Saturday, February 06, 2016

"The Comic Book Murder" on Dateline; a cold circumstantial case comes back to nab an ex-husband 17 years later in Michigan


Dateline reaired a 2013 2-hour episode “The Comic Book Murder”, as detailed in this story in Inquisitor.
 
On Friday, July 13 1990, Barbara George was found collapsed by two teens in the comic book store she managed.  Police soon found she had been shot, and she did not survive.  Her husband Michael was of some interest because he remained aloof and collected on a life insurance policy.

Michael remarried, moved to Pennsylvania and re-opened the comic book business, and ran it for 17 years later, until one day police from Michigan showed up, having reopened a cold case because a detective found a note about a phone call that seemed to place Michael in the store at the time.
Michael was convicted, even though the trial judge almost threw out the case.  A retrial happened because of various irregularities, and Michael was convicted again.

The case has many disturbing “lessons”.  One is the idea of a conviction based on circumstantial evidence, with little direct physical evidence.  Another is the defendant’s claim that this had been a robbery attempt and that he was home.  It is indeed possible to be convicted of a crime against one’s own business, but that is more likely today to happen on the Internet.  It sounds like bad karma.  Stilll another is the importance of cold cases.  There is an open case in Prince Georges County, MD (two of them that may be related) from late 2008 that I hope Dateline will cover;  I’ve written about them before.



Still another is the apparent problem in George’s marriage.  Barbara (the first wife, who was murdered) had gained a lot of weight after the first pregnancy, and Michael seemed no longer attracted to her, while Michael was then himself still attractive by societal values  This sometimes happens to mothers as a result of a first child;  I knew of a couple like this in Dallas in the 1980s.  It led to divorce.  It isn’t pretty.  You think of this (“upward affiliation”) as a “gay world” problem, but it happens in the world of heterosexual marriage a lot.

Dateline will soon an episode about the Steve Avery (Netflix) case in Wisconsin.  NBC Dateline consistently produces documentaries of mystery cases as interesting as most Hollywood acted films.

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