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Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea

Manchester by the Sea is an Academy Award winning movie, but nobody would ever say watching the movie is a particularly happy experience. Now, the film's depressing events have been linked to an actual murder. A case is currently pending in New York state where the adoptive parents of a special needs child have been accused of setting fire to their home in an attempt to cover up the murder of the child, which they allegedly were inspired to do after watching Manchester by the Sea. According to Chenango County District Attorney Joseph McBride...

Judge, in this particular case, the defendant and her husband, co-defendant, were at home with Jeffrey on the night of February 28th. That night, according to this defendant, she watched a movie called Manchester by the Sea. And in that movie, Judge, the main character in that movie kills his children by an accidental fire and is told in the movie that you can't be prosecuted for accidentally killing your children, and within two hours of that movie playing to this defendant and her husband, Jeffrey's deceased. She inexplicably left the house, driving around Chenango County and Delaware County, and doesn't return until the fire totally engulfs the house.

According to the story from WBNG, Defendants Heather and Ernest Franklin were having significant difficulties raising their 16-year-old special needs son, Jeffrey. The strain allegedly led them to murder. While the parents claim the fire was started by accident, though the specific cause is not revealed, an examination of Jeffrey's body has apparently found that the boy was dead prior to the fire, leading prosecutors to believe the fire was intentionally set in order to cover up a murder.

And you thought Manchester by the Sea couldn't get any more depressing? We've certainly heard cases where TV and movies have allegedly inspired people to attempt to recreate the events depicted. Films have also been inspired by actual horrific events. Certainly, the brief time period of only a couple hours that apparently elapsed between an accidental fire in a movie and a fire in real life is, at best, the strangest of coincidences. One has to wonder how that particular piece of information made it into evidence. Based on the fact that an examination of the victim gave evidence that he was dead before the fire, it seems that this case would be suspicious without the movie tie-in, but one has to wonder if knowledge of the film connection came first, leading to investigators actually looking into the coincidence. Either way, it appears the movie they saw that night will actually be used against them in court

The case is heartbreaking regardless of the truth of the events. Hopefully, justice is done, whatever it is that happens to be.

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