Family and friends of Marie Bruce said today that they can breathe a little easier now that the mystery regarding the whereabouts of the man who shot their loved is over.
An autopsy on a body found near the jeep owned by George Zinkhan determined that it is of the University of Georgia professor. Mr. Zinkhan is accused of fatally shooting three people, including his wife, Ms. Bruce, two weeks ago on April 25 outside a small downtown community theatre in Athens.
Daisy Phelps, the aunt of Ms. Bruce, said her first reaction upon learning about the body is that she hoped it was Mr. Zinkhan, which would give the family a little peace of mind.
"Not knowing where he is was certainly our concern," Ms. Phelps said.
Ms. Bruce's mother, Betty Bruce, said her daughter's two children have moved to Augusta to live with her son, Lawrence. Though the children have adjusted well, she said Mr. Zinkhan's body being found today would bring them more closure, she said.
"I think it will be better for the children that way," Mrs. Bruce said.
Ruth Croft, Mrs. Bruce's neighbor and a longtime family friend, had a similar reaction.
"I hope and pray they have found the body, because that would be good for the family," Ms. Croft said. "This isn't good for them to not know."
She said that a strong support system has helped the family cope with the tragedy.
"We loved Marie and her family," Ms. Croft said. "The best support Betty can have is in their church and each other right now. They're a beautiful family.
"Those kids love their Uncle Lawrence," she said. "He's probably the best father figure they could have right now."