Dateline | January 25, 2013
>>> their hole in the wall shop, comics world, had been barb and michael george 's just go for it passion. he collected thousands of comics over the years and he liked superheroes adventures way more than he liked selling insurance, so with help from barb's parents they took the jump and opened their little shop ina clinton township , michigan strip mall in the winter of 1988 . joe kowynia is barb's brother. he removes dents and dings from cars, but back in 1990 he was the kid brother who looked up to his sister, admired her on the softball field where she was a standout.
>> i used to go to her games. i remember going to the tournaments and she was the typical sister.
>> he was because up in a traditional polish catholic family and when she found her man, michael george , marriage was the principal of her life.
>> was she a happy bride?
>> very happy. she couldn't wait.
>> and when children came along, two girl, barbara george seemed complete.
>> her kids were a prime joy, and i think that was everything to her.
>> the night of friday the 13th brother joe and his then girlfriend now mary shamo drove over to the comic shop for what was to be a celebration. barb's surprise birthday party in the store for michael . he was turning 30. michael 's mother was going keep the two kids at her house for the weekend while barb and michael took off after the party for a cozy couple of days at a lodge.
>> so that would have been a friday night and it was going to be a romantic weekend?
>> a weekend not meant to be because by the time joe and mary got to the comic bookstore before 9:00, was there confusion, cop cars.
>> we pulled up and joe rolled down the window and the police stopped us and they said you can't go through. we're investigating a homicide. somebody was killed.
>> i immediately thought mike because i thought no one hated my sister. absolutely nobody.
>> but the victim wasn't mike. it was joe 's sister and it was up to detective sergeant donald steckman to make sense of the senseless. he'd been the investigator on duty when the hospital called that they'd had a woman come in with a single gunshot to the head.
>> now we had a full-blown homicide.
>> you know it's going to be a long night.
>> as the detective's team scoured the strip mall dumpsters for maybe a tossed weapon, clothing, something, he turned over the few facts he had so far. a woman with children gunned down execution style in the back of the little comic bookstore, police interviewed merchants and customers at the mall, had anyone seen anything out of the ordinary? it turned out tom and lenora ward did, the couple who had given barb first aid, and speeding car in front of the comic bookshop. and we both thought to ourselves, were the cars going too fast?
>> later, they wondered if that was the getaway car , but another observation tugged at them, who was the guy lurking outside the comic bookshop?
>> he had on a dark outfit for that time of the year, a greek fisherman's cap is how i would describe it.
>> another man would say he saw a different suspicious character , someone wearing what appeared to be a fake beard, possibly a bearded lady . the shop was small, deeper than it was wide. aisles and bins filled with comic books out front by the register and a door to the back storage room . barbara george had been found just inside the back room. on the far wall was a locked door that led to the alley in the rear.
>> now we're inside the comics' corner. crime scene techs began videotaping the crime scene .
>> the cash register . there was $750 still in the cash register , untouched. in a glass case just behind the till, the collectible vintsage comics and they hadn't been ransacked. some bin his been toppled over, but the emts might have done that as they ran to assist barb george as she lay on the floor. more than $100 was in her pocket and the good jewelry wasn't taken. later the medical examiner would determine it the shop owner had been shot from above, indicating she'd been crouching. another bullet had been fired first, police believed. it missed and went through a swimsuit calendar on the wall and into the empty shop on the other side of the sheet rock . if it was a robbery at the comic bookstore, it was an unusual one. just after 8:00, detective steckman was told that the husband of the victim had just arrived.
>> he identified himself and he said what's going on? we said well, there's been an incident here and we're sorry to tell you, but your wife has been injured.
>> injured, not dead.
>> we never told him what happened to her.
>> he doesn't know what happened to his wife.
>> to our knowledge we had no idea what was going on. you have to go over to the hospital because your wife is seriously injured.
>> at the hospital, michael george was informed that his wife had died of a gun shot wound to the head. a few minutes later, mary and his brother-in-law joe came rushing in. the girlfriend was undone by the awful news.
>> i'm blown away in shock. i wasn't even related to her, and i was devastated and i was crying and i was upset.
>> but there was someone that didn't seem as upset as mary was, the new widower, michael george . why was she so suspicious of the comic bookman?
>>> coming up, an untroubled husband with a very troubled marriage.
>> we started receiving phone calls. we might want to look at his relationship with his employee renee.
>> real cozy. you checked it out?
>> when "dateline" continues. but don't