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‘Manchester by the Sea’ Inspired a Murder, Claims Prosecutor

A couple is accused of killing their adoptive son and starting a fire to cover it up.

"Manchester By the Sea"

“Manchester By the Sea”

Anyone who found “Manchester by the Sea” unbearably depressing would do well to turn back now. According to a prosecutor in New York, a married couple took a cue from Kenneth Lonergan’s Oscar-winning film by allegedly killing their adoptive son with special needs and attempting to cover up the murder by starting a fire.

READ MORE: Kenneth Lonergan on the Quiet Extremes of ‘Manchester by the Sea’: Awards Spotlight

In the film — spoilers to follow — the children of Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams’ characters die in an accidental house fire. “Within two hours of that movie playing to this defendant and her husband, Jeffrey’s deceased,” attorney Joseph McBride said of the crime. The couple are said to have watched “Manchester by the Sea” on February 28, just two days after it won the Academy Awards for Best Actor (Affleck) and Best Original Screenplay (Lonergan). Jeffrey Franklin was 16.

READ MORE: ‘Manchester by the Sea’: Casey Affleck Explains How Kenneth Lonergan Brought the Film’s Characters to Life

“The victim was badly burned,” said McBride during a bail hearing held last Friday. “Because of the damage to the body by the fire, the pathologist is not able to determine the cause of death.” According to an autopsy, however, Franklin had already died when the fire started.

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