League City 1983 Cold Case Murder: Jesse Kersh found guilty on all 3 counts

A former mechanic has been found guilty of murdering his boss and two others in a horrific triple homicide in League City 40 years ago. For victims’ family members, this verdict is a long time coming. 

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Jesse Dean Kersh of League City was found guilty Friday by a Galveston County judge for the triple murder of Thomas Earl McGraw, Beth Yvette Wilburn, and James Oatis in November 1983.

The verdict came after nearly four days of deliberations. Kersh was taken into handcuffs and will now remain in Galveston Co. Jail, where he awaits sentencing. 

Loved ones of the three people viciously murdered that day back in 1983 have waited decades for justice and with the announcement of one word "guilty", jurors gave them what they’ve longed to hear.

Kersh was found guilty of murdering his boss Beth Wilburn, her boyfriend Tommy McGraw, and an electrician who was installing lighting there at Corvette Concept way back in 1983. 

Steve Mowrey, Beth Wilburn’s cousin. attended the trial but not the reading of the verdict. 

"It’s been very difficult just because mainly the loss of Beth and not having her in our lives obviously, but just never knowing if we were going to get any closure or resolve to this situation has been quite taxing on everyone in the family," he said. "The long jury deliberation certainly sent a message that they were trying to get this right, and I’m glad they did take the time to go through it." 

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Prosecutors say Kersh killed Wilburn, co-owner of the shop, stabbing her more than 100 times with a screwdriver and shooting her after they say she reprimanded him for failing to fix a car. They say Kersh then shot electrician James Oatis from the ladder he’d been working on, and then McGraw who arrived to pick up Wilburn. 

"The McGraw family, Oatis family, my family we’ve all suffered, and thought about, wondered how somebody can, in my case, could stab somebody 114 times and then shoot them five times after they were already dead," Mowrey says, describing injuries inflicted on his cousin Beth.  

Kersh was indicted in 2016 following a friend telling detectives Kersh had the same type of gun and silencer used in the triple murder, and after DNA could not exclude him.

"I’m very proud of all the work of the law enforcement agencies in this case, going back to 1983 the League City police. Over the years the FBI was involved. The rangers were involved," says Galveston County District Attorney Jack Roady.  

"The jury made the right decision. I feel like Beth can rest better," adds Mowrey who immediately shared the guilty verdict with Wilburn’s nearly 90-year-old mother. He says even as his family finds relief, they are praying for Kersh and his loved ones.


Kersh is set to be sentenced next month.

Immediately after the verdict Kersh’s attorney Kevin Rekoff asked for the jurors to be polled, and each member of the jury confirmed to the judge they find Kersh guilty of three counts of murder.

"Thank you for your service," he said to jurors. "I’d like to also have the opportunity to speak with you if you desire to do so. So I can get some insight as to the reasoning you used and the thought process you had."