Police asked to reopen investigation into death of teen found hanging from noose in Trenton basement

James Franklin found death in October 2012

Police have been asked to reopen an investigation into the death of a teenager who was found hanging from a noose in the basement of a Trenton home eight years ago.

TRENTON, Mich. – Police have been asked to reopen an investigation into the death of a teenager who was found hanging from a noose in the basement of a Trenton home eight years ago.

Anthony Holman said he’ll never forget when he found his friend, James Franklin, 17, hanging in the basement of a Trenton home on Oct. 22, 2012.

Police said Franklin was found with a noose around his neck.

Authorities were called by a friend who lived at the home. The Medical Examiner ruled Franklin’s death a suicide.

But Franklin’s brother, Elijah Stallworth, told the Local 4 Defenders he doesn’t believe his brother killed himself.

Stallworth said the friend who called police that day posted to Facebook that he killed Franklin by hitting him in the head with a hammer and then hung his body. The friend is White and Franklin was Black, Stallworth said.

Trenton police investigated for a second time, and the autopsy didn’t reveal any trauma to Franklin’s head. The statements in the alleged Facebook post “appear to be unfounded,” officials said.

But this week, Trenton’s police chief posted on Facebook that the department is working with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office on the case. He said he revealed that information in an effort to be transparent during a time of social unrest around the country.

On Tuesday, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office told the Local 4 Defenders they want Michigan State Police on the case, saying, “There is information that was received that resulted in our request for MSP to investigate.”

Law enforcement expert and former Detroit police assistant chief Steve Dolunt said if there’s new evidence, police should get to the bottom of it.


About the Authors:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.