Convicted felon kills landlord over $30 rent increase, police say

A Wisconsin man is accused of shooting his landlord in the back of the head over a $30 rent increase, rolling the elderly man’s body in a blanket and stashing it in a garage before visiting his probation officer and going out for drinks, police said.

Jason Christopher Tilley, 37, of Cudahy, was arrested Sunday on charges of first-degree intentional homicide and possession of a firearm by a felon. His bail was set at $750,000, but he is also being held in the Milwaukee County Jail on a probation hold, jail records show

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the 70-year-old victim’s wife called Greenfield police on March 1 when he failed to return home from a meeting with a tenant at his rental property in Cudahy. Fox 6 News reported that the woman identified the tenant as a man named Jason.

When an officer went to Tilley’s apartment to talk to him, he was not home, the news station reported. The officer noticed what appeared to be blood on the door and door frame of the unit, according to a criminal complaint.  

Two officers returned to the building the next day, at which point they looked in the garage and “observed what appeared to be a pool of blood that led to a large blanket rolled up against the wall,” Fox 6 reported

The victim’s body was found rolled up in the blanket, officials said.

His autopsy showed the victim died of a single gunshot wound to the head, the Journal Sentinel reported

Police officials said the landlord’s daughter reported finding her father’s car abandoned in a parking lot about seven miles from the apartment building. The criminal complaint stated that surveillance footage from the area showed a man parking the car, getting out and catching a bus nearby.

The Journal Sentinel reported that a police officer identified the man in the footage as Tilley.

When questioned by detectives, Tilley said he paid his landlord $560 in cash for his rent, but became upset when he was told the rent was being increased to $590. Though he initially denied any confrontation, he ultimately admitted to the shooting, police said. 

He told investigators he had a handgun in the pocket of his hoodie when they went into the garage while discussing the rent. Tilley told investigators “while they were talking, the victim turned away from him and that when he did, Tilley took out the gun and shot the victim,” Fox 6 reported

Tilley said he took cash from the landlord’s pocket, along with his car keys, the Journal Sentinel reported. He then hid the man’s body before taking the car and abandoning it where the victim’s daughter later spotted it. 

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Before heading to his probation officer’s office, Tilley went to Walmart and bought new clothes, leaving his old ones behind, the complaint stated. After leaving his probation appointment -- where he had to give a urine sample -- he went to a bar.

Tilley said he “had some beers and shots, went home and then got up and went to work the next day,” Fox 6 reported

Tilley was arrested at his job at the Patrick Cudahy meat packing plant.

WISN in Milwaukee reported that Tilley faces life in prison if convicted of murder and 10 years if convicted of the weapons charge. Wisconsin court records show an extensive criminal history for Tilley, who has previously faced charges including robbery, battery, burglary, cocaine possession and driving with a revoked license.

All those cases, stemming from 1998 to 2011, are listed as closed. Most of them ended with felony convictions. 

A 2018 case filed on Valentine’s Day involves harassment and a restraining order, the court records show. That case, originating in nearby Kenosha County, lists the Cudahy crime scene as Tilley’s address. 

Tilley was issued an injunction in the case, though details of the injunction were not available. 

The landlord’s slaying marks the first homicide investigation in Cudahy since 2016, WTMJ-TV reported.

Residents of the building where the homicide took place expressed shock over their landlord’s death.

“He was such a nice guy, he really was,” resident Leo Trudeau told the news station. “He was a decent human being.”

Sharon Cebula said she saw the victim outside the building shortly before he was killed. 

“I seen him, the landlord, that afternoon and then later I went to go pick up my son, and the landlord’s car was there and the garage door was open,” Cebula said. “When I came home an hour later, that car was gone and the garage door was closed.” 

Cebula said that Tilley, who lived in the apartment above hers, was behind on his rent, and another tenant -- who declined to be named -- said Tilley had an eviction notice posted on his door. 

Still, those who lived around him did not anticipate their neighbor being capable of killing someone.

“If he did do it, I think he deserves the full max of punishment,” Cebula said

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