Burning Son’s

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Edward Graf Jr., 62, was first convicted in 1988 of burning 9-year-old Joby Graf and 8-year-old Jason Graf to death in a shed behind their Hewitt home in 1986, but after nearly a quarter of a century in jail, he was granted a new trial in 2013 after expert testimony refuted the arson evidence used in his first trial.

After years of maintaining that the 1986 fire that killed his two stepsons in a suburban Waco backyard shed was an accident he was released. He spent about 3 1/2 months at the halfway house before parole officials approved his new residence, the River Oaks Apartments on Water Street in Kerrville.

“I pray for the safety and welfare of citizens in any community where Ed Graf will live and work,” said Clare Bradburn, Graf’s ex-wife and the mother of the two boys, Jason, 8, and Joby, 9.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted Graf a retrial after the Innocence Project of Texas petitioned for a new trial on the basis of faulty fire investigation science.

At the retrial, the jury deadlocked on whether or not Graf, a former Community State Bank vice president and State Farm Insurance Co. employee, murdered his stepsons to cash in on $50,000 policies he took out in their name shortly before they were killed. The policies totaled $154,000 in double indemnity benefits then, an amount estimated around $310,000 today.

To avoid traumatizing Graf’s ex-wife, Clare Bradburn, and their families, firefighters who worked the scene destroyed the shed before potential forensic evidence could be found.

Eligible for parole in 2008 on the initial conviction, he was released immediately through a combination of 26 years time served and good-time credits. He found a loop hole, he really did. He admitted to the crime after all these years but because it happened so long ago there wasn’t much they could do. I hate he didn’t get the death penalty for what he did to those poor little boys. 

Since the crime occurred in 1986, the courts were required to observe sentencing and mandatory release guidelines in effect then, Hierholzer said.

He is required to wear an ankle monitoring bracelet and comply with a court-approved daily schedule, including finding a job. The bracelet tracks a parolee’s physical location and alerts the state to potential violations.