Man convicted of Omaha murder escapes prison system days after victim’s son was slain

Man convicted of Omaha murder escapes prison system days after victim’s son was slain
Anthony Gafford

A man convicted of a 1997 murder in Omaha has escaped from the state prison system.

Anthony Gafford, 40, walked away from his work-release program Saturday in Lincoln, according to information that the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services provided the Lincoln Police Department.

Gafford was sent to prison for killing 16-year-old Jacque Holbert in 1997. This month, Holbert’s grown son, 21-year-old Jacque S. “Jack” Holbert IV, was shot and killed while sleeping in a home near 38th and Burdette Streets.

Lincoln Police Capt. Todd Kocian said the department was notified that Gafford left the Community Corrections Center-Lincoln at 6 a.m. Saturday to report to work and never returned.

The Community Corrections Centers are the least restrictive facilities in the prison system, and people confined there are able to work and study in the community.

Gafford was 19 when he was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of Jacque Holbert. He was sentenced to 30 to 50 years in prison and was due to be released Dec. 11, 2022, according to state prison records. His next parole hearing was scheduled for April.

A representative of the Corrections Department couldn’t be reached for comment.

Gafford shot Jacque Holbert on Sept. 15, 1997, after Holbert stared him down as their vehicles passed each other, court records indicate. Gafford got out of his vehicle and shot Holbert in the chest, according to court testimony.

Jack Holbert was shot and killed Jan. 20 — six days before Gafford escaped. No arrests have been made in the case.

A representative of the Holbert family said he hadn’t heard of Gafford’s escape. He said the family is focused on dealing with the younger Holbert’s death. Jack Holbert’s funeral is on Tuesday afternoon.

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