Man arrested in 1983 League City triple homicide


Lindsey Loechel, Reporter

Jesse “Dean” Kersh was arrested outside a taco shop in Spring, Texas on January 26, 2016 after being charged with three cases of murder. The now 58-year old suspect is finally facing the consequences for his murders after more than three decades of frustration and unanswered questions regarding the gruesome crime that rocked League City in 1983.The murder is still remembered as the first multiple homicide and the most gruesome crime in the city’s history.

The case was called the “Corvette Concepts” case due to the fact that the murders were carried out at an automobile sale shop with that name. Beth Wilburn, 25 at the time of her murder, was the co-owner of the shop located at 595 West Main Street. She was stabbed 114 times and shot four times, resulting in her death. 28-year-old Thomas Earl McGraw, who was an oil field worker and friend of Wilburn, was stabbed with a screwdriver, then shot seven times.

James Oates, 22 at the time and an electrician who was hired to install fluorescent lighting in the shop, was shot multiple times in the head. Oates was married with two small children and another on the way, and had been paid just $20 to install the lights.

“He was about 30 minutes short of finishing the job when he was killed,” Lt. Jim Gibson, who spent more than a year investigating the case, said. “It was on a Wednesday night and what was interesting is that he was supposed to have done the work on the Sunday night before but couldn’t because his baby got sick. Then he was going to do it on Tuesday night, but he didn’t have enough gas money.”

The murders occurred the night of November 2, 1983 but were not discovered until the next morning when Wilburns’ business partner, Bob Currie, entered the shop and discovered the grisly scene. Police investigating the scene in 1983 said that Wilburn, who was in an office at the shop, was most likely the first murdered. Police believe that McGraw, whose body was found near the office, was killed moments after arriving to visit Wilburn. Oates, who was working on installing the lights in another area, was the last to die.

“Unless someone walks in off the street with a guilty conscience and confesses or gives us a good lead, I think this case is going to be around for a long time, I realize that every day that goes by the probability of us solving it gets dimmer and dimmer,” League City Police Chief Ron Wrobelski, main investigator of the murders, said following a futile two year investigation.

No one would have guessed that after more than 30 years, there would be a break through and an arrest in the case. Kersh was an employee at Corvette Concepts at the time of the murders and had always been on police radar. He was interviewed extensively in 1985 in connection with the murders. Kersh told investigators that all three victims were at the shop when he left work that day and that he did not own a .22-caliber handgun like the one used in the murders.

No new tips were received until 2006 when Darryl Krogman reported that he was with Kersh when Kersh bought a .22-cailber handgun at a gun show.  Krogman further reported that he had made a silencer for the .22-caliber handgun on Kersh’s request about six months prior to the murders.

Investigators now believe forensic evidence links Kersh to the murders and they are confident he acted alone. In 2013, investigators concluded that marks on the bullets recovered from the crime scene showed that some sort of silencer was used, which supported Krogman’s report and linked Kersh to the crime. They also compared DNA recovered from under Wilburns’ fingernails to that of Kersh and he could not be excluded. This was enough for Judge Kerry Neves of the 10th District Court of Galveston County to issue the arrest warrant.

Kersh is in jail on a $150,000 bond, $50,000 for each murder.  In Texas, the murder of two or more persons in one criminal episode is capital murder punishable by death, but that definition did not exist in 1983 and therefore cannot be applied to this case. This case carries a possible prison term of five to 99 years and/or a fine of up to $10,000 for each charge.