift off for a patrol over New Orleans and surrounding areas 03 September, 2005, waiting to respond to any law enforcement situations where they are needed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. AFP Photo/PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Iva Toguri, better known as Tokyo Rose, has plenty of time for reflection on her crimes here, as she waits in her jail cell in Yokohama for her upcoming trial for treason. The 29-year-old Los Angeles-born girl broadcasted propaganda to American forces on the Japanese 'Zero Hour' programs, but claims she was forced to do so.
Newspaper announcing John F. Kennedy's assassination. (Photo by Herb Scharfman/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) 3/31/1966-Hattiesburg, Mississippi- Sam H. Bowers Jr., identified as imperial wizard of the super-secret White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, appears outside FBI office in Hattiesburg March 31st after turning himself in in connection with the death of a Negro civil rights leader. Bowers said he had been 'staying with friends' during the four days a police dragnet was searching for him. Thirteen other Klansmen have been arrested and charged in the Feb. 10th fire-bombing death of Vernon Dahmer.
PHILADELPHIA, MS - JUNE 20: State Attorney General Jim Hood shows jurors FBI photographs of the earthen dam where three civil rights workers were buried in 1964, during his closing arguments in the murder trial of Edgar Ray Killen, June 20, 2005 in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Killen, a reported member of the Ku Klux Klan, has been charged with 3-count murder of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner - civil rights workers who were black voters during the 'Freedom Summer' of 1964, case known as 'Mississippi Burning.' The jury was split, 6-6, at the end of the first day of deliberations. (Photo by Rogelio Solis-POOL/Getty Images)
N220195 01: A domestic terrorist bombing attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, April 19, 1995 kills 168. (photo by J. Pat Carter)
James Kilgore (C), the last fugitive member of the Symbionese
Liberation Army (SLA), leaves a Cape Town magistrates court after an
extradition hearing, November 11, 2002. James Kilgore, arrested in
South Africa after 27 years on the run, could be extradited soon to the
United States since objections he may be executed are ill-founded, a
U.S. embassy spokesman said on Sunday. Kilgore, alleged to have
belonged to a guerrilla gang that kidnapped U.S. newspaper heiress
Patty Hearst in 1974, is not expected to face charges for any offence
punishable with the death penalty, spokesman Brian Penn told Reuters.
Head shot of aspiring actress Elizabeth Short, a murder victim nicknamed the Black Dahlia
FILE PHOTO APR96 - Theodore Kaczynski , accused of being the Unabomber, is shown in his booking mugshot from April 1996. Kaczynski pleaded guilty to charges he waged a deadly 17-year campaign of terror under a court agreement that will spare him from the death penalty, U.S. Justice Department officials said January 22.
(Original Caption) President Richard Nixon, claiming he was misled by his staff, has assumes 'full responsibility' for the Watergate bugging and indicated a special prosecutor may be named to investigate the worst crisis of his presidency. Six top administration officials have resigned as a consequence of the case. Attorney General Richard G.Kleindienst and top White House aides H.R.Haldeman, John D.Ehrlichman and John W.Dean III all resigned April 30. Last week, L.Patrick Gray III, acting director of the F.B.I., and Jeb Stuart Magruder, a former Haldeman aide, also resigned.