Police: GA professor shot wife's friend first

May 12, 2009 4:07:04 PM PDT
A Georgia professor shot and killed his wife's friend outside a community theater before turning the gun on her and a third person, authorities said Tuesday as they released new details about the slayings.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

A two-week international manhunt ended Saturday when authorities found the body of University of Georgia marketing professor George Zinkhan, 57, partially buried in a grave he'd dug himself. They said Tuesday he shot himself in the head but did not leave a suicide note.

Police have not released a motive in the April 25 killings, though they said Zinkhan and his wife were having "marital difficulties."

They would not say why they believe Zinkhan targeted Clemson University economist Tom Tanner first. Tanner was standing outside the theater not far from campus with Zinkhan's wife, Marie Bruce, and Ben Teague, another member of the Town & Gown Players, which was having a reunion at the Athens Community Theater that day.

All three died at the scene. It appeared Teague was not a target but was "at the wrong place, at the wrong time," said Jim Fullington with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Authorities said they believed Zinkhan left his two young children in the car during the shootings, but they weren't hurt. He was last seen dropping them off at a neighbor's house shortly after the shooting, saying there was an emergency.

Bulletins were issued nationwide and authorities kept watch on airports in case Zinkhan tried to flee to Amsterdam, where he has taught part-time at a university since 2007.

Nearly a week after the shootings, police found his passport and his wrecked Jeep in a ravine in a wooded area near his house.

Zinkhan had been a professor in the university's Terry College of Business and had no disciplinary problems, school officials said. He had taught at UGA since the 1990s and was fired after the shootings.

Zinkhan's wife, a 47-year-old family law attorney, had been serving as president of Town & Gown Players.

Tanner, 40, taught at the Strom Thurmond Institute of Government and Public Affairs in Clemson, S.C., and was playing Dr. John Watson in the group's performance of "Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure."

Teague, 63, was one of Town & Gown's longest-serving volunteers and was married to a popular University of Georgia English professor.

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