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I-Team Exclusive: Dallas sons reveal what led to arrest in murder of their father

I-Team Exclusive: Dallas sons reveal what lead to arrest in murder of their father
I-Team Exclusive: Dallas sons reveal what lead to arrest in murder of their father 06:05

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - "Everyone wants to know what finally happened to get it here and the answer is..."

Michael Tobolowsky sits surrounded by his two brothers and their mom in his Dallas law office.

The family is not big fans of interviews. They've only sat down for a few over the last six years. And, they only did those past interviews in hopes this day would come. They say this may be their only and last interview.

Ginger Allen/CBS 11 News

"I will never in a million years forget Jonathan's scream the morning of May 13 (2016). That sound will be a nightmare in my mind for the rest of my life. And this will be the equivalent but on the positive side..."

Michael Tobolowsky says his brothers and mom will never forget the exact words they heard in a phone call just a few days ago.

"'My name is Detective Filingim and I am the detective on Ira's case and I want to tell you we have arrested Steven Aubrey for the murder of Ira Tobolowsky.' We just exploded," says Ira's widow Debbie Tobolowsky.

She says it's words she did not know if she would hear in her lifetime.

After six years, Michael's brother, Zach, says, "You get to the point when is this ever going to happen."

"I personally was very emotional. I had a very happy breakdown but like Michael and Zachary said happy is not the right word, it was just a very adrenalin filled moment for me," says Jonathan.

In the group setting, they all agree that no one had given up hope. And they all believe the man recently arrested is "100-percent" the killer.

Six years ago, the Dallas Fire Department responded to the Tobolowsky's Preston Hollow home engulfed in flames. Inside the garage, investigators discovered, Ira Tobolowsky, brutally murdered. In late April of this year, Dallas police arrested Steven Aubrey on capital murder charges in Florida -- where he lived. Aubrey and Tobolowsky knew each other because the two had been in a heated court battle.

Ginger Allen/CBS 11 News

According to police, "An investigation determined Tobolowsky entered his garage and was near his car when Aubrey assaulted him, pouring gasoline on the victim, setting him on fire, causing his death.

The Medical Examiner ruled Tobolowsky's death a homicide as a result of thermal burns, smoke inhalation, and blunt force trauma."

In the past, Steven Aubrey has repeatedly denied the allegations to the I-Team. His lawyer has not responded to repeated attempts to talk to him now.

In past interviews with the I-Team, the Tobolowskys showed us a place in their office which they called the "war room." Inside there, they collected and dug through what they believe was mounds of evidence against Aubrey- a man who was in a heated court battle with their father.

"We did as much as we could and anything we got we passed along but we could only do so much which is why everyone wants to know what finally happened to get it here and the answer is...we got a detective who got it here!"

The Tobolowskys call Dallas Police Detective Brian Fillingim their hero. "We got a detective who had a heart ...and was on a mission," says Debbie.

Detective Fillingim was the fourth detective assigned to this murder in six years. The brothers say he got the case 11 months ago.

"When Detective Fillingim came on there was already a mountain of evidence that was convincing. ...part of the things he did was to build upon that. ...that was only a year ago," says Zach. "We would not be here without Detective Fillingim."

In last April, Detective Filingim flew to Florida where Aubrey lived to make the arrest. The move thas now made headlines nationwide- even overseas in several well-known publications.

Jonathan says that's because his dad was "an amazing human being." He says, "This rocked the world. This rocked the world when someone like him was taken off of it."

Despite years of agony, even the family realizes the differences in their faces and demeanor compared to other times they've sat in front of the cameras.

"Look at all of our faces right now," says Michael. "We've talked to you and only you several times for the past six years and I don't think any one of us smiled once. There is that feeling that we've got but none of us can explain it."

Perhaps the recent developments, as well as what has happened over the last year, can explain the new adrenalin-filled moments.

Ginger Allen/CBS 11 News

"Within 12 month, 3 grandkids one from each," says Michael.

And the brothers glow explaining the chilling irony in each birthday.

"I have an 18-month-old boy Dylan Ira Tobolowsky. ...Dylan was born two days after my father's birthday," says Jonathan.

"My wife and I had a little girl in June. Her name is Isla Eve named after her grandpa Ira," says Zach. "She was born the day before Father's Day."

"My baby was the last of the three of us. Monroe Ira Tobolowsky," says Michael. "Monroe was born on his grandfather's birthday, November 17th."

Debbie smiles listening to her sons talk.

And then, she is moved by the emotion. "I look at them and I cry because they won't know their grandfather, but... these kids will grow up knowing their grandfather," says Debbie.

"He'll be their angel in heaven." She wipes away tears and replaces it with a huge joyous look.

Jonathan wraps up the entire interview with a thought which the entire family agrees on, " I don't think she's going to stop teaching them about their grandfather just like we didn't stop hoping and dreaming last week would come."


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