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.

https://gofund.me/13774c77

https://franklinobserver.town.news/g/franklin-town-ma/n/63559/brendon-owen-arraigned-murder-bail-denied

https://franklinobserver.town.news/g/franklin-town-ma/n/61287/grand-jury-indicts-owen

https://www.milforddailynews.com/story/news/2022/01/20/brendon-owen-indicted-franklin-ma-shirley-owen-murder-death-grand-jury/6600692001/

https://www.milforddailynews.com/obituaries/milford-daily-news_cn14002164

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/man-with-checklistgoogle-in-his-pocket-violated-restraining-order-beat-his-ex-wife-s-mother-murdered-his-ex-and-burned-down-house-authorities/ar-AARWWcu

https://news.yahoo.com/theres-history-fire-franklin-investigated-194326206.html

https://boston.cbslocal.com/2021/12/17/brendon-owen-franklin-ma-fire-murder-homicide-death-grace-lane/

https://franklinobserver.town.news/g/franklin-town-ma/n/61287/grand-jury-indicts-owen

https://www.masslive.com/boston/2021/12/shirley-owen-dead-and-her-estranged-husband-brendan-owen-arrested-following-assault-and-fire-in-franklin-officials-say.html

https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/12/17/metro/homicide-investigation-underway-home-franklin-where-large-fire-then-broke-out/

https://boston.cbslocal.com/2021/12/19/franklin-shirley-owen-vigil/

https://lawandcrime.com/crime/man-with-checklist-in-his-pocket-violated-restraining-order-beat-his-ex-wifes-mother-murdered-his-ex-and-burned-down-house-authorities/

A Question of Murder – East Bridgewater Version

Today’s case is more of a mystery – true at the end of the day there was a body on the lawn but what happened has never really been explained many years later.

Kimberly Bolenza Parker was 45 years old and healthy until she was found dead on the front lawn of her East Bridgewater home in March of 2013. Kimberly’s marriage was known to be an abusive one as her husband, Richard, was being tried for and was later convicted of abuse 15 months before when Kimberly reused to attend a Christmas party with him and he allegedly held her against her will after holding a knife to her throat, trying to tie her up, threw knives at her and threatened to kill her and her beloved golden retrievers. She luckily escaped and called 9-1-1 from a neighbors. It is unclear why they were still living together while he was at this time, being tried in court for this crime after serving 6 months he was released pending trial and moved back in. After her death, he was convicted of the abuse and sentenced to serve 4-6 years.

The night of her death, Kimberly was still alive when the initial 9-1-1 call came in and her husband was the only other party present at the house. Reportedly the call indicated that Kimberly was convulsing in the snow, she later passed away after being brought to a Brockton hospital.

So what leads a 45 year old healthy woman to die on their front lawn? According to reports her husband’s story was that Kimberly had gone outside to walk the dogs and fell convulsing and her husband called 9-1-1 and performed CPR. Articles I researched indicated that said the medical examiner there was no disease process that lead to her death, and she did not asphyxiate. There was some indication that she had high levels of an undisclosed medication that was prescribed to her in her system at the time of her death.

For transparency it is important to note, Kimberly had suffered with seizures in the past after a suspicious fall in her driveway left her with a traumatic brain injury a few years before her death. She could not even drive. It was never clear if that “fall” was an accident as her husband had claimed at the time. Her family has many doubts.

Adding to the speculation is the information that Kimberly Parker was a biosafety officer and her husband, a firefighter, was familiar with poisons and allegedly tried to kill himself with homemade Ricin in 2011. Her husband Richard was a former Captain in the Boston Fire Department and

There is not likely to be an answer or a trial in this case as her husband, a former Boston Fire Captain, passed away from Covid-19 last year. After his death, Kimberly’s family received her ashes from Richard’s family that was finalizing his affairs.

If you or anyone you know is in a abusive relationship and needs help, you can look for local resources or contact the Jane Doe Project https://www.janedoe.org/ but understand that domestic violence shelters operate on a open bed system – similar to when you are looking for a rehab or nursing home, in addition to other concerns that woman have like having to leave a job that they depend on for support or upend children. It’s not our job to judge, and you don’t know the path unless you have walked it.

https://www.enterprisenews.com/story/news/local/2020/12/24/kimberly-boleza-parker-east-bridgewater-stephanie-deeley-framingham-richard-parker-assault-death/4036191001/

https://www.boston25news.com/news/fox-25-investigates/family-wants-answers-in-death-of-allegedly-battered-wife-1/141850494/

https://www.mackinnonfuneral.com/obituary/Kimberly-Parker

https://www.enterprisenews.com/news/20190221/family-yearns-for-answers-years-after-east-bridgewater-womans-mysterious-death

https://www.enterprisenews.com/news/20190716/as-questions-linger-in-wifes-death-east-bridgewater-abuser-being-released-early

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