The Murder of Shirley Branco Owen – Franklin, MA

Shirley Branco Owen was born on 02/13/1972 to Mary (Wade) Branco and the late Thomas F Branco. She was born and raised in Lawrence, MA, graduating from St Mary’s High School.

She met Brendon Owen in 1998 when they worked in the financial industry together at Fidelity. Shirley and Brendon were divorced and she lived with her two teenage children and her 74 year old mother, Mary, at 11 Grace Lane in Franklin, MA. This home was built during the marriage at the end of 2012 and the family moved in in 2013. Shirley retained the house in the subsequent contentious divorce which reportedly was filed for in 2014.

Shirley had been married to Brendon J. Owen, 47, of East Bridgewater for 11 years between 2003-2014 but had been divorced for over 5 years at the time of this incident. Despite the divorce being years in the past, there was trouble between the two which had lead to Shirley being granted a permanent restraining order. This restraining order was violated when it was found that Mr Owen had been communicating with his young son in November of 2021, and a hearing was pending.

Brendon Owen was highly educated but unemployed since losing his job as a portfolio analyst at John Hancock in 2016 due to developing a serious seizure disorder. Mark was on disability and lived with his mother in a 55 and over community.

At approximately 7:15 in the morning, after Shirley left to bring the children to school, Brendon Owens allegedly entered the property carrying a lead pipe and a hammer. He encountered Shirley’s elderly mother – reportedly calling her a C**t and other insults, blaming her for “taking his kids away”. He allegedly hit the elderly woman with a lead pipe, then bound and gagged her with duct tape in a bathroom located off of a bedroom before smashing her phone, warning her not to warn her daughter before proceeding further in to the house.

Against most odds, Mary escaped and was able to get to a neighbor’s house to call 9-1-1. Unfortunately, reports indicate Shirley returned home while Mary was escaping and that Mary could hear her daughter screaming but was unable to help her further. The 9-1-1 call was received at 7:40 am and the police responded quickly, arriving within minutes.

Upon arrival, police indicate locating Mr. Owens with lighter fluid, with the couch burning. He was uncooperative with police – spraying and lighting more of the lighter fluid and attempting to flee out of another door. Police had to pursue him and had to taser him to subdue him. Unfortunately, there arrival was not fast enough to save Shirley.

Shirley was found face down between the garage and the home. She suffered severe blunt force trauma to the back of her head and there was nothing that could be done to save her. Shirley was pronounced dead at the scene. Her injuries were significant – 5 areas of her skull had trauma, her jaw was broken, wounds on her legs, thighs, arms and hands and shoulders were noted at autopsy. She had post mortem burns.

When he was arrested, Brendon Owens had 2 notes, a checklist and lighter fluid in his possession. He had a black backpack containing blood stained hammer, blood stained lead pipe, zip ties, lighters, rolls of trash bags, pepper gels, head lamp, cutting tools, screwdrivers, a sort, hoodie, sweatpants, $500, and his license. He was even wearing an athletic cup, thinking clearly enough for self preservation if the victim fought back. He had blood on his hands , shoes and clothes.

The notes in his possession were reportedly addressed to his mother and his children. The contents have not been disclosed as this case is still pending.

A checklist was also present in his pocket – the checklist had directions to the Grace Lane home, and listed lighter fluid, shovel, plastic, black car flooring, lighter, flash, coat, shower, new sneakers, change of clothes, black wrap, lime, Gatorade and cough drops.

Mr. Owen’s mother’s RAV4 was found on nearby Mercer Street, and contained lime and garbage bags.

Reviewing the facts here, It’s going to be hard for defense to argue innocence or dispute premeditation since there were witnesses and he was caught in the act with the evidence. The significant amount of planning, and then contingency planning makes any temporary insanity defense difficult. It seems he planned throughly, even to going to bed early the night before and dressing all in black. He used her schedule with the children against her, attacking her elderly mother after she had left to drop the children at school.

The fire Brendon set spread rapidly and burned the house quickly and significantly damaged the home. What was left of the home was razed for safety. The children lost everything – their mom, their dog and their home with all of their possessions right before Christmas. A go fund me was posted and raised over $370,000. A link is below if anyone is interested in donating as I am sure this family will have ongoing needs to recover from this tragedy.

Shirley’s mother survived, but needed stitches for the wound on her head. Suffering the traumatic loss of her daughter and her home despite the fact that she tried so hard to save them, after being attacked herself.

Brendon Owens is currently facing Murder, Arson, Kidnapping, Home Invasion and Assault and battery charges. Bail has been denied. A scheduled hearing is set for April 4th. Will update as this case progresses.

Cold Case – Jane M. Gilboy Murder in Franklin, MA 7/18/1988

Jane Gilboy was a 64 year old bookkeeper for Camgear, a chemical company in Norfolk, MA. Born in 1924, She was a Navy Veteran and served during World War 2.

At the time of her death, Jane lived with a live-in boyfriend Leo Demille at 783 King Street Franklin, MA. She had been previously married but her husband, Richard Stephen Gilboy passed away 12/31/1979 at just 58 years old, leaving her widowed.

Jane spent the weekend vacationing with a friend in Cape Cod, returning Sunday night. Jane went to work as usual the next day 07/18/1988, and punched out around 4 pm. The details of her commute are known down to her route, and the fact that she stopped at a local convenience store as she frequently did on her way home.

Jane returned home and parked the car as usual and entered the house through the backdoor around 4:15 pm and it appears that was when she was attacked from behind. Jane has found by her boyfriend when he returned home just after 6 pm face down in the living room with her keys next to her. She had been brutally beaten, receiving a skull fracture from blunt force trauma and her throat was slit.

Jane’s purse and the murder weapons were missing from the scene. She was severely injured, and first responders were unable to save her. She was fully clothed with no reports of any kind of sexual assault.

There are no articles with any information on potential suspects, and this case is truly cold. Police have indicated they are people that the police believe might have information that are not cooperating. There was DNA tested in 2003 from a blood sample found, but the all that was released was that the “testing did not produce the expected results”.

If you have any information that could help solve this case, reach out to the Franklin Police Department at Telephone: (508) 528-1212.

Both Jane and her husband are laid to rest at Saint Mary’s Cemetery in Franklin, MA.

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