A Washington man, Ezra Fleming Ralston, has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his grandparents and the subsequent arson of their house. Ralston, along with his girlfriend Rebecka Neubauer and two others, conspired to kill his grandparents, Joanna Gormley and Ted Ralston, in order to take over their waterfront property on Key Peninsula. The plot was uncovered during an investigation by the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.
On the night of May 17, 2020, neighbors reported hearing explosions coming from the victims’ house and called the fire department. Firefighters discovered the bodies of Gormley and Ted Ralston in the basement, with evidence suggesting they had been dragged down the stairs. Autopsies revealed that both victims had been stabbed to death.
Investigators also found evidence of arson, including gas cans and a propane tank in the house. Another gas canister was discovered in Ezra Ralston’s car. During the investigation, Ralston’s mother expressed concerns about his mental well-being, and Ralston’s father claimed that his son had falsely informed him that his grandparents had COVID symptoms.
Ralston’s girlfriend, Neubauer, admitted to discussing the murder plot with Ralston and expressed their desire to start a commune in the victims’ home. Text messages between the two revealed their sinister plan and Neubauer’s encouragement of Ralston’s actions.
Joanna Gormley and Ted Ralston were well-respected members of their community, and a memorial was held in their honor. Ralston was convicted by a grand jury and sentenced to life in prison, while Neubauer and two others involved in the plot also received significant prison sentences.