Daycare worker Jessica Padgett took her lunch break at 1 PM on November 21, 2014. She had to go fax a few things from the home business owned by her mother and stepfather, as well as help her stepfather with a computer program he was having trouble with. That was the last Jessica’s coworkers saw of her that day.
Coworkers didn’t believe that Jessica would just not come back to work and they were left with the sinking feeling that something terrible had happened. Jessica’s family also didn’t believe that this had been the case.
Jessica’s car was found parked at a Dollar General store, just one mile from the daycare center she worked at. Investigators also located Jessica’s phone inside the car. There were no signs of foul play and no evidence to suggest that Jessica had left on her own, but her broad daylight disappearance was enough to set the entire area of Northampton, Pennsylvania on edge.
It didn’t take long for investigators to piece together what happened and within days police had a suspect in custody.
Gregory Graf, Jessica’s stepfather, had been charged with her murder. Police were able to link him to Jessica’s car and noted several inconsistencies in his story. Graf admitted to killing Jessica and hiding her body while his wife, Jessica’s mother, had been in Florida for the weekend.
Investigators were able to obtain a search warrant. In addition to finding Jessica’s body on the property, police also recovered a large amount of marijuana from the basement. Graf was placed under arrest and charged with Jessica’s murder as well as the intent to distribute marijuana.
More evidence was found at Graf’s home, including video files on his home computer. Allegedly, days before Jessica’s disappearance Graf had gone shopping for various sex toys in anticipation for the opportunity to strike. After convincing Jessica to help him with a program on his computer, Jessica went to the home, where Graf shot her twice in the back of the head.
Graf dragged Jessica’s body down to the basement where he placed a plastic bag over her head. Graf then began performing sexual acts on Jessica’s corpse, which he had video taped. Afterwards, he wrapped her body in a comforter and covered her up in various leaves and debris on his seven-acre property.
During the 36-minute confession, Graf told police, “I’m not really a bad guy and I just lost my mind temporarily. I don’t want to hurt anybody.” Graf goes on to say that his mind was spinning and, for whatever reason, his thoughts immediately turned to sex. He also stated that he didn’t know why he thought he should video tape the act.
In spite of his confession, Graf decided to take the case to court. Initially, he applied for a public defender because “he didn’t want to burden his family financially.” This request was denied. Graf says that though he is guilty of murdering his stepdaughter, he just wanted the public to know that the murder and the horrific acts that would follow were not premeditated.
It only took a jury six hours to find Graf guilty. He is currently serving life in prison.