DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s the place they grew up, played basketball and made countless home movies which their dad loved to edit.
Now, the Tobolowsky’s North Dallas home is the focus of haunting memories.
Michael, Jonathan and Zach Tobolowsky took the I-Team back there and walked us through exactly what they say happened to their father, Ira Tobolowsky, on May 13, 2016.
“Looking though that hole, you see one thing which is our parents garage,” Michael pointed to a place in the fence where he found what appears to be a manmade hole behind their house. Tobolowsky’s sons believe the person who murdered their father drilled a hole in the fence from the alley. They believe the killer spied on Tobolowsky for weeks or months before attacking him to learn his routine.
They said on May 13, around 7 a.m., the killer walked through the gate from their alley knowing exactly what Tobolowsky was about to do next.
Taking us into the now renovated garage, Zach, the youngest son, said, “He would walk behind both cars. There was a shelving unit right there. He would walk right here, open the door, put his bag in, close the door, open it up, and get in.”
But that morning, Tobolowsky never made it to his car.
“We think he walked up behind our dad and maybe pushed him from behind and then he set him on fire,” explained Michael, the middle son, a lawyer who has now taken over Tobolowsky’s law practice.
The family believes the push broke Tobolowsky’s back and he could not get up. By early afternoon, pictures of their family home, with smoke billowing from the rooftop, covered the early evening newscasts.
Today, one year later, the killer is still out there. Dallas Police tell us this is an on-going investigation. And, the sons have now revealed startling new details about what they’ve been dealing with for the last 12-months.
“It’s non-human. It’s non-human for someone to cause this much heartache,” said Jonathan, the oldest son.
For one year, the family says it has been harassed by two men who they believe hated their dad.
“Terror. Terrorized. I would say that is a good explanation of what has been going on,” Michael said. “…Starting with attacking our mother. By thinking the right thing to do after a family has gone through what we have gone through, is sue the widow.”
Who are these men?
Four months after the murder, Brian Vodicka and Steven Aubrey filed a defamation lawsuit against Mrs. Tobolowsky claiming the family had publicly accused them of killing their father.
“40 pages of lies meant to torment and make us hurt more than we already are,” Michael told the I-Team.
In public filings, Aubrey and Vodicka make several wild accusations calling the Tobolowskys the “North Texas Jewish Mafia” a group he said are involved in crime, fraud, and prostitution.
They claim Michael “promotes pornography” and is charged with “Indecency With A Child Sexual Contact, though he has not been found guilty. The charge involves a nine-year-old…” according to the court filings.
“It takes a special kind of evil…to torment a family who is already going through so much,” says Zach.
In the documents, Aubrey and Vodicka also say the Tobolowsky family attorney, Steven Schoettmer, murdered their dad.
Before Ira Tobolowsky’s death the lawyer had apparently made Aubrey angry in court. In retaliation, Tobolowsky said Aubrey and Vodicka wrote letters to the court calling Tobolowsky a “fraudster”. And, he says, they sent letters to others saying had joined ISIS.
Ira Tobolowsky filed a defamation lawsuit against the two men. He was in the middle of it when he was killed.
For more information about the legal timeline and the connection between Ira Tobolowsky and others who have filed lawsuits related to this case, click here.
After Tobolowsky’s murder, the I-Team learned detectives searched Aubrey and Vodicka’s two Dallas apartments and seized a propane tank, gas containers and a drill.
“Although we are scared and our mom is very scared for us, we know what our dad would have done,” Michael said. “He would have been standing her right in front of us and so for us not to do the same for him would not be fair.”
The I-Team tried to reach Aubrey and Vodicka. They have not responded to our attempts.
“Just let us figure out how to wake up every morning and put our left in front of our right foot,” Jonathan, the oldest son said. “We can’t even do that in peace!”
The Dallas Police Department did not want to talk on camera. They sent CBS11 the following statement:
“The Ira Tobolowsky murder remains an active investigation. On the day of the Tobolowsky murder, Dallas Police Homicide Detective Scott Sayers responded to the scene, which is not uncommon when a body is discovered in a fire. Evidence at the scene suggested that the case should be handled by Dallas Fire Rescue Arson personnel in accordance with established protocol. Over the weekend, as the case developed, DFR requested to meet with DPD investigative personnel and their chain of command regarding the case. Subsequent to this meeting, which I believe occurred on the following Monday, it was decided that DPD homicide would take the lead with support from DFR, particularly technical information regarding fires. To ensure the integrity of the case DPD can’t discuss what specific evidence has been found or the timeline in which it was discovered.”