And then I fell down yelling, “Make it go away!” 1

If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you know that I am currently rather pissed at the Huntsville CBS affiliate, WHNT, for their planned special tonight called the Dark Side of All Hallows’ Eve. In the ads for their story talk about Huntsville’s police department once having a special occult crime division. The ads also feature images of Jeffrey Franklin and comments about the crimes he committed on March 10, 1998.

Jeffrey killed his parents before trying to kill three of his four siblings on that night. He also attacked the best friend of his 14-year old sister. I can tell you a lot about the night. More than a lot of people can.

His sister was my friend. His sister’s friend was also my friend and on Yearbook staff with me; she talked about that night in class. My mom was the person who carried the medical records of his sister to the hospital. She stayed there until my friend was in the ICU. We went back to the hospital on a regular basis until it was time for them to leave town.

From the start, Jeffrey was painted as evil by the media. Even when the evidence came to light that he had 10 times the normal dose of Ritalin in his blood twelve days after the crime.1 Even when people started mentioning that he was mentally ill. Even when the state of Alabama thought he was mentally incompetent from 1999 until 2001, and even though the state of Alabama has had him in the mental healthcare unit of the prison since his sentencing began, instead of in general population, he has been portrayed as this supernatural killer. That kind of stigmatizing attitude is damaging to the whole community and it needs to stop.

Personally, I’m tired of reliving that night. It’s been almost twenty years and local news outlets are still pushing it. They keep trying to make a buck off of the suffering of my friend’s family. They keep trying to profit on the suffering of the people I grew up with, of the choir that we were in together, of me, of my mom. This has to stop at some point.

I know that the story was shocking and gruesome and that it sticks with people. It’s stuck with me, too. At a certain point, enough is enough. I wish he hadn’t made the choices he did that night. I wish that a lot of things were different about that whole situation. But forcing us to go through it over and over is cruel.

Tweets I’ve written recently about the story mentioning his crimes:

My response to a Facebook post promoting the story:

I will be so happy after you’ve aired this story so that I don’t have to see the ad for this story ever again.

You continue to sensationalize and exploit Jeffrey Franklin’s actions and play up the “devil worship” angle, while ignoring that he was mentally ill and had ingested enough Ritalin to induce psychosis and agitation. It’s been almost twenty years and this station continues to find ways to make this story into something that it isn’t. Instead of focusing on the reality of what happened that night, you’ve chosen to stigmatize the circumstances and force people who knew the family to relive a traumatic night over and over. You’ve played up the fear aspect of the crime to a grotesque extent and it needs to stop because you’re actually harming the community at this point.

Find a real story and stop it with this crap.

  1. He had been in jail since the night it occurred. 

About Janet Morris

I'm from Huntsville, Alabama. I've got as many college credits as a doctorate candidate, and the GPA of some of them, too. I have a boss by the name of Amy Pond. She's a dachshund. My parents both grew up in Alabama.

One thought on “And then I fell down yelling, “Make it go away!”

  • Jenn

    Wow. That is really awful and shows that the network has incredibly poor taste and next to no sensitivity. My heart goes out to the family – I’m sure they’re re-living the initial shock and grief because of this. 🙁

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