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Franklin - Local Town Pages

Candlelight Vigil Held for Shirley Owen

Dec 20, 2021 12:00AM ● By Judith Dorato O'Gara

In response to the horrific murder of Franklin resident Shirley Owen on Friday, December 17th by her ex-husband, hundreds of Franklin community members held a candlelight vigil on Sunday, December 19th, at Franklin Town Common. Franklin resident Rep.. Jeff Roy led the event, emphasizing to Owen’s family members, “that we – their community – are here for them, and we wrap our arms around them in love and solidarity.” Roy also recognized the efforts of first responders to the difficult call and introduced members of the Franklin Interfaith Council as well as Franklin educators who worked with the Owen children.

After a moment of silence, Julia Guilmette began and ended the vigil with heartfelt song, and Fr. Brian Manning, of St. Mary’s Parish, led opening prayer. Manning was followed by Rabbi Thomas Alpert of Temple Etz Chaim, who offered words of comfort but cautioned against ignoring the responsibility to take action to protect victims of domestic violence, noting, “we as a society have failed those who have fallen prey to domestic violence. We have not heard them as we should, and we have not protected them as we must.”

Kathleen McAdams, of St. John’s Episcopal Church, also offered prayer, expressing her confidence that Shirley was embraced in heaven, that the Lord was “walking beside” her family, and that because Christians were called to do so, they would also pray for the perpetrator, Brendan Owen, to “bring him to conversion of heart as we struggle to heal from this tragedy.”

Other members of the community who worked with the Owen children stood up express their sorrow for and solidarity with the family, including Coach Carmine Colace, of the FHS Wrestling team, Coach Scott Tuxbury, of Franklin Metro Basketball, Robin Heroux, teacher at Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School, and Matthew Connolly, teacher at Remington Middle School. Following the ceremony, officiants distributed purple candles to attendees to display in their windows as a visual support against domestic violence in support of the Owen family. Information about the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence ( was also made available.

Town members have moved quickly to support Owen's family, her two children, Jonathan and Juliana, and her mother, Mary Branco, left homeless by the crime. By the end of Friday night, a meal train for the family had been organized, largely filled, with additional meal contributions exceeding $4,000. A Go Fund Me fundraising page, "Shirley-in-our-hearts,”
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had raised over $260,000 by Monday morning, a raffle basket with contributions from local businesses was being organized by Franklin Future Leaders (contact Cheryl Sabin Hobbs on Facebook, Raffle Tickets are 3 for $25. Venmo accepted Cheryl-Hobbs-11. Drawing will be  Wednesday, the 22nd), over 2,400 people had joined a Facebook page to support the family ( ), with members of the page also organizing a holiday gift drive for the Owen/Branco family ( ).

In his remarks, Rep. Jeff Roy (D-Franklin) noted that Governor Baker and Lt. Governor had reached out to express support for the community of Franklin. Roy and Baker have organized a meeting scheduled for the week after Christmas, “to talk about exactly what we're going to do. Domestic violence creates an effect that ripples through families, communities, and states – sometimes for generations. We must find better ways to break this cycle and ensure that families have the tools they need to overcome and break free from such dangerous situations,” said Roy.

Brendan Owen, of East Bridgewater, was arrested Friday afternoon, December 17th on charges he murdered his former wife (Shirley Owen), assaulted his former mother-in-law (Mary Branco), and set fire to the Franklin home Owen and Branco shared on Friday morning, according to Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey. Owen, represented by Attorney Neil Madden, pleaded not guilty to the charges of murder, home invasion, kidnapping, arson of a dwelling house, and assault and battery causing serious bodily injury. A restraining order was in place against Mr. Owen at the time of the crime.

Wrentham District Court Judge Scott Peterson ordered Brendon Owen, 47, held without bail and to return to WRD on January 19, 2022 for a probable cause hearing.

According to District Attorney Morrissey and Franklin Police Chief Thomas J. Lynch, the FPD had received a 911 call at approximately 7:40 a.m. from a Grace Lane resident reporting an ongoing domestic assault at the residence of their neighbor Shirley Owen. Police arrived within 5 minutes and observed Mr. Owen inside the home. He ignored commands to open the door to police and instead exited the home through another door.

Police encountered him in the area of the garage and driveway, deploying a Taser to bring him into custody. Despite substantial smoke and fire inside the building, officers were able to evacuate Shirley Owen outside, but, despite first aid and life support measures by the Franklin Fire Department, she succumbed to her injuries.