Wife's affair played role in killings, papers show

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ATHENS, Ga. --- Former University of Georgia professor George Zinkhan III -- who shot and killed his wife and two others April 25 -- apparently was preparing for a divorce, according to court records.

George Zinkhan: Ex-UGA professor had secretly recorded a conversation with his wife about her affair, a police affidavit says.  Special
Special
George Zinkhan: Ex-UGA professor had secretly recorded a conversation with his wife about her affair, a police affidavit says.

Police have refused to discuss why Mr. Zinkhan killed his wife, Marie Bruce, and fellow Athens theater troupe members Tom Tanner and Ben Teague.

Mr. Zinkhan and Ms. Bruce had "marital difficulties," police said in a prepared statement two weeks ago, and the former business professor appeared to specifically target Mr. Tanner, shooting him first.

But authorities would not elaborate.

Documents obtained by the Athens Banner-Herald on Wednesday from Magistrate Court help fill in some blanks about events that led up to the killings.

Athens-Clarke police Sgt. Christopher Nichols said in search warrant applications that officials seized computers and a digital recorder that held telling clues from Mr. Zinkhan's house in Bogart, Ga., and his UGA office.

A document from a computer in the marketing professor's office in UGA's Brooks Hall "spoke about Mr. Zinkhan wanting to rebuild his relationship with his wife," Sgt. Nichols wrote.

Police have said the couple attended counseling for their marital problems, and two months before she was killed, Ms. Bruce, an Augusta native, removed her name from a joint bank account, according to a search warrant.

Mr. Zinkhan was "gathering information for a divorce" and secretly recorded a conversation with his wife, Sgt. Nichols stated in a search warrant application.

"The substance of the recording was concerning Marie Bruce's affair with Thomas Tanner," he wrote.

Sgt. Nichols believed "the murders were the result of continued contact between Marie Bruce and Thomas Tanner," he said in the affidavit.

In all, Athens-Clarke police applied for nine search warrants -- three for Mr. Zinkhan's house on Chesterfield Road near Georgia Square Mall, two for bank safe deposit boxes, and one each for his UGA office, the Jeep, the contents of the laptop inside the SUV and a storage unit on North Chase Street.

Investigators removed nothing from the storage unit or safe deposit boxes, which police thought might "contain other information that Mr. Zinkhan saved pertaining to the affair" between his wife and the other victim.

Authorities who searched Mr. Zinkhan's house seized more guns -- a revolver and two rifles -- and ammunition.

ONLINE EXTRA

View the search warrant applications obtained by The Athens Banner-Herald on Wednesday here. [PDF format]

Comments (32) Add comment
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APiratesLife4Me
0
Points
APiratesLife4Me 05/29/09 - 01:01 am
0
0
Murder is not a solution for

Murder is not a solution for anything but....... When people play with someones life, such as having an affair with ones spouse, then they put themselves in this kind of position. I feel for all the families involed. Hope the kids are doing well.

justus4
113
Points
justus4 05/29/09 - 01:31 am
0
0
This guy had weapons and had
Unpublished

This guy had weapons and had marriage problems. A bad mixture that effects competing interests that may end deadly. This info was already thought, but not said because the acts are happening daily. At the first counseling meeting, take all weapons. Who knows, it might save a life.

cajunnana2000
2
Points
cajunnana2000 05/29/09 - 02:39 am
0
0
I don;t know either of these

I don;t know either of these people, but for God sake why is it necessary to announce all this dirty laundry. They are all dead and it will only hurt the families and kids. As far as I'm concerned the murder is solved, people saw who did it and the shooter is not on trial and need a reason. PLEAZZZZZZZZZZE.

THOMSON
0
Points
THOMSON 05/29/09 - 05:08 am
0
0
My prayers are for the family

My prayers are for the family of these two people. Shame on the AC for publishing this.

Riverman1
94245
Points
Riverman1 05/29/09 - 05:40 am
0
0
Another point is that the

Another point is that the family of Tom Tanner, the other man, is being hurt by all the revelations in the news.

stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 05/29/09 - 06:07 am
0
0
I pray for all involved

I pray for all involved especially those innocent children, they now have to deal with the burden that both their parents put on them. This woman did not deserve to die and bad judgement was used by both her and her husband.

bone
23
Points
bone 05/29/09 - 06:17 am
0
0
so it's okay for the AC to

so it's okay for the AC to publish information about justin elmore - information which bore no relevance to the police action which resulted in his death - but not to give more details regarding the not-so-mysterious shooting death of bruce & tanner? there is no excuse for murder, but now we know that bruce & tanner weren't randomly selected.

Anna2008
0
Points
Anna2008 05/29/09 - 06:23 am
0
0
There is always a reason for

There is always a reason for a murder. Anybody who read the first page in the AC would suspect the affair. It is common sense that something did not add up in this case. Even if the paper never said about the affair I suspected the situation. I do not think there is any reaso to puplish that though for the sake of the kids...

happythoughts
25
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happythoughts 05/29/09 - 06:50 am
0
0
This is the newspaper. If you

This is the newspaper. If you don't want your dirty laundry out there don't make any. One way of keeping you in line. She was in the public's eye and she had some drama in her life which made the news. That's life.

angryinga
0
Points
angryinga 05/29/09 - 06:57 am
0
0
i agree happythoughts

i agree happythoughts

LBenedict
2
Points
LBenedict 05/29/09 - 07:07 am
0
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justus4, I can't believe it,

justus4, I can't believe it, but I agree with you :-)

georgemarshall
0
Points
georgemarshall 05/29/09 - 07:15 am
0
0
Why would any man have

Why would any man have relations with anothers wife? Why would any woman have relations with another husband? When one does not honor their spouse you are not honoring God and that is satans work. No, the devil made me do it is NOT an excuse. Satan is busy destroying peoples lives everyday. We are all sinners. We must pray for each other every day. And if you think I am full of it then you do not know Christ.

HotFoot
17
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HotFoot 05/29/09 - 07:30 am
0
0
George, sorry, Christ and I

George, sorry, Christ and I have not been introduced. If you have to ask "why" people have affairs, you must be very sheltered. Obviously, it's not right, but it happens all the time. And happythoughts? I guarantee every last one of the people who have posted here so far have some dirty laundry they wouldn't want splashed on the front page...even ol' George.

jackfruitpaper833
41
Points
jackfruitpaper833 05/29/09 - 07:39 am
0
0
Love can make you do some

Love can make you do some crazy things.

InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 05/29/09 - 08:05 am
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HotFoot, I do believe George

HotFoot, I do believe George was making a retorical statement. As for not being introduced to Christ...I do believe you have but until your blinders come off you won't recognize him. I will have to agree with you about everyone has some dirty laundry they wouldn't want splashed on the front page.

InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 05/29/09 - 08:06 am
0
0
jackfruitpaper, it's not love

jackfruitpaper, it's not love that will make you do crazy things.....it's called lust.

georgemarshall
0
Points
georgemarshall 05/29/09 - 08:12 am
0
0
Yes hotfoot I am a sinner

Yes hotfoot I am a sinner too. But saved! And no I don't have to ask why people have affairs. Its just as I said. When one does not honor their spouse you do not honor God and that is satans work to destroy that relationship. And yes it happens everyday. Marriages are also saved everyday by those who truly let God lead the way. With Chirst all things are possible.

DEVGRU
0
Points
DEVGRU 05/29/09 - 08:31 am
0
0
Domestics are the most

Domestics are the most dangerous. Our court system feeds the fire. Judges should try to calm situations in divorce cases instead of punishing. They should also try to move the case forward as quickly as possible to keep from breeding further hatred between the parties. Someone needs to tell our local judges this, especially one of our influential Columbia County ones.

wise ole man
89
Points
wise ole man 05/29/09 - 08:45 am
0
0
Marie's affair did not play

Marie's affair did not play "a part" in her murder- her crazy husband's mental condition did. As far as comparing this case to Elmore- get real- 3 innocent people were murdered her and their killer killed himself. Elmore was far from innocent. This is a needless act on the AC's part. I guess it was a slow news day.

420Time
0
Points
420Time 05/29/09 - 08:48 am
0
0
Pro wrestling legend Hulk

Pro wrestling legend Hulk Hogan, embroiled in a bitter divorce with his wife, Linda, told Rolling Stone magazine he can "totally understand" O.J. Simpson, the former football great found liable for the deaths of his wife and another man.

"I could have turned everything into a crime scene like O.J., cutting everybody's throat," Hogan said in the interview for a feature that will run in Friday's edition of the magazine.

"You live half a mile from the 20,000-square-foot home you can't go to anymore, you're driving through downtown Clearwater [Florida] and see a 19-year-old boy driving your Escalade, and you know that a 19-year-old boy is sleeping in your bed, with your wife ...

"I totally understand O.J. I get it," Hogan said.

sugarbutton
1258
Points
sugarbutton 05/29/09 - 09:07 am
0
0
Dirty laundry? Quite

Dirty laundry? Quite frankly, It's not anyone's business why he killed her...we all know he did. Why should the rest of the families have to suffer even more. The children have enough to survive without all this bull. It's so sad to be cruel when children are involved. It's very difficult to explain this world to them...believe me...I know and the caretakers of these two children know. Life does have to go on, but it should go on without the atrocities of bullchheeeeeettttt of the press.

Riverman1
94245
Points
Riverman1 05/29/09 - 10:41 am
0
0
Keep in mind Tom Tanner had a

Keep in mind Tom Tanner had a 7 year old daughter who is going to be extremely hurt one day reading the negatives about her deceased father, also. It was a tragic matter for FOUR families and should be left to rest. Someone said it best the other day, let the relatives explain matters to the children later.

themaninthemirror
0
Points
themaninthemirror 05/29/09 - 11:07 am
0
0
However hurtful, however

However hurtful, however lurid these details may seem, the public has a right to know, as well as members of the family. The fact that Mr. Zinkham fled the scene made the matter a public affair because the auhorities needed to make the public aware of what had happened and that Mr. Zinkham was armed and possibly dangerous. Mr. Zinkham knew his wife was having an affair with Mr. Tanner, and this was speculated from the start. The real victim in this situation was Mr. Teague, whom, if he had known the real reason for Mr. Zinkham confronting his wife that day, would probably still be alive. I am not saying anyone deserved to be murdered in this situation. The families of all parties involved needed closure as to what and why this tragic incident occured. And since this cannot play out in court, we, the public, have a right to know, since we too were indirectly involved from the start. Had Mr. Zinkham been in a rational state of mind, he would have secured the services of a divorce lawyer, and took care of the problem legally.However, in the throes of passion, one is easily blinded as to the common sense thing to do.

lddist
101
Points
lddist 05/29/09 - 11:12 am
0
0
Why is it the AC's fault?

Why is it the AC's fault? They are just reporting the facts. You guys should be venting your anger at the deceased mother.
she had the affair. Is that ok? Should the father have committed his crime? No, but I totally understand. Not saying it's right, but I understand.

stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 05/29/09 - 12:02 pm
0
0
Hurt and anger can push good

Hurt and anger can push good people to do terrible things, no it isn't right but crimes of passion happen all the time. I feel sorry for all involved but the fact remains that this woman was married with two children and if she was so unhappy she should have gotten a divorce and then been with who ever she wanted to be with. And some of the posts are correct, people have affairs all the time and this just proves that when you get caught up in a situation like that bad things do and will continue to happen. Did she deserve to die, no, but her actions apparently did cause her husband to snap so wise old man I have to disagree with you on this one. People can and do snap and had this affair not been going on we would probably be discussing something different today.

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 05/29/09 - 12:15 pm
0
0
I most definitely don't agree

I most definitely don't agree with justus4 and LBenedict on this one. My ex, his "special friend" and I have all owned weapons, and at least my ex and I are excellent shots, (we've both won target-shooting awards). I don't know about "her", but in any event, I carried almost all the time, and had plenty of reason to wish them harm, but none of us shot at each other at any point in time, (of course it helped that before the divorce was final, my lawyer notified her to stay off my property). As much as I am disgusted and angry about what they did, most people know that shooting an ex spouse and/or his or her lover, certainly doesn't make things any better for anybody, it is only vengeance which just backfires in many ways on the person that does the violence. It is better to let them go. There is no need for trying to exact justice, the justice will come when they realize they've been living in a fantasy world, and reality starts to bite. Too bad adulterers do so much damage to spouses and families before reality hits them and guilt and remorse set in.

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 05/29/09 - 12:43 pm
0
0
There is no need to take

There is no need to take weapons from spouses going through a divorce, if there is no prior history of violence. The majority of people don't resort to violence during divorce. I had plenty of reason to be angry throughout our marriage & years of verbal abuse, I had plenty of reason to be angry, at the neighbors that verbally abused, slandered, shot at me & my pets, vandalized and burglarized my property, & made false accusations, but I didn't retaliate in any way, other than make police reports regarding what they did. Not once did I ever threaten them with a gun, call them a name, or shoot at them. I doubt they even knew I carried a weapon. No, most people do not resort to violence even under severe circumstances. This man snapped, that is not predictable. I think resorting to violence against the others & then himself were very selfish acts, he could not see what it would do to his children. He MUST have snapped. I could never willingly hurt my children's father, because of what it would do to my children. And frankly, I wouldn't hurt his "friend" either, because that would also hurt him; if he's hurting, our children hurt. No vengeance is worth that.

corgimom
38717
Points
corgimom 05/29/09 - 03:44 pm
0
0
If your spouse has an affair,

If your spouse has an affair, then divorce. It is not an excuse for murder. Find someone else who loves you. He was a selfish, self-centered, egotistical piece of crap. The real heartache is their kids, who lost both of their parents.

sueboo418
37
Points
sueboo418 05/29/09 - 03:55 pm
0
0
Amen corgimom!! I don't

Amen corgimom!! I don't condone affairs when married but we don't know the situation and what caused the affair IF it was an actual affair. It may have been someone she confided in with her marital problems which is not good either. I went to elementary through high school with Marie and she was a smart, sweet person and I think no less of her today with all of these articles and feel for her family for their loss. Rest in peace Marie.

JohnQPublic
5
Points
JohnQPublic 05/29/09 - 03:59 pm
0
0
If you or your spouse want

If you or your spouse want someone else, get a divorce. Don't flaunt and rub the affair into your spouse's face. That's just mean, stupid and dangerous. Get a divorce and get on with your life. Besides it's not good to carry unfinished business into the next relationship. Let divine justice take care of vengence. "The sun doesn't shine on the same dog's behind all the time."

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