Missing Ga. Mother of Four Found Dead at Bottom of Well

Message from Tonya Lynn's phone is the last communication the family received.

ByABC News
July 30, 2011, 6:22 PM

July 30, 2011 — -- A body recovered from a well in Auburn, Ga., has been identified by family members as that of missing mother of four Tonya Faye Lynn, prompting police to charge her estranged husband, James Lynn Jr., with murder, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Georgia Crime Lab is conducting an autopsy today to determine the cause of death.

Interviews with Jim Lynn and additional investigation led detectives to the well in a densely wooded area near the Gwinnett County border, said Winder police spokesman Chris Cooper, according to the newspaper.

Lynn also revealed some information about what had happened to his 38-year-old wife.

"The autopsy will hopefully substantiate certain things he divulged in our interviews," Cooper said.

Tonya Lynn left behind two clues: her locked car, and a cryptic text sent to a relative.

She had reportedly fought with her husband Tuesday night, Cooper told ABC News, and they slept in different beds.

Jim Lynn told police that when he woke up Wednesday morning he assumed his wife had already left for work at Athens Regional Medical Center. The health center's spokesman Mike Pilcher declined to comment.

Tonya Lynn's niece, Christa Royster, reported her aunt missing around noon on Wednesday. Early that morning she had received a text message from Tonya Lynn's phone.

"The message basically said, 'take care of my kids and I love you,'" Cooper told ABCNews.com.

When the niece tried to call back, Cooper said, she couldn't get through.

She called Tonya Lynn's husband, police said, who told her he didn't know where she was. On Tuesday three of the couple's four children spent the night elsewhere.

According to Tonya Lynn's father, Earl Royster, his 14-year-old grandson stayed at a neighbor's home, his other grandson, 13, stayed with an uncle, and his 11-year-old granddaughter was with her aunt. Tonya Lynn's 7-year-old was the only child at her home.

While driving Lynn's daughter to school, Christa Royster noticed Tonya Lynn's car -- a white Chevy Tahoe -- parked at a local library.

The car was locked and nothing was out of place, police said. Cooper said nothing in their investigation so far points to any suspects.

On Tonya Lynn's Facebook page, last updated in December 2010, under "activities and interests" she posted "I Love Spending Time With My Family."

Lynn's Troubled Marriage

In May, Jim Lynn was arrested by Winder police and charged with battery, Officer Cooper said. In addition, Tonya Lynn had contacted police about her husband's temporary protective order violations.

Her father Earl Royster, 72, who lives in Auburn, Ga., told ABCNews.com the couple had filed for divorce in June. Tonya Lynn stayed with her sister-in-law, but eventually took her husband back, he said.

Royster described Jim Lynn as controlling, "crazy about money" and suspicious of his daughter's whereabouts.

Monday was the last time Royster spoke to his daughter, but he says his 14-year-old grandson had seen her in the house at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday when he returned home to get some clothes before spending the night at a friend's house.

In May, when Tonya Lynn told her husband she was leaving him, Royster said, Jim Lynn allegedly threw their mattress on the floor while she was sitting on it, and tossed her clothes outside.

Jim Lynn wasn't available for comment.