George Martin Zinkhan, III
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.
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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
There’s no evidence to show that there was a lot of preplanning,
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
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
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 - People.com
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
"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."
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
"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."
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."