It has been almost a year since the unthinkable happened in a quiet neighborhood in upscale Bluewater Bay.
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A 3-year-old boy named R.J. Franken died after being stabbed multiple times in his own home. Compounding the horror is that the boy‘s father, Frederick Franken Sr., has been charged as the killer.
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The State Attorney‘s Office has announced it will seek the death penalty in the case, which is presently scheduled to go to trial March 9.
Bill Bishop, the chief assistant state attorney for Okaloosa County, said Monday that the court date is likely to change.
"I don‘t see that one being ready to go," he said. "That case is still going through discovery."
It was March 15, 2019, when Darrelly Franken, 38, an airman first class with the 96th Maintenance Group, arrived home to find her son deceased and Frederick, her husband, badly injured with what were determined to be self-inflicted stab wounds.
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She would later tell investigators the couple was having marital difficulties and that she had recently told Frederick she wanted a divorce.
Frederick Franken, 61, was arrested March 23 at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center, where he was recovering from his wounds. Two days prior to the arrest, court documents show, Franken, through counsel, declined to speak to law enforcement officers.
Franken has been held at the Okaloosa County Jail with no bond since being taken into custody. The single charge he faces is murder while engaged in the commission of a felony — domestic violence.
Darrelly Franken, now Rivera, filed for divorce last June and had her request granted in December.
Efforts to reach Rivera were not successful.
One intriguing aspect of the Franken case was found in federal court documents. In April of last year a federal postal inspector filed papers seeking permission to search the contents of a package Franken attempted to send to his daughter on the Caribbean island of Aruba.
The application indicated the postal service believed the package, sent prior to the fatal stabbing, could contain a cell phone thought to have been used by Franken in the hours before little R.J. was killed.
The warrant application seemed to suggest that authorities were looking at possible evidence tampering. It states that Franken and Darrelly "were engaged in a conversation throughout March 15, 2019, the date of the incident, until around 3 p.m."
Discovery records filed in the court case indicate the search warrant for the package was granted. Frederick Franken‘s cell phone records are listed as evidence collected in the case.