The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

August 7, 2007

Comic-store owner accused of murder

By PATRICK BUCHNOWSKI

WINDBER — The owner of a comic-book store has been charged with the execution-style murder of his wife 17 years ago – an arrest that is reverberating through the borough.

Michael Ralph George, 46, owner of Comics World in Windber, is charged by police in Clinton Township, Mich., with killing his then-wife, Barbara Marie George, in July 1990.

The 32-year-old’s body was found by customers in the back of the couple’s Michigan store – also Comics World – and $30,000 worth of comic books were taken, according to The Macomb Daily.

She died of a single shot to the head from a .38-caliber gun.

Barbara George was killed after closing the store to prepare a surprise birthday party for husband, then 30, the report said.

The couple had two small children.

Investigators from Michigan were in Somerset County last week continuing their investigation, Somerset County District Attorney Jerry Spangler said.

Spangler could not say what led investigators to George, 17 years later.

“Obviously, there must have been some recent developments,” he said.

George was picked up Saturday by state police in the 1000 block of Graham Avenue, where his store is.

He surrendered without incident, state police Cpl. Jeffrey Doman said.

George was arraigned by on-call District Judge Joseph Cannoni of Windber on a fugitive warrant and sent to the Somerset County Jail without bond.

It could not immediately be determined whether he has an attorney.

George, who since has remarried, is expected to have an extradition hearing this week before a Somerset County judge. After that, Spangler said, George will be taken to Michigan to stand trial for homicide and possession of a firearm to commit a felony.

Several Windber business owners declined to talk about George on Monday. Residents, though, said he is a friendly neighbor who refereed youth basketball and allowed children to play video games in the store.

“I was shocked when I heard about it,” one man said. “You never would have suspected it.”

At the time of the murder, police theorized the shooter was familiar with classic comic books and the trading card industry because of the value of the items taken.

Barbara George was killed at point-blank range in what authorities called an “execution-style” method, The Macomb Daily said. She was shot in the top of the head – which indicated she was sitting or kneeling at the time of the shooting, the report said.

Clinton Township police are remaining tight-lipped about the case and did not return a telephone call for comment.

Comics World in Windber was closed Monday.