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Suspect doesn’t remember killing attorney inside her Orlando home, police say

Suspect reported missing from ORMC prior to home invasion, murder, investigators say

ORLANDO, Fla. – A 33-year-old man was arrested on murder charges in connection with the death of an attorney who was found dead inside her Delaney Park neighborhood home in Orlando.

Police said Erin Hartigan, 44, an Orange County government attorney who previously worked for the city of Orlando, was found slain Sunday after 4 a.m. inside a home in the 300 block of Jasmine Avenue.

Police said Hartigan’s mother called 911 and said her daughter had been attacked inside their home. Hartigan was dead and had multiple stab wounds when officers arrived at the home, according to police.

The victim’s mother called 911 at 4:28 a.m. after waking up to a commotion in the home, 911 calls show.

William Franklin, who police said was found hiding nearby in Lake Lurna, was arrested on charges of first-degree murder and burglary with a battery.

Detectives said Franklin had been reported missing from Orlando Health Regional Medical Center Sunday before he allegedly stabbed Hartigan. Police could not disclose why Hartigan was at the hospital but he was last seen at ORMC around 2 a.m.

ORMC is about .4 miles from Hartigan’s residence.

At this time, investigators said they cannot find a connection between Hartigan and her accused killer. Detectives said Hartigan’s home was likely chosen at random.

Erin Hartigan
Erin Hartigan

Police said several items of evidence were discovered in the blocks surrounding the crime scene, including two bloody kitchen knives. A third knife was found near the victim’s body, according to the report.

According to the arrest report, Hartigan’s mother was home at the time of the attack and awoke to the sounds of a struggle. She told investigators she did not recognize the voice of the man involved.

“Ms. Hartigan got out of bed and opened her door at which time she saw Erin lying on the floor. She saw an individual standing over her,” the report states. “Once she opened the door, the individual stood up, turned away from her and walked down the hallway.”

Neighbors on East Miller Street alerted police officers searching the area of surveillance video that showed Franklin behind their home. When officers found Franklin he was wet and told officers he had been swimming in the lake, according to the arrest affidavit.

In a 911 call, a man said he was alerted by another neighbor who could see someone in his backyard near Lake Lurna. Aware that police were in the area the man called 911 to tell police of the suspect’s whereabouts.

“It looks like there is an intruder in my backyard and my neighbor’s backyard,” the 911 caller said. “It looks like they are looking for that person.”

Franklin was not wearing pants, only boxer shorts and a shirt, according to the report.

Detectives who spoke with Franklin said he told them he does not remember what happened.

Franklin told detectives that while he was at Orlando health he was “given some type of drug which caused him to lose his memory.” He said he could not recall what he had done from the time he left ORMC to the time he was found by police at Lake Lurna, according to the report.

Throughout the interview with detectives, Franklin repeatedly said he could not recall exactly what happened after he left the hospital and he could not remember killing anyone, the report shows.

Slain attorney devoted years to public service in Orange County

Hartigan was currently working for the Orange County government as assistant county attorney at the time of her death. She had been employed by the county since 2016.

A representative for the city of Orlando confirmed Hartigan previously worked for the local government as a city planner.

To read more about Hartigan, click here.

“We, as a City, are deeply saddened by the tragic event and our hearts go out to the family and friends of Erin Hartigan. During her employment at the city, Erin was a kind, generous, well-regarded city planner dedicated to public service and was a true friend to many,” Public information officer Samantha Holsten said in an email.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings met with Hartigan’s mother Monday and shared this statement:

“I had the privilege to speak with Erin Hartigan’s mother Mrs. Lorraine Hartigan who helped me to truly understand what a tragic loss we all share with the passing of such a loving person. Erin will be greatly missed by many and we appreciate her four years of service as an Assistant County Attorney. I offer heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the Hartigan family.”

County attorney Jeffery Newton described Hartigan as a “cherished” team member over the past four years.

“Her tragic death represents an enormous loss to each and every one of us. Our heartfelt condolences, thoughts and prayers are with Erin’s mother, Lorraine, sister Carolyn, and brothers, Dennis and Sean,” Newton said.

Stay with News 6 for updates.