‘I don’t know how they sleep’: Widow Calls for Husband’s Killers to Come Forward After 25 Years on The Run

The say time heals all wounds, but for Mary Franklin the pain is still very real as she prepares to mark the 25th anniversary of her husband’s murder. Melvin Bernard Franklin was shot and killed when he encountered a robbery just steps from his Dorchester home as he walked home from work on the evening of October 15, 1996.

“Melvin, being the person he was, I believe he interrupted the robbery,” Mary said. “He was kind, humble and would help anybody.”

Mary believes Melvin tried to help the person who was being robbed and likely asked the robbers, who she described as young men, to move along. She said the victim ran off, leaving Melvin alone with the robbers, who shot him twice in the chest and then robbed him.

“I did hear the gunshots that night and saw the ambulance and police cars,” she recalled. “I didn’t know at the time it was my husband’s homicide scene.” Melvin was just 39 years old. To this day, his cold-blooded killers who left Mary a widow with three young children remain on the run. Mary said in 2014, after carrying around the weight of her husband’s murder for nearly 20 years, she decided to forgive his killers.

“I did something that probably sounds crazy to a lot of people, after being angry and mad at everybody, God, the whole world, I finally settled down,” she said. “By doing that, it released a lot of guilt, anxiety and shame from within me.” That is the day she became an unsolved homicide activist in Boston. “I am a voice for victims in urban communities whose murders are not solved,” she said. Mary started the Woman Survivors of Homicide Movement.

“Our main goal is to empower women because women in my community are predominantly the advocate for unsolved homicide victims,” she said. She teaches women how to speak up in a respectful way and work with unsolved homicide detectives.

“We teach them how to stand tall and not allow the crime, which they had nothing to do with, take them down and under,” she added. Mary said these women have discovered they’ve all been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) mainly because their loved ones’ murders remain unsolved.

“We don’t know if we’re standing at the bus stop with our loved one’s killer,” she said. “We don’t know when we walk into the grocery store, if the person behind us murdered our loved one.” She said the families of unsolved homicide victims are inclined to remain silent, but she’s looking to change that.

“We are taught that snitches get stitches,” she added. “If you’re the immediate family member of a victim of gun violence, that doesn’t apply to you. You have every right to fight for your loved one and fight for their justice.” Mary was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in March 2020 and doctors gave her 18 months to live, but she’s beaten the odds and responded extremely well to chemotherapy and other treatments.e

“I may hang around here another 3, 4 or 5 more years,” she said. “One thing I’d love to see before I leave this space is to have Melvin’s case solved. Now that I know I have more than 18 months to be in this space, that’s one of the most important things I’m fighting for and working to make happen.” Mary said at least three people know something about her husband’s murder and now is the time for them to come forward.

“Those people are the two shooters and the gentleman who was being robbed,” she said. “It has been 25 years now. I don’t know how they sleep. I believe Melvin’s case can be solved and I need the help of the people who were there.”

On October 15, Mary will attend an annual meeting with Boston Police to get justice for her husband. She and her grandson, Omari Franklin, will meet with Boston Police Lieutenant Detective Daniel Duff, Detective Larry Ellison and John Verner with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office. Mary acknowledges this could be her last meeting with them due to the unknowns surrounding her cancer diagnosis.

Following the meeting, Mary is inviting people to join her in front of Boston Police Headquarters at 10:30 a.m. where she’s going to announce a plan she has to clear numerous cold cases by adding significant resources to the Boston Police Department and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office. She wants to honor Melvin by honoring other victims of gun violence. She’s inviting family members to bring a picture of their loved one, prepare to speak about them and wear something purple.

Detectives assigned to the Boston Police Unsolved Homicide Unit continue to review the facts and circumstances surround Melvin Franklin’s murder and is asking anyone with information relative to this investigation to call 617-343-4470. Community members wishing to assist this investigation anonymously can do so by calling the CrimeStoppers Tip Line at 1-800-494-TIPS or by texting the word ‘TIP’ to CRIME (27463).