Barbara George was found dead in her comic book store in Clinton Township, Michigan, almost three decades ago, and now Dateline NBC is telling the mother’s tragic story on Saturday night’s edition. The episode viewers will see tonight is a repeat show entitled “The Comic Book Murder,” which aired in 2013. Barbara George’s case went cold for almost 20 years, until a tenacious new prosecutor had the victim’s file reopened. Barbara George’s husband, Michael George, was eventually convicted of her murder and sentenced to life in prison.
The case of 32-year old Barbara George was a real life unsolved mystery. The Dateline NBC report will show that the murder of Barbara George occurred in July 1990. On the day she died, she had been preparing to have a party for her husband, Michael George. The store, Comics World, was outfitted in his favorite cartoon characters. But police say there was nothing funny about what customers found in the back.
When Barbara George wasn’t behind the counter, two impatiently waiting teens decided to look around the store to find her. That’s when they discovered the body of the 32-year old mother lying on the floor unresponsive. A nurse, who was also a regular customer at the comic book store, rushed to Barbara’s side to try to save her. Medics arrived and rushed the woman to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.
At first, it appeared that the woman could have fallen, or that she could have died from a heart attack. But, as the hospital staff inspected further, they found blood on the back of her head and a bullet wound. Barbara George’s death was listed as a homicide. Investigators and the police chief at the time worked feverishly to find the killer. No one had seen anything, except a strange person outside the store that day—a person who appeared to be a woman wearing a fake beard. Inside, nothing seemed to be stolen, and the dead woman was still wearing her expensive jewelry.
Family and friends of Barbara George grew suspicious after her husband, Michael, seemed completely aloof about her death. No one had seen him cry or act emotional in anyway. In fact, one woman testified that he had even flirted with her at Barbara’s funeral. Another person had caught Michael George and his pretty employee, Renee Kotula, interacting in a romantic way just after Barbara died. Many people agreed that Michael George did not seem like a man who was grieving. And it didn’t take him long to cash in on that insurance policy, either. He started the process for that right after his wife died. He would collect over $100,000 in insurance benefits.
While Barbara George’s family was grieving and agonizing over her death, Michael George was busy making a new life for himself with that female employee. Michael George and Renee Kotula moved in together and eventually married. After the comic book store closed up shop in 1992, Michael George and his new woman picked up and moved to Windber, Pennsylvania.
Dateline NBC will pick up 17 years later when detectives took another shot at the case. In the case file they found a clue that had literally sat in the file, untouched for more than a decade. It was a phone call from a patron who stated that he had called the store and spoken with Michael George around the time that the murder would have taken place. No one had ever been able to put Michael George in the store before that since his mother stated that she saw him sleeping on the couch.
A deeper look into the couple’s former marriage also revealed that George didn’t even seem to like Barbara—much less love her. Sources reported that they had heard him making negative comments about his wife, and that he seemed unhappy that she had gained so much weight after the birth of their daughters. It appeared that Michael George was definitely ready to move on with the new lady in his life.
The police finally arrested Michael George in 2007. At his 2008 trial, he cried like a baby when he was first found guilty of killing his wife. That guilty verdict was later tossed out, but George was found guilty again at his 2011 trial, according to Daily American. Some argue that it’s possible that Michael was not particularly sad about his Barbara George’s death, since he wanted to be with someone else, but that it doesn’t mean that he actually committed the crime.
But the Barbara George-Michael George comic book murder case didn’t end with his second conviction. In a strange twist, the Macomb Daily reported that a bullet was found in 2013 in the old comic book store that has since been purchased by a different business.
Take a look at the case for yourself on Dateline NBC when it airs tonight. Is it possible that Michael George didn’t kill his wife? And just who was that lady wearing the fake beard outside the comic book store the day Barbara was killed?
[Image via Dateline NBC/Facebook]