Dateline | January 25, 2013
>>> barbara george had been shot to death in the storage room of the comic bookshop she owned with her husband michael . six hours after her murder michael george had returned from the hospital to show the chief detective sergeant steckman around what was now a crime scene . where bash was shot was where a robbery must have happened. he noticed two important white boxes were gone.
>> as soon as he walked into the back room he said there were two cardboard boxes full of very expensive comic books missing.
>> so he's saying i had expensive stuff.
>> two boxes of comic books and they're gone.
>> michael george made a list of stolen comics and estimated their value at $12,600 and he later filed claims for missing spider-man, green lantern and ironman.
>> he's talking about his robbery.
>> his whole scenario was it had to be robbery.
>> michael george told the detective he had no idea what happened to his wife. he'd last seen her a little after 4:00 when she relieved him behind the counter. he said he took their two kids over to his mom's and remained there napping on his couch until 8:00 when he returned to the domecq bookstore. detective steckman asked him questions the cop would when a wife was murdered.
>> were there any girlfriends? no. any problems with your marriage? no. everything was fine. at the funeral days later mary shamo, the girlfriend of barb's brother couldn't make out what he was feeling because his ice were concealed behind dark, dark sunglasses. like something a blind person would wear. something you'd see stevie wonder wear and mary sensed that michael was acting strange, only increased after a visit to the trailer park home where michael george and barbara had lived. she and joe, barb's brother had gone over to give michael some support during tough days.
>> he comes in and her vacuum is sitting there and he grabs the vacuum and embraces the vacuum like he showed more emotion with this vacuum than he did the whole time.
>> what's he saying to the vacuum? oh, this was barb's vacuum and oh, my gosh, she's never going to use this vacuum again and he would go to a blender and she's never going to be in the kitchen again.
>> are you thinking what's up with this guy?
>> here you are grieving over these appliances there was no tears in his eyes and nothing going on. it was all an act.
>> the police, meanwhile, were chasing down bank records, insurance policies looking for leads on the speeding car, the man in the greek fisherman's cap, the so-called bearded lady and whether thisis could have been a botched robbery after all. they were also getting a crash course on the value of vintage comics. unhappily for them, the case detectives hadn't found the gun and hoped for forensics like a bloody print just weren't there, but the investigators were getting calls on the q.t. about michael george maybe having a girlfriend.
>> when did you learn about a shop assistant named renee .
>> that was two days later. we start red seefing phone calls from people advising us that we might want to look at his relationship with his employee named renee .
>> a little cozy. check it out. it was barb george who befriended reneea the their children's school and brought her to work at the comic bookstore. renee had five children and needed the money. her floundering marriage had ended in divorce just three weeks before barb's murder. not long after they buried barbara , mary shamo remembers dropping in unexpectedly at the comic bookshop along with her boyfriend joe and the pair got a shockeroo. they saw them canned onneling.
>> their arms were crossed over to each other and when you lose someone in your life and you look around at the world like what's going on? why does the world keep moving when i just lost someone so important and here this man is and he's as happy as a clam. you wouldn't think that he had any care in the world the way he was carrying on with her.
>> michael and renee would set up a new home together with the help of $130,000 life insurance payout on barb that he received as beneficiary.
>> is he becoming what cops call a person of interest?
>> yes. at that point he was. at that point he had to be.
>> he talked to the police casually at the store that night and then in a more formal interview with the police station six days later, but there would be no follow-ups. according to detective steckman, michael george said he would hire an attorney. lawyer up.
>> he'd stop talking.
>> this is a big, unsolved case?
>> yes. yes. how much frustration is building with the family?
>> what can you do? can't take -- you can take the law into your own hands, but what's going to happen with that?
>> did you ever talk about it?
>> i felt it. there was times i felt, you know, that i should do something, but, you know, i'm a catholic. i couldn't live with it.
>> in the comics, superheroes are ageless, but the comic bookshop in the clinton strip mall wasn't. the shop owner and his new wife renee had moved from town. they settled some 375 miles southeast of detroit in windberg, pa, population 4,000. an old coal mining town. on the main drag there, the george 's had opened their new shop, comics world.
>> with his two kids and renee 's five being raised together in their spacious new home they found friends among the other parents involved in their kids sports teams.
>> michael coached the basketball game. he never missed a game.
>> tremendous family man. respected business person in the community.
>> jeff had the electrical supply shop three blocks down from comics world.
>> his life were the kids and i would have to say his life was for renee . he treated her like gold.
>> they endeared themselves where families went back generations by raising money for the make a wish charity and giving money to the library. behind his good works he was just plain fun.
>> the guy always had a smile on his face and also always joking and everybody enjoyed being around him.
>> he had all, but severed ties with the murdered wife's family. uncles and aunts rarely saw barbara 's two girls. come the year 2000 , was michael george even aware that the longtime chief of police in his former town had passed away . chief robert smith had died without solving the nagging case of the comic book murder.
>> everyone in this town was aware of that crime, and probably myself more so because my dad was the chief of police at that time.
>> chief smith's son, eric smith .
>> i had driven by that store a thousand times with my old man and just about every time we drove by there there was -- there was something he said.
>> still gnawing at him.
>> there was no question about it.
>> four years after his father's death eric smith was elected chief prosecutor in mccomb county, michigan. he became responsible for all of the criminal cases in clinton township and beyond.
>> i can't tell you how many people came up to me and said that a family member of theirs had been murdered and been killed and nothing had been done and you could see the desperation on their face and they really thought that the system had passed them by, and i thought if i'm going to be the chief law enforcement officer of this county i can't let people out there think that we don't care. so we started a cold case unit very soon after i came in.
>> one of prosecutor's smith's first acts in office was to send out a letter to all of the police departments in his county asking police chiefs and detectives to look at their old unsolves with fresh eyes.
>> i did it with michael george in mind. there was no question in my mind that at the time i was hoping that we'd get a lot of cases i was hoping that clinton township would pick this case up.
>> and maybe resolve one for the old man.
>> that's it. that was the case that was unsolved for my old man, for my dad.
>> just as he'd hoped, the clinton township p.d. re-opened the dusty comic book murder case and what a surprise the detectives find there, someone did have a vital piece of information about the night of the murder, but his story had slipped through the cracks. how could police have missed it all those years?
>>> coming up, a phone call to the comic bookshop that seemed to come at a very bad time.
>> he sounded like he was in a busy and in a hurry to get off the phone.
>> when the comic book murder,