UPDATED Friday, August 22, 2014 --- 4:54 p.m.
It was a motel stay gone wrong. One Madison man found dead in the room he was renting. Now 7 years later, we sit down with his son who isn't giving up on finding his fathers killer.
Police say it was at the King's Inn Motel in Madison where George Thomas took his last breaths 7 years ago today. They say despite hundreds of interviews, they still don't know who killed him.
"Since he's been gone, things have been hard, they just haven't been the same," said Tony O'Brien, Thomas's son.
7 years have passed, and every day Tony wonders.
"As far as I know the person could be coming to my job as a customer, the person who killed my father. Or it could be someone I see everyday and never know, so there's just no closure," Tony added.
It was August 22nd, 2007 when police got a call saying they should check on 65-year-old George Thomas in room 148 of the King's Inn.
Finding a brutal crime scene and Thomas stabbed to death, police say it was a targeted attack. But by who?
"He's the kind of person that wouldn't hurt a fly so I don't know what made someone brutally murder him like that," said Tony.
Madison Police say they wouldn't call it a cold case, maybe lukewarm. With fewer and fewer leads coming in as the years go by.
"We also want to make sure that family members know that we are continually working to resolve the death of their loved one and we're working to bring the person responsible into the criminal justice system," said Lt. Stephanie Bradley Wilson with the MPD.
Tony says it gets harder each year to be optimistic about catching his fathers killer.
"Every year you just know they didn't find him again, they didn't find him again."
But MPD says they'll keep working.
"Homicide is a crime that we all just want to be able to say we brought that person to justice who took someone's life," said Bradley Wilson.
If you do know anything about this case Madison Police ask that you give them a call, or call Crimestoppers. If your information leads to an arrest, there is a reward.
Posted Monday, April 27, 2009 --- 7:00 a.m.
Madison Police pounded the pavement of the city's south side Friday, in search of answers almost two years after a local man is murdered.
The case is still unsolved, but Madison Police believe people in the city have critical information.
"This is where my Dad used to always come... "
Tony O'Brien remembers everything about visits to Madison's Brittingham Park with his father.
"I'd run around with other kids... throw rocks in the lake .. so it was a good memory."
Tony and his older sister, Opal Tomashevska would rather remember their father's generous way of life ...
"He'd always have a 5-dollar bill in his pocket, and if someone needed it, he'd hand it to him," Opal says.
... than the violent way of his death.
"You never think someone in your family will be murdered -- someone that close to you, you never think that... and it changes everything."
Everything changed the morning of August 22nd, 2007.
"This is the room right here where it happened," Capt. Joe Balles says.
The body of 65-year-old George Thomas was found in room 148 of the King's Inn.
"Whether he was sleeping at the time, we're not sure."
But immediately police were sure it was a murder.
"Pretty bloody crime scene..."
Police say Thomas died from stab wounds and blunt force trauma.
"Jody was good people. I met Jody one time when I needed a ride to the store," a man, who goes by the name Mustafa, says.
Mustafa was staying a couple of doors down from Thomas at the time.
"He had a beautiful smile ... Was just so laid back, like Bobby McFerrin ... don't worry, be happy. That's Jody," Mustafa says.
The friendly, carefree man who walked with limp was better known as the "tire man," or as Jody.
"Jody wouldn't kill a flee. He wouldn't kill a mosquito. He'd rather swat at it, never smash it. That's how good a person he was," Mustafa says.
That's also party of what makes Jody's murder a puzzle for police.
"He didn't discriminate against anyone. He would just help people at the side of the road," Balles says, "Unfortunately, some of that generosity may have contributed to his death that night."
"Lots of people knew him as the tire man... If they didn't know his name, 'cause he'd drive around with a truck full of tires, you'd always know it was him."
From a young age, Tony and Opal watched their father salvage tires...
"He'd give them to the neighborhood kids ... and I know he donated a lot of tires to where I grew up," Opal says.
Several years ago, family say Jody began to struggle with drugs, in part due to pain from a leg injury.
Court records show a conviction for cocaine possession in 2002.
Still, Jody's children say he always managed to provide.
"He was definitely a person who added to society and gave back and did have kids who were doing the same," Opal says.
Police do not believe Jody's murder was random. He knew a lot of people - people police still want to find.
"George is actually the kind of witness we're looking for -- a guy that really knew everybody and knew what was going on," Balles says.
But, nowadays, Mustafa says vacancy is the norm at the King's Inn.
"It's changed. His death has changed things. It's a tragedy it took his death to make a change."
"What is highly suspicious is who was around back then who's not around now," Balles says.
Tuesday marks what would've been Jody's 67th birthday.
"There's people, then there's human beings... Jody was a human being. He cared about everything and everybody," Mustafa says.
"He always greeted you with a smile," Opal says.
Tony and Opal, who see their father in themselves, believe he's in a better place.
"Faith got us through it."
But they hold out hope for justice.
"He was a person. This was not a throwaway person," Opal says.
This case is still active. Police say the state crime lab continues to analyze evidence collected at the scene, but they want people who knew Thomas or stopped at the same places to contact them. If you have any information, contact Madison Police or Crime Stoppers at 266-6014.