Originally created 02/02/05

Missing woman's body is found in river



SAVANNAH - An autopsy shows missing beautician Cindy Lynch accidentally drowned in the Wilmington River, Thunderbolt, Ga., police said Tuesday.

After two weeks of searching, police divers pulled the missing woman's body from the river Monday night.

"Circumstantially, I can say it's her," Thunderbolt Detective Bill Buttersworth said. "The more than $50,000 worth of jewelry was still there and the body was remarkably well preserved."

The body also had identifying surgical scars and clothing - a black sweater and black boots - consistent with the description Mrs. Lynch's relatives gave police.

Police are waiting for dental records to officially confirm the identification before releasing the body to the family for funeral arrangements.

Mrs. Lynch, a former beauty queen and owner of the Swains-boro beauty salon Bangles, would have turned 43 last week.

She was last seen Jan. 18 at about 11 p.m. in the parking lot of the Thunderbolt Marina.

Police say they think she was walking back to the yacht she lived aboard when she slipped and fell into the 20-foot-deep river.

She likely became unconscious after the fall, Detective Buttersworth said.

A GBI medical examiner found scratches on Mrs. Lynch's hands and a bruise on the top of her forehead, police said.

"No one heard a splash that night, and there's nothing to support that someone struck her," Detective Buttersworth said. "She hit something that had a flat surface - not a blow to the head."

Mrs. Lynch's family still suspects that foul play was involved and are pushing for further investigation. The family says marital problems and an argument the night she went missing may be a factor.

"There's enough circumstantial evidence that says this is extremely suspicious," said Randy Clark, Mrs. Lynch's brother and a Cobb County police officer. "We're all very suspicious, but we still don't know how to prove it in court."

Bill Bell, an attorney for the victim's husband, Chet Lynch, has said he believes alcohol may have contributed to Mrs. Lynch's fall. Police seized a nearly empty wine bottle from Mrs. Lynch's car, which was left in the marina parking lot.

Detective Buttersworth declined to comment on evidence from the car.

"At this point, we don't have a crime," he said. "But the investigation is still continuing, still active."