'There's a history': Fire in Franklin investigated as a homicide after domestic violence call

·3 min read

FRANKLIN — A woman is dead, with authorities saying her estranged husband was expected to be arraigned Friday on a murder charge.

Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey said Shirley Owen, 49, died Friday morning of apparent blunt force trauma at her 11 Grace Lane home. Her husband, Brendon Owen, 47, of East Bridgewater, was arrested in the driveway of the home when he tried to get away.

The incident began sometime after 7 a.m. Shirley Owen’s mother was able to get out of the home and went to a neighbor’s house to call 911 at 7:39 a.m.

“She said there was an active domestic violence situation that may involve blunt force objects,” Morrissey said.

'Incredibly egregious': Ex-husband charged with Shirley Owen's death, burning Franklin home

Firefighters and police on the scene following a domestic incident and fire at 11 Grace Lane in Franklin, Dec. 17, 2021.
Firefighters and police on the scene following a domestic incident and fire at 11 Grace Lane in Franklin, Dec. 17, 2021.

Police arrived at the home within 5 minutes and saw evidence the house was on fire. At the time, they saw Brendon Owen about to leave. He turned and left from a different door, where he encountered another Franklin police officer. Police had to shock him with a Taser to take him into custody, Morrissey said.

At the time, the victim’s mother and the neighbor said Shirley Owen was still inside the burning home. Officers went in and found her in a space in the home between the main home and the garage, possibly a breezeway, Morrissey said.

“She was unresponsive,” he said. “She had clear evidence of blunt force trauma. The officers attempted to treat her, but she was declared dead at the scene.”

Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrisey speaks Friday during a press conference outside Franklin Police Headquarters following a fatal fire at 11 Grace Lane.
Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrisey speaks Friday during a press conference outside Franklin Police Headquarters following a fatal fire at 11 Grace Lane.

By the time the Fire Department began to fight the fire, the house was fully involved. The Fire Department said the house is likely a total loss.

Police Chief Thomas Lynch said there had been ongoing issues with the Owen family and there was an open restraining order in Wrentham District Court.

“There’s a history,” he said. “For the past seven years, we’ve been there off and on, not as much as the past couple of years.”

Two children were not home on Friday morning. Authorities said they are safe.

Brendon Owen was expected to be arraigned Friday in Wrentham District Court. Morrrissey said he did not know the exact charges, but said he expects murder to be among them.

Lynch said the community remains among the safest in the state.

“It’s as safe as it was any other day,” he said. “It was an isolated incident. It was a domestic situation where they knew each other.”

Morrissey pointed out that the holiday season always sees an uptick in domestic violence incidents.

Franklin Police Chief Thomas Lynch and Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrisey speak during a press conference Friday outside Franklin Police Headquarters after a fatal fire earlier in the day at 11 Grace Lane.
Franklin Police Chief Thomas Lynch and Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrisey speak during a press conference Friday outside Franklin Police Headquarters after a fatal fire earlier in the day at 11 Grace Lane.

“It’s always been difficult this time of year, emotions are running high,” he said. “We want people to know there are a lot of resources out there to help.”

According to Toni K. Troop, a spokesperson for Jane Doe Inc. in Boston, the Franklin incident represents the 14th person killed related to domestic violence in Massachusetts this year.

Troop said if someone is concerned about a loved one, they can watch for signs of abuse such as being isolated or physical injuries.

“Reaching out and asking someone if they need any help can be their lifeline,” said Troop. “It shows that they’re not alone, which is a big thing.”

Resources for those in need: Domestic violence incidents increase during the holidays: Here's how you can help a victim

Multimedia journalist Lauren Young contributed to this report.

Norman Miller can be reached at 508-626-3823 or nmiller@wickedlocal.com. For up-to-date public safety news, follow Norman Miller on Twitter @Norman_MillerMW or on Facebook at facebook.com/NormanMillerCrime.

This article originally appeared on The Milford Daily News: Franklin: Grace Lane fire and death of Shirley Owen being investigated

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