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Body of missing UGA professor found in woods

POSTED: May 10, 2009 12:04 a.m.

ATHENS — An international manhunt for a former University of Georgia professor accused of shooting his wife and two others ended Saturday when search dogs sniffed out his body in a wooded area about a mile from his abandoned Jeep.

Athens-Clarke County Police Chief Joseph Lumpkin said George Zinkhan’s body was found covered with brush and leaves in a shallow hole. It took search dogs about 10 minutes to discover Zinkhan’s body.

In a news conference Saturday afternoon in Bogart, just west of Athens, Lumpkin said two guns also were found near the body, .38-caliber and .22-caliber pistols, that matched the guns used in the April 25 shooting at Athens Community Theater.

Zinkhan had been believed to be on the run since the shooting, which took place during a reunion party at the Town & Gown Players, near downtown Athens. According to police, Zinkhan left his two children in the Jeep at the time of the shootings. He was seen shortly after dropping the children off with a neighbor, said there was "an emergency" and hurried off.

On April 30, police discovered Zinkhan’s red Jeep in a remote area in the west side of Athens-Clarke County with his passport inside. Authorities initially thought Zinkhan would flee to Amsterdam, where he has another home and had a plane ticket booked for a few days after the shootings.

A Georgia Bureau of Investigations autopsy conducted Saturday confirmed the body found in the woods was Zinkhan.

Zinkhan had been a professor in UGA’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.

The shooting victims were identified as Zinkhan’s wife, Marie Bruce, 47; Ben Teague, 63; and Tom Tanner, 40. Two others were injured by bullet fragments.

Authorities initially said they had no motive for the shooting. Later, the FBI said interviews with family and friends indicated Bruce may have been considering a divorce and said the shooting likely was the result of a domestic dispute.

Zinkhan’s wife, a family law attorney, had been serving as president of Town & Gown Players.

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

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

The Associated Press contributed to this report



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