Crime

Wake investigators: Mother-son murder plot included $1 million life insurance policy

Tammy Lynn Franklin
Tammy Lynn Franklin CCBI

Wake County sheriff's investigators think a woman accused of plotting with her son to kill their husband and father had been hatching a plan since applying in May for a new $1 million insurance policy on her husband’s life, according to applications for six search warrants in the case.

Tammy Franklin and her son, Steven, are accused of conspiracy to murder Donald Franklin; she is also accused of intimidating a witness and communicating threats and of being an accessory after an assault. Steven Franklin is accused of trying to kill his father with a kitchen knife.

Investigator Darcy Weaver laid out the murder theory in asking a magistrate for permission to search the family’s home at 6825 Greywalls Lane; Tammy and Steven Franklin’s cellphones; Steven Franklin’s iPad, and cars apparently used by Tammy Franklin and the couple’s daughter, Savannah. One is a 2013 Cadillac Escalade with North Carolina registration plate TAMMY1, and the other is a 2015 Chevrolet Camaro with plate SAVANA96, Weaver wrote.

The case began after Donald Franklin called deputies on Halloween night, saying he had run from the family home after Steven Franklin pushed him down a staircase in the garage while Donald was carrying a “heavy box of tools” from a loft. Donald Franklin told deputies that a “spiked rake” had been placed at the bottom of the stairs, according to Weaver.

After the father was able to drop the tools and catch himself to prevent a fall, he told deputies that Steven Franklin shouted, “You won’t get away from me this time” and ran after his father with a paring knife in a bid to stab him.

Donald Franklin left the house, which tax records show is owned by another couple, because he didn’t feel safe, Weaver said.

She said he also began to think back to other incidents that seemed odd at the time, including an instance in which Tammy and Steven Franklin were going to take him to where he works as a truck driver and Steven was behind him with “a leather belt looped like a noose.”

Donald Franklin said he noticed his son with the belt after Tammy Franklin said, “Not now, Steven. Let’s take him to work.”

In the week after Halloween, Weaver wrote, Donald Franklin learned his wife was having his pay diverted into a bank account that only she could access. Donald Franklin also realized that Tammy Franklin had taken out a new insurance policy on his life, according to the search warrants.

Weaver said she interviewed Tammy Franklin after she was initially arrested and that she admitted setting up the bank account and having Donald Franklin’s pay deposited into it. She also admitted taking out an insurance policy but said it was on both her and her husband and was taken out in March, Weaver wrote.

Investigators found, however, that Tammy Franklin applied for the policy in May and that it covered only Donald Franklin.

When investigators charged Tammy and Steven Franklin on Nov. 9 with murder conspiracy, they listed the case as beginning in May.

Steven Franklin was arrested Nov. 5 on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury. Weaver wrote that Donald Franklin’s left hand was cut when he was wrestling the knife away from his son after the incident on the stairs.

The sheriff’s office also charged Tammy Franklin with being an accessory after the fact in the assault case. They said she sent her son to visit her parents in Haywood County when investigators were trying to find him and told them he was in Washington, D.C.

All of the search warrants were aimed at finding paper or electronic evidence of a murder plan. Weaver told a magistrate that deputies had evidence that Tammy Franklin had been trying to remotely connect to her iPhone to wipe data from its memory.

They also wanted to find out what records Tammy or Steven Franklin had about bank accounts and the insurance policy.

They took boxes of paper records from the house and two computers on Nov. 9, the day they arrested Tammy and Steven Franklin on the conspiracy charge, according to the search warrants.

Tammy Franklin is being held in the Wake County Detention Center in lieu of $1.25 million bail. Steven Franklin is being held on $1.1 million bail.

Outside court on the day when her mother and brother were brought to court on the conspiracy charges, Savannah Franklin told reporters that the charges were wrong and that her father had behaved badly toward the family.

Ron Gallagher: 919-829-4572, @RPGKT

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