The last two of four defendants accused of murdering Vaughn couple Ted Ralston, 71, and Joanna Gormly, 73, in their Vaughn home in 2020 were found guilty at trial in Pierce County Superior Court June 8.
Ezra Ralston, 26 at the time of the deaths, was convicted of two counts of aggravated first degree murder, first degree conspiracy to commit murder, and first degree arson. He is the couple’s grandson and was living with them at the time. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Ezra was tried alongside Sean Higgins, 23 at the time of the murders, who was also convicted of two counts of aggravated first degree murder and first degree conspiracy to commit murder. He will be sentenced Aug. 18.
Spencer Kleine, then 23, accepted a plea deal to testify against Ezra and Higgins. He was sentenced to 45 years.
Rebecka Neubauer, Ezra’s then 22-year-old girlfriend when she committed the crimes, pleaded guilty to second degree murder and first degree conspiracy to commit murder April 20. She was sentenced to 33 years, four months.
The married couple were murdered in their Vaughn home during the early hours of May 17, 2020, as part of a plan for Ezra and Neubauer to allegedly take control of the property. Ezra set the house on fire later that day to cover the crime, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. The quick reaction of neighbors who turned garden hoses on the fire helped preserve crucial evidence, according to the Key Peninsula Fire Department.
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