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
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.


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

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Grasshopper 05/29/09 - 06:16 pm
This is none of anyone's

This is none of anyone's business, the lady was murdered and the killer is dead let it be. There are innocent people that are still hurting

beenhereawhile 05/29/09 - 08:33 pm
Come on. She was a domestic

Come on. She was a domestic attorney and knew how to play the game. You can do just about anything outside the presence of your children and still retain custody, provided there is no evidence that the children are "adversely affected" by the circumstances. She probably told him she was leaving, taking the kids, and anything else physically or monetarily she could get her hands on, including part of the home in the Netherlands. Don't underestimate the power of an attorney regarding their personal affairs, especially a female. And no, I am not male nor an attorney. It is still tragic no matter who reports what, when, and where. My suspicions were confirmed with this article.

mable8 05/29/09 - 09:19 pm
If the spouse doesn't like

If the spouse doesn't like what the other is doing, then separate or divorce...killing is so stupid and insensitive that it accomplishes nothing. I do not feel sorry for the perpetrator; he had no right to commit murder. For all anyone knows, he probably drove her to another more sympathetic person. Marriage vows say "for better or worse til death do us part," it is not a license to kill one another. He should hang for what he has done.

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