ATLANTA - A former University of Georgia professor had secretly recorded a conversation with his wife about her apparent affair with an economist before he shot both of them and another man to death outside a community theater, according to police documents.
Two weeks after the April 25 shootings, cadaver dogs found the body of former marketing professor George Zinkhan, 57, in a shallow grave he dug for himself in the woods not far from his north Georgia home. He had shot himself in the head.
In a search-warrant application, Sgt. Christopher Nichols wrote that he thinks that Zinkhan "was initially gathering evidence for a divorce from Marie Bruce" and that "the murders were the result of continued contact between Marie Bruce and Thomas Tanner."
Bruce, 47, was Zinkhan's wife and Tanner, 40, was a Clemson University economist she was apparently seeing. Police have said that Zinkhan, a graduate of Swarthmore College, appeared to target Tanner. The third victim, Ben Teague, 63, was in the wrong place at the wrong time, authorities have said.
The three victims were members of a local theater group gathered the day of the shootings for a reunion at the Athens Community Theater, a short distance from the UGA campus.
The search-warrant applications and inventories from the searches of various locations - including Zinkhan's home, his office at UGA and his Jeep - were obtained Wednesday by the Athens Banner-Herald newspaper.
Police had not previously released a motive for the killings, but had said that Zinkhan and Bruce were having "marital difficulties" and had received marriage counseling. A search-warrant application indicates that Marie Bruce removed her name from the couple's joint bank account in February.
A digital voice-recorder found in Zinkhan's university office had a recording that "seemed to be a covert recording between George Zinkhan and Marie Bruce," Nichols wrote. "The substance of the recording was concerning Marie Bruce's affair with Thomas Tanner."
Documents on a desktop computer in the office also indicated that Zinkhan knew about the affair, Nichols wrote.
A document on one computer in Zinkhan's office "spoke about Zinkhan wanting to rebuild his relationship with his wife."
Authorities have said that Zinkhan left his two young children in his red Jeep Liberty during the shootings. He was last seen dropping them off at a neighbor's house soon after, saying that there was an emergency.
Authorities launched an international manhunt, fearing that he might try to flee to Amsterdam, where he taught part-time, but his Jeep was found about a week later, crashed in a ravine in a rural wooded area not far from his home, and his body nearby a week after that.