All the victims were good students, no records, no drugs or even alcohol found in the car, or in their systems. They had no known enemies. Mary and Zach were a couple and Sarah and Cody were a couple. They were all active in their respective church’s youth groups.
There wasn’t a single suspect. All area known violent criminals and perverts were cleared as much as they could be by law enforcement. The only piece of evidence they really had was a personalized hunting knife found at the bottom of the swimming hole engraved with the initials GGW and some Winston cigarette butts found next to the car.
That knife did Graham in. The cops being cops, didn’t think to contact the manufacturer and get a list of who ordered that model with that engraving for a few months, but Graham Welsh bit the big one once they did. There was only one order of that model with those initials and it was from Graham’s mother the year before. She gave him the knife as a Christmas present in 1992.
The dots connected as soon as Graham’s name slithered into the case. His knife was the murder weapon, he smoked Winstons like a fiend, when questioned, his wife admitted that he did not come home that night and spilled the beans that he was enraged that day because he got called into work and to an after-work event at a minor league baseball game. The final hammer dropped when Cody Rappoport gave a description of the attacker which exactly matched Graham.
Graham’s trial didn’t last long. He put up a fight with his public defender, but it was all for naught. He was sentenced to death on the 4th of July, 1995. The appeals began. Graham wouldn’t go sitting down, until he had to.
The world forgot about Graham Welsh at that point, even in Mississippi. He was largely going to be an afterthought until it was a news note that he was executed by electric chair.
Like many things in life, Graham’s case turned around when social media started to take off. A late-night status from Cody Rappoport threw the world on its head. Cody struggled to talk clearly due to his brain damage, but he could write clearly, and he wrote in the middle of the night on Facebook, that he was never convinced that Graham was actually the killer. He thought that the cops took advantage of him and his recovery so they could pin it on Graham and wrap the case up in a nice clean package.
That status was picked up by a reporter at a the Oxford Eagle and started a jailbreak of information. It turned out there was a side of Graham’s story which wasn’t told. Here is a quick flash of the case for Graham.
1. He had reported the knife stolen three months prior to the incident out of his truck parked at work in Batesville.
2. He was accounted for on the night of the murders at a Memphis Chicks minor league baseball game at a work function and was on the stadium’s security cameras.
3. No evidence of Graham’s DNA was found anywhere at the scene. However, an unidentified large amount of DNA was found.
The cracks in the case spilled from Northeast Mississippi to the desk of a crime reporter at The New York Times. The reporter did a three-part series about Graham and the case which rocked Oxford, brought some really ugly police misconduct to light and dropped a bomb when a second look into the case with advanced DNA testing found something unbelievable.
It turns out the mystery DNA all over the scene belonged to John Cole. Cole bore a resemblance to Graham, was from Memphis, and had been convicted of ruthlessly murdering college students in Arkansas in 1996. He was executed by the state of Tennessee a few years prior, so he would not see trial for the Oxford murders, but the case was all but wrapped in the eyes of the world.