“Somebody needs to be held accountable for this.”
A grand jury has failed to indict a Columbus man on charges relating to an infamous Columbus cold case.
Curtis Hinton, 47, of Milwaukee, Wis., turned himself in to police in July after a warrant was issued for his arrest in June in connection to the 1997 murder of 70-year-old George Wilbanks. Wilbanks’s body was discovered November 2, 1997, in his home. He had been strangled and stabbed.
Wilbanks was the second of five elderly residents murdered between 1996 and 1998. All five of the murders remain unsolved.
Police Chief Selvain McQueen announced at a June press conference that Hinton was wanted in connection with the slaying.
Investigators alleged that Hinton committed the murder with Earnest Talley. Talley was arrested in February and charged with murder. At the time of Talley’s arrest, officials with the CPD said the murder investigation was still “ongoing.”
Hinton was arrested July 5. Bond was set at $2 million.
He was released from the Lowndes County Adult Detention Facility August 17 after a grand jury “no billed” his case. A “no bill” means that the grand jury did not find enough evidence to indict him; it does not necessarily mean that charges have been dropped.
“I got released about 8:30 in the morning on Friday [August 17],” Hinton said during a phone interview with the Packet. “I lollygagged around that afternoon, and on Saturday I got on the first thing smoking to Milwaukee. I needed to get back and check on my wife, my child, and everything they disrupted.”
Hinton said he didn’t want to speculate on why he was arrested.
“I didn’t do it, and I don’t know anything about it,” he said.
Hinton said he was considering filing a lawsuit over his arrest.
“I don’t know if I want to do that or not, but it was a thought,” he said. “I think somebody needs to be held accountable for this. This was a screw-up on somebody’s part, but because they no-billed me they can still bring charges in the future and ruin me. They know that’s their ace in the hole to make me leave this alone. I can’t take care of my wife and family from jail. That’s a lot of crap to put my friends and family through.”
He said he keenly feels the damage done to his reputation.
“In everybody’s eyes, I’m a killer,” he said. “The chief of police got on the television and said that they had solved the case. They took my name and stuck it in a meat grinder when they said they had the killer behind bars. I ain’t him, and they are wrong for accusing me.”