Cold Case Wisconsin: Solving a 6-year mystery

Cold Case Wisconsin: Solving a 6-year mystery

Six years ago Thursday, Madison police made a grisly discovery inside a motel room. The victim had been stabbed, found dead in a pool of blood at the King’s Inn.

George Thomas made a living recycling tires and around town, was called the “Tire Man”. Since his death, there have been few leads. Investigators never found a weapon and Thomas’ killer is still on the loose.

But in a new interview, Madison police revealed they have pinpointed the people they think are involved in the 2007 killing. The Department’s Cold Case Task Force recently re-interviewed a group of witnesses.

Yet, despite the advances, Thomas’ son said he doesn’t expect his dad’s death to be solved.

In the first edition of our Cold Case Wisconsin series, Anthony O’Brien revisited the murder scene. For the first time, the motel owner allowed both O’Brien and News3 into the hotel room where Thomas was killed Aug. 22, 2007.

Thomas had been living at the King’s Inn for about a year. The 65-year-old was from Madison and had three children. He had been selling tires for about 30 years. Thomas struggled with substance abuse, but O’Brien said his dad lived a life far different from the violent way he died.

“I just want to know why they did it and what was the motive,” asked O’Brien. “I don’t understand because my dad wouldn’t fight back, he wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

“It wasn’t a random act by any stretch,” explained Madison Police Capt. Joe Balles.

A new team of officers dedicated only to unsolved murders re-investigated the Thomas case as early as last year. It seems they stumbled onto something, but Balles wouldn’t elaborate.

“If we, quite frankly, felt like we didn’t have any chance of charging this at all, we probably wouldn’t be speaking about this case like we are,” he said.


While Balles said the case is being actively investigated, it has long since disappeared from the headlines. O’Brien, though, has held on to the old newspaper clippings, much like he has the memory of when he last saw his dad.

“It was like a five-minute talk, I’ll see you later, call you later and then that was that,” said O’Brien, who has long put the past behind him. He hopes justice can be served, but said that won’t bring his father back. He’d rather focus on the future.

“I try to treat everybody how my dad showed me how to treat people,” he said. “I just keep living that.”

Madison police urge anyone to come forward with information and remind people they can remain anonymous by calling 608-266-6014. There is a $1,000 reward.