Indianapolis man faces murder charges for second time in 20 years

Tony Degrafreed, 50
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13 Investigates is learning more about the man who murdered one wife, and now stands accused of killing a second.

Tony Degrafreed, 50, is in the Marion County Jail as police try to figure out the motive behind a brutal beating and slashing early Sunday morning.

Degrafreed was arrested Sunday for the death of his wife, 47-year-old Rebecca "Becky" Degrafreed, at their northeast-side home in the 5700 block of Laurel Hall Drive around 8:00 a.m.

When Degrafreed walked out of prison in 2006, he had more than a man convicted of murder could hope for: a high school girlfriend turned wife who opened her home, helped him get a job and gave him a second chance at life. Now investigators allege he brutally attacked and killed Rebecca Degrafreed early Sunday morning, making her the second wife to die at his hands in 20 years.

There were six adults and three young children in the home when the incident happened.  Family members say the disturbance began with a thumping noise coming from the couple's bedroom. Rebecca's son thought Tony Degrafreed was having a seizure.

Jordan Yarbro said everyone was asleep when they heard a noise. He knocked on the bedroom door, but there was no reply.  Degrafreed said everything was all right, but there was another thump. Yarbro said he stepped back to kick in the door, but Tony Degrafreed opened it and tried to stab Yarbro.

The two fought. Degrafreed fled but was apprehended by police minutes later.

Yarbro didn't know his mother lay beaten, slashed and near death on a bedroom floor until after he fought off his stepfather.

"He had came out the room trying to stab me in the chest two times," said Yarbro.

The heart-breaking discovery inside prompted a spill of raw emotion outside.

"It was just a sight that you didn't want to see. It's a hard thing for any child to see," said Yarbro, who confided he had worries.

"In 1994 he killed his last wife, and I really didn't want my mom to marry him," he said.

Degrafreed shot and killed his wife Stacey Carter in 1994. Degrafreed's own biological daughter, Brianna Carter, told police about it.

Degrafreed was sentenced to 30 years in prison, but 13 Investigates learned he was released after serving just over 12 years.

Half of his sentence - 15 years - was shaved off for day to day good time credit. He received six months credit for time he spent in jail prior to his conviction and another six months for completing a GED. Degrafreed also got one year off his sentence for completing a high school diploma program and for getting an Associates Degree. He was on parole for two years and then released with no violations.

In 2012, court records show he was convicted of marijuana possession. He was sentenced to a year with 363 days suspended, serving just two days of executed time. He did not have to go back to prison because he was no longer on parole. With this latest murder charge, he's now in the Marion County Jail - charged with killing another wife for the second time in 20 years.

Family members were aware of his history, but struggle to explain what happened early Sunday.

"He done this before but he was heavily on drugs..he was heavily on cocaine. We can't use that excuse this time," said Lyn Howard, family friend.

The coroner's office says Rebecca Degrafreed died from blunt and sharp force trauma to the head and neck. Formal charges are pending against Tony Degrafreed.

"My mother was a very caring person. She helped any and everybody she could," said Yarbro. "Somebody would be down, she'd bring their spirit up. She helped everybody."

It's unclear what led to the murder.

Click here for Matt McCutcheon's original coverage of this story.