Dateline | January 25, 2013
>>> two of the cold case detectives rico and hall punched up a mapquest address for comics world in windberg, pennsylvania and motored southeast. it was 2007 , 17 years after the murder, and like commandos synchronizing their watches the detectives had decided to execute simultaneous surprise interviews on michael george 's turf.
>> we had teams of detectives go to all three locations at exactly the same time.
>> michael at the store, his wife renee at the house and michael 's mother at her home back in hazel park , michigan .
>> when they found comics world the two detectives waited for customers to leave, checked their watches and sauntered in.
>> we were about a minute behind the other detectives and he was talking to renee, his wife and he says no, there's nobody here and he had his back to us as he walked to the door and he turned around and he said they're here and he got off the phone and he looked pretty sick at that point.
>> detective hall switched on the tape recorder he'd concealed in his jacket.
>> introduced ourselves. mike was pretty much unemotional and he said hey, come on in. have a seat and started talking to him.
>> this is some of that conversation.
>> we have a few questions for you. what did the police tell you?
>> he didn't say much at the beginning.
>> did he say this is great news? i've wondered for 17 years. and you've solved it.
>> it didn't get the typical response, you found somebody? or what do you have? nothing. he just started staring.
>> 17 years on, michael george claimed a flickering memory for events.
>> he became sweaty, twitchy, anything? ? he was very pale.
>> didn't make eye contact. most of the interview his head was looking down towards the table.
>> in 1990 his late-night conversation with the lead detective at the store after the murder, michael george had speculated that barb was killed in a botched robbery, someone after valuable vintage comic books .
>> he couldn't remember exactly how many comics were taken or the amount.
>> although he was sketch wet details he had no problem coming up with an answer on why barbara of all people had been murdered, listen as michael 's theory switches from robbery to revenge.
>> this was a vendetta and that, what? barbara took the bullet that was meant for him.
>> exactly. that was different from what he told the police back in 1990 .
>> was that different from what you heard?
>> absolutely. he'd come up with a new motive.
>> meanwhile, the prosecutor in michigan , the one of the one-time police chief was deeply curious about how the swoopdown interview was going.
>> were you surprised to hear that he talked to them and that he hadn't lawyered up or said i'm getting on the phone to my attorney right now?
>> very surprised. i think he was so shocked by the fact that we're still looking at him. so shocked that he didn't know what to do and that's why we didn't call him. that's why we didn't give him a head's up.
>> as the interview continued, michael george as he hadn't in 1990 now owned up to his philandering.
>> late in the 90-minute interview the conversation circled back to the earlier theme, robbery, the supposed theft of valuable comics. the detectives asked if anyone knew that he kept the good stuff in the back storage room. that's when things got testy and listen as george 's previously passive tone becomes more direct and confrontational.
>> the next day, in fact, he would need a lawyer. a criminal defense lawyer . the michigan detectives and the pennsylvania state police arrested him at his workplace, the comic bookstore. as he was led away after a later court appearance he loudly proclaimed that police had nabbed the wrong man.
>> there's no way. no, i didn't do this.
>> the cold case had turned red hot . michael george was returning to michigan and would stand trial for the first-degree murder of his wife. a case prosecutors knew would be hard to prove in the age of csi and show-me forensic evidence, that's because there was none. so it would come down to a single witness and his recollection of a solitary phone call he said he made on a friday the 13, 1990 .
>> coming up, a twist in court few would have predicted.
>> initially, never crossed the line. after five hours you start to worry.
>> when "the comic book murder