Fugitive Prof's Body Found Half-Buried

Search dogs uncovered body near George Zinkhan's abandoned car.

May 9, 2009— -- A Georgia professor accused of a triple murder appears to have half-buried himself in dirt and leaves before shooting himself, police said today after cadaver dogs found George Zinkhan's body concealed in a thickly wooded area.

"I've only seen it once in my 39 years where a person purposely tried to conceal the body after what in that case was a suicide," Clarke County, Ga., police Chief Joseph Lumpkin said today.

After testing, the body found today in Bogart, Ga., was positively identified as Zinkhan, the University of Georgia marketing professor accused of killing three people April 25.

Zinkhan allegedly opened fire on an Athens, Ga., theater group that included his wife, Marie Bruce.

Zinkhan, 57, was last seen driving his red 2005 Jeep Liberty, which was located about a week after the shootings. The body was found concealed by dirt and brush in the woods about 1.3 miles away from the car.

Police also found two guns near the body that they said were consistent with the guns used in the shootings that occured near the University of Georgia campus in Athens.

Until an autopsy is completed, police will not know the exact cause of death, but investigators said today they believe Zinkhan killed himself.

"There's no indication of anyone else involved with the death of this body," Georgia Bureau of Investigation Agent Jim Fullington said.

'Kind of a Nice Guy'

Police say Zinkhan drove to a reunion picnic for volunteers of the Town & Gown Players outside the Athens Community Theatre April 25, with his two children in tow. His son and daughter, ages 8 and 10, were left in the car while he allegedly stormed the gathering with two handguns and started shooting.

When he left, his estranged wife, Bruce, 47, and two longtime theater members, Thomas Tanner, 40, and Bob Teague, 63, were dead, each shot multiple times. Zinkhan then reportedly dropped off his children with a neighbor and disappeared.

When Zinkhan vanished, he left behind a stunned and fearful community.

Federal authorities had said at the end of April that Zinkhan had a ticket for a May 2 flight to the Netherlands, but authorities were unable find his passport during searches of his home and his office. Police said he had a house in Amsterdam, where he taught part time.

University of Georgia spokesman Pete Konenkamp said Zinkhan was thought to have been a fair professor who was well-liked, if not a bit distant.

"I've seen a mixed atmosphere," he said of the reaction on campus to the shootings. "Many are going on with their day as normal. And then there are those who are a bit unnerved by this."

UGA junior Josh Gurley, who was in Zinkhan's undergraduate marketing class this semester, said he was stunned to get a text message from the school that his professor was believed to be responsible for the shootings.

"He was kind of a nice guy," Gurley told ABCNews.com in April. "But he was kind of off, kind of weird. He wasn't very personable."

But the students never expected anything like what police are alleging, he said. After the killings, the face of the man he sat in front of every Tuesday and Thursday at 8 a.m. was plastered all over the news and police were all over campus.

"It's just kind of surreal," he said.

'He's Always Been Strange'

Neighbor Dana Adams said she saw Zinkhan sitting in his car before he left for the picnic on April 25. She said he got in his car, sat for a bit and then left.

Adams said the couple's children would come play with hers, and while Bruce was always talkative and friendly, she said Zinkhan was eccentric and not very friendly.

"He's always been strange," she said. "They were very different."