Tenant Accused of Killing Landlord was ‘Upset’ Over $30 Rent Increase

MILWAUKEE – A 37-year-old Wisconsin man accused of killing his landlord was upset over a $30 rent increase, prosecutors say.

Jason Tilley, of Cudahy, faces charges of first degree intentional homicide and possession of a firearm by a felon after he admitted to shooting his landlord in the back of the head, police say. Authorities have not yet identified the landlord.

"We never thought Jason would do that," said tenant Sharon Cebula.

Jason Tilley

According to the criminal complaint, the victim's wife reported her husband missing on Thursday, March 1. She told police her husband had gone to the apartment complex he owns in Cudahy to meet with a tenant who was identified as "Jason."

The complaint indicates an officer went to the apartment complex to speak with Tilley. Tilley was not there -- but the officer "did observe what appeared to be blood on the door and door frame" of Tilley's unit. Another resident indicated she saw Tilley and the victim "talking outside the garage area around 3:30 p.m." on March 1.

The next day, two officers returned to the apartment complex and looked in the garage, where they "observed what appeared to be a pool of blood that led to a large blanket rolled up against the wall." The victim was inside. An autopsy shows the victim died as a result of a gunshot wound to the back of the head.

"Someone loses a temper, maybe smack 'em or something, but to kill him..." said Cebula.

Tilley was arrested at his workplace on March 2. When questioned by investigators, Tilley stated he did meet with the victim. He paid the victim money for rent "and was told by the victim that his rent was being increased by $30," and Tilley said this upset him, according to the complaint.

Initially, Tilley gave investigators a description of his activities -- and did not mention any altercation with the landlord. When a detective stated that Tilley shot the victim and asked whether that was "right or wrong," Tilley paused and said, "yes."

"He just had a personal vendetta, you could say, against him," said Cebula.

Tilley told investigators when he went to the garage area to discuss the rent issue, "they were not arguing and there was no physical confrontation."

Prosecutors say Tilley admitted he went to the garage with a gun in the pocket of his hoodie and "while they were talking, the victim turned away from him and ... Tilley took out the gun and shot the victim."

Tilley allegedly took the victim's money and car keys before fleeing. He later abandoned the victim's car and bought new clothes, leaving the old ones at the store, prosecutors say.

Cebula told WITI she will never forget the landlord for his genuine kindness and dedication to the people in his buildings.

A check of criminal records indicates Tilley has previously been convicted of felony offenses.