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George Banks shootings: 40 years later

It's a day many in the Wyoming Valley will never forget. Sunday marks the 40th anniversary of George Banks killing more than a dozen of his family members.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — September 25th, 1982. A date that will forever be a part of Luzerne County history.

"It's something that put Wilkes-Barre on that map. That was not something they wanted on the map," said former chief detective Jim Zardecki. 

It's been 40 years since George Banks, a former prison guard, killed his family in Wilkes-Barre and Jenkins Township. Leaving 13 people dead. Among them were five of his own children.

Jim Zardecki was the chief county detective on the case. He recounts the moments after he received the call.  As nothing could have prepared him for the sights, he would see on Schoolhouse Lane. 

"The thing that stands out the most of all was that there was a little girl sitting in the bed with her back against the wall, and she had this look of fear in her eyes that you could see. There was a bullet hole between her eyes, her head was cocked, and blood was spattered behind on the wall," explains Zardecki. 

40 years ago, Al Flora was an assistant public defender in Luzerne County, fresh out of law school. 

He was called to help defend George Banks. He says it was clear Banks was insane. 

 "I found him to be intelligent, but yet at the same time, I saw he was severely mentally ill. When you listened to his thought processes and how he explained things," said Flora. 

Banks testified on his own behalf during his trial. Flora questioned him on the stand. Banks told a jury that police killed his victims and moved the bodies to frame him. 

"After he testified, and as he was getting off the stand and I was the one who questioned him, I was really distraught over it at that point. He came past me, and he put his hand on my shoulder," said Flora. 

A jury found Banks guilty and sentenced him to death. That was later overturned due to his mental incompetence.

"I've learned to understand how fragile the human mind is, and everybody has a breaking point,' said Zardecki. 

George Banks remains in prison. He is now 80 years old.

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