Jo Franklin, a documentary filmmaker and journalist, tried to trick her family and friends for years into thinking she was a millionaire for when she was homeless, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.
Franklin, whose career was focused on covering the Middle East, went from living comfortably to being homeless and denying reality, according to The WSJ. There were nights she lived in a hotel parking garage in South Florida, the outlet reported. She reportedly befriended people at a local Starbucks and told them about having a personal driver and her home on Jupiter Island. She told them she stayed at a local hotel in order to remain near her job, according to the outlet.
The regulars at Starbucks gradually realized she often wore the same clothes and had holes in her shoes, The WSJ reported. Franklin reportedly claimed she did not own a cellphone to avoid being tracked by the Saudis.
“She is very ill and we need to have her put into a medical treatment facility of some type before she harms other people and herself,” George Franklin, her brother, wrote to his family back in 2014, the outlet reported.
He reportedly said Franklin “wasn’t ever going to admit she had a problem.”
Franklin had married and had a daughter and son, The WSJ reported. She reportedly split from her husband around 1996 and moved alone to California. Her family reportedly believes she became lost in her fantasies shortly after the divorce.
Ashley Trout, Franklin’s daughter, said Franklin spent beyond her means in California, concerning herself more with image than employment, according to The WSJ. Ashley reportedly confronted her mother about spending more than she should and lying. (RELATED: Despite Pouring Billions Into The Crisis, California Continues To Battle Surging Homelessness. Here’s Why).
“I don’t think she had the ability to stop lying,” she stated, the outlet reported.
“When anyone started to tamper with that fantasyland, it would get very, very dark,” Hugh Trout, Franklin’s son, told The WSJ.
Jo Franklin was once a D.C. journalist and documentarian. Later, fantasies derailed her life, and it would take a ruse from friends and her brother to lift her from homelessness.
— Jon (@jon_kamp) January 19, 2024
Franklin’s siblings saw her for the final time in 2009 at their father’s funeral, The WSJ reported. She was reportedly to be cut from his will as he believed her claims of wealth but inherited roughly $400,000, according to her younger sister.
Franklin was arrested multiple times for allegedly stealing from stores and possessing marijuana, The WSJ reported. She was reportedly evicted from her California rental in 2013 and went to Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Franklin’s siblings hatched a plan with her Starbucks friends in 2022, the outlet reported. Her brother George reportedly rented an apartment and had her friends offer her a housesitting gig to convince his sister to move in. She reportedly lived there until her death. She died July 19, 2023, according to her obituary.
“She hurt so many people,” her son sad, according to The WSJ, and added “nobody was more of a victim of whatever this illness was than herself.”