Woman dead, estranged husband in custody after domestic assault, fire at Franklin home

FRANKLIN, Mass. — A 47-year-old East Bridgewater man is charged with murdering his ex-wife, attacking her mother with lead people, and then setting the victim’s house on fire in a horrific case of domestic violence.

Authorities allege it all took place while the couple’s two children were at school.

The victim has been identified as 49-year-old Shirley Owen.

Brenden Owen pleaded not guilty in Wrentham District Court on charges of First Degree Murder, Home Invasion, Kidnapping, Arson and Assault, and Battery. He was ordered held without bail.

Authorities allege that at about 7:15 Friday morning, Owen first attacked his ex-mother-in-law in a laundry room at 11 Grace Lane, while Shirley Owen was out of the house, taking her two children to school.

Owen allegedly forced his ex-mother-in-law into a room, hit her, taped her up, and told her not to warn Shirley.

Shirley’s mother managed to escape to a neighbor’s house and call 911. She told police she could hear her daughter’s screams.

Responding Franklin Police saw Brendon Owen using lighter fluid to set a couch on fire. They used a taser to subdue him.

In court, a prosecutor said police discovered strong evidence that this was not a random act of violence, in the heat of the moment, but premeditated murder.

“This defendant violated the probate court order, did not respect that order. But instead, was dressed all in black. And he had a checklist on him of what he wanted to do. He had a hammer and a lead pipe, amongst other things. And in his vehicle the police officers could see, through the window, multiple bags of lime, and trash bags,” said Assistant Norfolk Country District Attorney Anne Yas.

Prosecutors say Shirley Owen had a long-standing restraining order against Brenden Owen for seven years, but that the two were in court several times over alleged violations.

The couple was due in court again next month.

“This is an isolated incident, these are people that knew one another, it’s unfortunate. The town is no less safe right now than it was this morning,” Franklin Police Chief Thomas Lynch said at a news conference.

A fundraiser has been organized to help Owen’s family.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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