Man found guilty in 1983 bloody rampage killing of coworkers at Corvette Concepts in League City

Jesse Dean Kursh has been found guilty of murder in the deaths of three people. (KPRC)

HOUSTON – The man accused of killing three people in a bloody workplace rampage in League City nearly 40 years ago has been convicted in the case. Jesse “Dean” Kersh was found guilty Friday on three counts of murder.

The conviction possibly brings an extra step toward closure for the families of Beth Yvette Wilburn, Thomas Earl McGraw and James Craig Oatis, who were all brutally stabbed and shot by Kersh at the Corvette Concepts Shop, located at 595 West Main Street. Their bodies were discovered at 7: 45 a.m. on Nov. 3, 1983.

During testimony last week, FBI Special Agent Richard Renison, who picked up the case in 2006, said his investigation led him to surmise that it all began when Kersh became upset after Wilburn, who was then co-owner of the specialty repair shop, questioned Kersh about “shoddy” work on a client’s vehicle.

Renison said that caused Kersh to snap, and he grabbed a screwdriver, first stabbing Willburn 114 times, before shooting her four times.

He then went after Oatis and McGraw, Renison said.

Oatis was a contracted electrician performing work on the premises. He was repairing a light fixture when he was shot 10 times. He was left hanging upside down on the ladder he had been working on.

McGraw, an industrial contract worker at the business, was stabbed 15 times and shot seven times.

The victims were discovered by another co-owner of the business, Robert Currie, the next morning.

Kersh, who maintained that all three victims were alive when he left for the evening, was long considered a possible suspect.

After the case sat cold for decades, DNA evidence and testimony from a witness provided investigators with more information to move the case forward.

According to investigators, the first significant break came in October 2006 when a man told FBI agents that he was with Kersh when Kersh man bought a .22-caliber handgun at a show months before the murders. That witness also told Renison that Kersh asked him to make a silencer for the firearm shortly after.

In 2013, when investigators took another look at the evidence, they found markings on one of the .22-caliber bullets at the crime scene, indicating a sound suppressor had been used on the gun.

Investigators also examined DNA that had been collected from under Wilburn’s fingernails. The conclusion was that Kersh could not be excluded as a contributor to the genetic material.

Then, on January 26, 2016, League City police detectives made their move.

They arrested Kersh, who was then 58 years old, at a restaurant in the 23000 block of Aldine Westfield Road in Spring, Texas. Three murder charges were accepted by the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office, and a collective bond amount was set at $150,000.

Kersh faced trial in May 2023 with Judge Jeth Jones, of the 122nd District Court, presiding over the case.

During the trial, defense attorney Kevin Rekoff offered possible motives for others to have done the killings, including the prospect that drugs were involved. He noted evidence collected at the scene indicated heavy drug use by some of the murder victims. That defense apparently did not hold.

It took more than 30 years to charge a suspect and, overall, 40 years to find someone guilty of murdering three people, who were all performing normal work duties on the day their lives were cut short.

Back in 2016 when Kersh was arrested, the League City Police Department thanked the multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Texas Rangers, for aiding in the investigation they called “a personal endeavor for all involved.”

No details have been released as of yet for Kersh’s sentencing.


Man accused in triple murder from 32 years ago in League City

Man accused in League City triple murder out of jail

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Mother of two. Award-winning lover of digital storytelling, sparked by my fascination of being a fashionable gossip like my favorite "Willona Woods" character from "Good Times." On the serious side, president of the Houston Association of Black Journalists and dedicated community servant. Happy to share the news with you each and every day!