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George Martin ZINKHAN III





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Jealousy
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: April 25, 2009
Date of birth: February 17, 1952
Victims profile: His wife Marie Bruce, 47, and her friends Ben Teague, 63, and Tom Tanner, 40
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, USA
Status: Committed suicide firing a single shot into his head on May 2009
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George Martin Zinkhan, III (February 17, 1952 – c. May 9, 2009) was an American academic and poet. Zinkhan was a professor of marketing at the University of Georgia from 1994 until April 26, 2009. He was named as the prime suspect in a triple homicide before authorities announced on May 9, 2009 that they had found and identified Zinkhan's body.


In 1974, Zinkhan received his Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Swarthmore College. This was followed by a Masters in Business Administration with high distinction from the University of Michigan in 1979. Zinkhan also received his doctorate in Business Administration from the University of Michigan in 1981.

Zinkhan was the Conn Professor of Marketing for thirteen years at the University of Houston beginning in 1981. For one year he also was an associate professor for the University of Pittsburgh in 1987. He began as a professor at the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business in 1994, and served as Department head for Terry's Department of Marketing and Distribution from 1994 until 2001. He held an endowed chair as the department's Coca-Cola Company Professor from 1994 to 2009. According to a university spokesman, he had an impeccable track record as a teacher and was a respected professor on campus.


Zinkhan received an award for Outstanding Contribution to Research in 2004 which was presented by the American Academy of Advertising. He also received the Terry Outstanding Faculty Award 2006 and 2009 presented by the economics faculty of the Vrije Universiteit.


Zinkhan published over 100 articles in peer-reviewed academic journals, as well as numerous chapters in edited books. He was the editor of the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science from 2003 to 2009, and of the Journal of Advertising from 1991 to 1995, as well as the book review editor of the Journal of Marketing from 1991 to 1995.

In addition, he edited or co-edited several books:

  • Arnould, Eric; Linda Price, George Zinkhan (2004). Consumers. McGraw Hill / Irwin. ISBN 0-07-253714-0. 
  • Watson, Richard; Pierre Berthon, Leyland F. Pitt, George Zinkhan (2000). Electronic Commerce: The Strategic Perspective. Thompson / Dryden. pp. 162. ISBN 0-03-026533-9. 
  • Zinkhan, George M. (2000). Advertising research: the Internet, consumer behavior, and strategy. Chicago, Ill: American Marketing Association. ISBN 0-87757-288-7. 

Zinkhan's curriculum vitae listed 22 works under a section called, "Research Activities: Poetry. Zinkhan's poems—many of which the American Marketing Association published on its website—cover topics ranging from university politics to the Appalachian Trail.

Personal life

Zinkhan had two children, a son and a daughter, with his wife, attorney Marie Bruce. Zinkhan also had three children from a previous marriage. The family lived in the town of Bogart in the U.S. state of Georgia. Zinkhan owned a second home in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, where he was a marketing professor at the Vrije Universiteit.

Murder charges

Zinkhan was named the prime suspect in the April 25, 2009, shooting deaths of his wife and two other people, Tom Tanner and Ben Teague, outside the Athens Community Theatre in Athens-Clarke County in northeast Georgia.

The murders occurred during a picnic reunion of the Town & Gown Players, and all three of those killed were active in local theater productions. Two bystanders were injured by bullet fragments. According to neighbors and colleagues, there had been no advance signs of trouble.

Police said Zinkhan and his wife, Marie Bruce, were having “marital difficulties,” that Tom Tanner appeared to be his “specific target” in the shootings and that Ben Teague was “at the wrong place at the wrong time.” Tanner was shot first, police said.

On the same day, "Zinkhan was charged with three counts of murder and a state arrest warrant was issued in Clarke County, Georgia. A federal arrest warrant was issued on April 26, 2009, after he was charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution".


Zinkhan's red Jeep Liberty was found on the night of April 30, 2009, in northwest Clarke County, Georgia. Cadaver dogs located Zinkhan's body on May 9, 2009, approximately one mile from the Jeep.

Investigators said that Zinkhan used a shovel to dig a 15- to 18-inch deep grave in the woods behind an elementary school, lay down in it, took an old wooden pallet he had covered with dirt and debris and pulled it over top of the hole. He then fired a single shot from a .38-caliber handgun into his head.

Zinkhan's body was claimed by a son from a previous marriage one day before it was scheduled for burial in a pauper's grave by the Athens-Clarke County coroner's office.


Athens killer lay in grave under pallet, shot himself

In community theater shooting, GBI says Zinkhan killed Tom Tanner first

By Chip Towers - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

In the last moments of his life, triple murder suspect George Zinkhan III used a shovel to dig a 15- to 18-inch deep grave in the woods behind Cleveland Road Elementary School.

He lay down in it, took an old wooden pallet he’d covered with dirt and debris and pulled it over top of the hole. He then fired a single shot from a .38-caliber handgun into his head.

That scenario was detailed by Athens-Clarke County Police Tuesday at a concluding press conference on the case of the former UGA professor.

“I think we were very fortunate, given the circumstances and the steps he took to conceal himself, to have some kind of resolution at this time,” said police Maj. Mark Sizemore, flanked by leaders from the FBI and GBI, at the police department’s Western Precinct at Georgia Square Mall.

“Clearly, looking at that particular scene, it could have been a long time. Really it was only through the vigilance of the groups that worked on the case, focused here and outside our county.”

Police also said that evidence indicates Zinkhan and his wife, Marie Bruce, were having “marital difficulties,” that Tom Tanner appeared to be his “specific target” in the shootings and that Ben Teague was “at the wrong place at the wrong time.” Tanner was shot first, police said.

At least a dozen witnesses saw Zinkhan, a 57-year-old marketing professor at UGA, gun down his 47-year-old wife, Tanner, 40, and Teague, 63, in broad daylight. They were among at least two dozen people attending a reunion picnic of the Town and Gown Players theater troupe at the Athens Community Theater just outside downtown Athens.

Immediately after the shooting, Zinkhan fled in his red Jeep Liberty with the couple’s two children inside. After dropping off his 10-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son at the home of next-door neighbor Bob Covington in the Huntington subdivision off Cleveland Road in Bogart, Zinkhan drove off, never to be seen again.

Exactly when Zinkhan killed himself remains a mystery. Police said an autopsy revealed he’d been dead five to 14 days when his body was discovered by cadaver dogs this past Saturday. But they also said there were no indications he’d attempted to live in the woods of northwestern Clarke County for any period of time.

“We have a range of when he died,” said Jim Fullington, GBI special agent in charge in Athens. “It’s not an exact science like it appears to be on TV [shows]. But the autopsy determined that he had been dead for at least five days and up to 14 days, which is the last day he was seen alive.”

Pressed on the subject, Maj. Mark Sizemore said: “We didn’t find anything to indicate he tried to live or survive out there for any period of time. In searching the woods, there was no evidence of food or water or anything like that. As a matter of fact there was a bottle of water still in the Jeep. There’s no reason to believe he stayed alive out there over a period of time.”

No suicide note has been discovered, police said.

Inside the makeshift grave with Zinkhan was a shovel and a gray Puma sports bag containing clothes, ammunition, the .38-caliber handgun and a .22-caliber handgun, one of the two firearms used in the murders, according to police.

Indications are that Zinkhan never intended to flee beyond the woods. His cell phone, laptop, passport, wallet, identification and cash were found hidden inside his vehicle.

“I can only speculate that it is likely that he didn’t want to be found and he didn’t want the Jeep to be found,” Sizemore said. “Clearly he didn’t want to be located.”

Police confirmed they found a map to the home of Barbara Carroll, a UGA marketing colleague with whom Zinkhan had work-related problems, inside Zinkhan’s abandoned vehicle. Police said it was printed the day before the murders.

“She was advised of the situation and given the opportunity to make a decision that was appropriate for her to protect her safety,” Sizemore said.

There’s no evidence to show that there was a lot of preplanning, Fullington said.


Zinkhan’s body found in grave he dug

Police searched two days near elementary school

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Fugitive murder suspect George Martin Zinkhan III dug his own grave and covered himself with debris before firing a single bullet into his head, investigators said Saturday.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigations’ state crime lab confirmed early Saturday evening that the body discovered earlier that day in the woods outside Athens was Zinkhan.

“A person not accustomed to the woods would not have found it,” Athens-Clarke County Police Chief Jack Lumpkin said. “The body was beneath the earth… The body was purposely concealed in a manner not to be discovered .”

Searchers found two handguns in the grave.

Zinkhan’s well-hidden body was discovered Saturday by cadaver dogs -an Australian shepherd and a German Shepherd- at 9:50 a.m. Saturday. The civilian Alpha Search and Rescue Team was working woods beyond the initial search area.

Zinkhan’s temporary grave was in thick woods about 1,000 yards from an elementary school and about a mile from where his red Jeep Liberty was recovered more than a week ago. Zinkhan’s home in Bogart in Clarke County is not far away.

The playground at Cleveland Road Elementary School was cordoned off since the grave was only about 1,000 yards away. On Saturday afternoon, a short distance away, toddlers and their parents were attending a birthday party at the school’s gym.

Aaron Clanton, a teacher at the school, arrived around 10:40 a.m. for his son’s party that was supposed to take place at the school playground. Clanton said police were already on the scene.

Jim Fullington, special agent in charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigations’ Athens office, said the body was clothed much like the way Zinkhan was described the last time he was seen.

The police chief said this was the second time in his 35 years in law enforcement that he had encountered a suicide victim who buried themselves first.

The body has tentatively been identified as Zinkhan’s. The medical examiner at the State Crime Lab, a unit of the GBI, will use dental records to make the final identification later Saturday.

University President Michael F. Adams, in a statement to the UGA community, thanked law enforcement agencies that worked on the investigation and again offered condolences to the families and friends of the victims of the shooting.

“Our hearts go out to each of them as they try to bring closure to and cope with the pain and sorrow these losses of life have caused them,” Adams said. “May they ultimately find healing and peace.”

Zinkhan, 57, was the subject of a nationwide manhunt since April 25 when three people were shot dead at Athens Community Theatre near the university campus, Zinkhan’s estranged wife, Marie Bruce, and Ben Teague and Tom Tanner.

All three were members of the Town & Gown Players. They were attending a luncheon with a few dozen current and former members that afternoon.

Witnesses said an argument ensued between Bruce and Zinkhan, who left the party. He returned with two handguns and started shooting, hitting Bruce, Tanner and Teague multiple times.

Zinkhan, a respected professor of marketing at UGA’s Terry School of Business, then went back to his car, and drove his waiting children -daughter, 10, and son, 8- to a neighbor’s house. Zinkhan asked the neighbor to watch the kids because there was an emergency.

Police believed they caught a break April 30 when they found the Jeep Liberty. But a search by dozens of heavily armed law enforcement officers over more than 1,100 acres of Clarke and Jackson counties failed to locate Zinkhan.

Law enforcement authorities intensified their search for leads in recent days, distributing a GBI sketch of Zinkhan clean shaven and without a beard. The Athens-Clarke County Police Department offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.


Manhunt for Professor Tied to Three Murders

By Oliver Jones -

Friday May 01, 2009

When Bob Covington's neighbor, the taciturn and physically imposing university professor George Zinkhan, stopped by Saturday, April 25, a little after noon, he was in need of an important favor. "He asked me if I could keep his kids for about an hour and said there was some type of emergency," Covington told CNN.

Zinkhan raced off before Covington could find out what the emergency was, so he asked Zinkhan's 8-year-old daughter. As Covington told the AP, "All she would relate to me was there was something about a firecracker."

Soon, authorities would disclose what they allege is the truth behind Zinkhan's "emergency," shocking the picturesque college town of Athens, Ga., and those who knew Zinkhan. Authorities said that before going to Covington's house, Zinkhan, armed with two handguns, murdered his wife and two others, then fled, triggering an international manhunt. On Friday, authorities found his damaged Jeep – but there's still no sign of the quiet, nationally renowned University of Georgia marketing professor.

"Like most of my colleagues, I am absolutely flabbergasted by this," University of Wyoming professor Eric Arnould, who wrote several textbooks with Zinkhan, tells PEOPLE. "Two pistols and the Wild West thing? Extremely bizarre. There was no inkling whatsoever that he was capable of this kind of violence. If you want to paint him like that, go ahead, but it would be totally inaccurate."

Theater Shooting

Police say it all began at around 11:30 a.m. last Saturday, when Zinkhan, 57, had a heated argument with his wife Marie Bruce, 47, a prominent Athens divorce attorney, at a reunion picnic she was having with the Town and Gown Players, a community theater group for which Bruce was board president and sometimes actor.

Zinkhan went back to his red Jeep Liberty where his two children were waiting, then allegedly returned to the theater where he shot and killed Bruce and two of her friends and fellow members of the troupe, Ben Teague, 63, and Tom Tanner, 40, with a pair of handguns.

The shocking act of violence alleged to have been committed by the endowed professor sometimes described as aloof and gruff by his students (curiously, he cancelled classes the week before the shooting), has the community grasping for answers.

Possible Love Triangle

CBS News has reported there may have been a love triangle, and that Bruce was having an affair with Tanner, a set designer for the company who was starring as Watson in that weekend's production of Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure. Several media outlets have reported that Teague, a father figure for the group whose long grey beard made him perfect for Prospero in their production of The Tempest two years ago, may have been killed trying to help.

"I have no idea why he did it," Athens-Clarke County Police Capt. Clarence Holeman tells PEOPLE. "People got their own theories but I would rather not speculate on what it is that started this. To be honest, I am old school: It doesn't matter what the target was or why. Three people are dead."

International Manhunt

Much more pressing to law enforcement is where Zinkhan is now. Following a signal from his cell phone, authorities Friday morning found his wrecked Jeep in a ravine 10 miles outside of Athens and are currently searching a 200 acre area around the ravine.

Zinkhan is an avid hiker who wrote poetry about his frequent treks on the Appalachian trail. Before the shootings, he bought a plane ticket for Amsterdam, where he has taught in the summers and reportedly owns a house. PEOPLE has learned that Zinkhan has an ex-wife and three children in Texas, and police have also been looking there.

"He could be anywhere," says Capt. Holeman. "We are working non-stop on this. We haven't gotten much sleep."



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