BLUEWATER BAY ― Neighbors of a 3-year-old boy who was killed in an apparent domestic violence-related attack followed by a suicide attempt by his father on Friday were still reeling from the news Saturday afternoon.

 

 

Donald and Barbara Howth, who live in the Millers Run subdivision in Bluewater Bay, were filling their bird feeders in the backyard Friday afternoon when they saw multiple law enforcement vehicles pull up to the house across the street.

That was soon after the boy's mother arrived home.

“She usually works until around 5, but I saw her pull in the driveway earlier than usual and I thought, ‘Oh she’s home early, that’s good,' ” Barbara said. “Next thing I know, there’s cops all over the place.”

Okaloosa County sheriff's deputies were dispatched to 1476 Rawlins Court about 4:30 p.m. after receiving a 911 call, according to a press release from the Sheriff's Office.

The wife of 61-year-old Frederick Franken found him on the floor with their son, Frederick Franken Jr., the Sheriff's Office reported.

The boy was pronounced dead at the scene. The Medical Examiner’s Office will conduct an autopsy Monday, the Sheriff's Office said Saturday.

After the boy was killed, his father tried to kill himself with a weapon, the Sheriff's Office reported. The type of weapon was not mentioned.

Frederick Frankens was listed in critical condition Saturday at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center.

The Howths described the Frankens as a normal, quiet family who moved to the neighborhood last November.

“They were nice people, I thought,” Donald said. “They just stayed to themselves.”

“They always said hello and asked how you were doing,” Barbara said. “It seemed like everything was fine."

“He was a friendly little kid,” she said of the boy. “I used to give him lollipops.”

The couple said they never suspected a thing and that Frederick Sr. always seemed to treat his son well.

“Every time we saw him, he was always good to the kid,” she said. “I never saw him do anything to him, never heard him yell at the kid, nothing.”

Another neighbor who asked to remain anonymous painted the same picture.

“He and his little boy seemed really nice,” she said. “It’s unbelievable.”

The Howths said their sense of security has been shattered.

“You know it happens all the time, but it’s not close to home,” Barbara said. “This is too close to home. Now when we look out there (out the front door), you just keep thinking about what happened over there.”

“It makes you feel terrible,” Donald said. “I saw enough of that overseas. I didn’t want to see that so close to home.”