Joe and Deloris Fujko knew something had to be wrong with their next-door neighbors, Thomas and Debra Franklin. Both cars were at their house on Meadow Lake Drive East near Slidell, but the couple didn’t answer a knock on their door on Monday or their phone on Tuesday.
By Wednesday, a worried Joe Fujko sought out another neighbor who had a key to the Franklins’ home. That neighbor found the couple shot dead in their upstairs bedroom, Fujko said, and reported it to the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, which is conducting an investigation.
The Coroner’s Office confirmed the identities of the couple and that both died in a murder-suicide. Investigators believe that Thomas Franklin, 59, shot his 57-year-old wife before taking his own life, a Coroner’s Office spokesman said.
The Fujkos, who had lived next door to the Franklins since moving to the neighborhood in 1999, said they were nice people but kept to themselves.
Thomas Franklin was a motorcycle enthusiast. A sign promoting a motorcycle safety campaign is planted near the driveway of their tidy, two-story house.
But the Franklins were having what family friend Nicky Wilson described as a “rough time.’’ Thomas Franklin had been laid off from Textron about six months ago, according to Joe Fujko. Debra Franklin was in poor health, according to both Wilson and the Fujkos.
The couple had two grown sons, Nicholas and Adam, who the Fujkos said arrived at their parents’ home Wednesday. No one answered the phone at the house.
The Sheriff’s Office said the investigation is in its early stages but that there was no sign of a forced entry or that any other parties were involved. The couple’s bodies appeared to have been in the house for a day or more after they died, spokesman George Bonnett said.