Tonya Lynn Murder: Police Examine Husband's First Wife's Suicide

James Lynn's first wife died by suicide, his third from blunt force trauma.

August 2, 2011, 11:34 AM

Aug. 2, 2011— -- Police are now examining the deaths of two of James Lynn Jr.'s wives: his first wife, who reportedly committed suicide in 1990, and his third wife, whose body was found at the bottom of a well last week.

The Georgia father of four was charged with murder Friday after police found 38-year-old Tonya Faye Lynn in a well in Western Barrow County, several miles from the home she shared with James Lynn in Winder, Ga. He is currently being held at Barrow County jail.

Medical examiners recently determined Tonya Lynn died of blunt force trauma to the head.

James Lynn led investigators to his wife's body Friday afternoon, after police showed him a freeze frame from a surveillance video. In the video, James Lynn can be seen parking his wife's car at a local library and then hopping in a female friend's car, Winder Detective Rachel Love told

"His demeanor never changed at all -- from the first time we made contact with him to the very end," she said.

She described James Lynn as being very cooperative throughout the investigation. At one point, Love said, he allowed police to view his cell phone but she soon discovered the data was "completely wiped out, he admitted to deleting everything."

Since then, "Questions have been raised by some of the family members … advising that he had a previous wife that died," Jim Fullington, special agent for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, told "We are aware that he had a previous wife ... that died as a result of a gunshot wound [to her head] at her residence."

Police are currently doing a preliminary review of the facts surrounding that case to determine if it should be reopened.

According to marriage records obtained by, James Lynn has been married three times: he married his first wife, Julie Johnson, in 1989 and then married Tamra Shaw in 1991, the year after his first wife apparently committed suicide.

According to the Associated Press, Lynn's first wife was pregnant when she was found dead in the bedroom of their home.

James Lynn married his third wife, Tonya, four years after Shaw in 1995. Shaw, whose last name is now Hadden, is still alive.

James Lynn Arrested for Murder of His Wife Tonya Lynn

James Lynn had originally been charged with obstruction Friday "for false information he gave during the investigation," Fullington said.

He told police last week that when he woke up Wednesday morning he assumed his wife had already left for work at Athens Regional Medical Center.

Tonya Lynn's niece, Christa Royster, reported her aunt missing around noon on Wednesday after receiving a text message from Tonya Lynn's phone and finding her car parked at a local public library.

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

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

Tonya Lynn's funeral was held today at the Smith Memorial Chapel in Winder.

Most of Tonya Lynn's co-workers attended, said Elaine Cook, director of communications at Athens Regional Medical Center.

Tomorrow morning the hospital will hold a ceremony for staff members who couldn't go to today's funeral. They will tie a purple ribbon around the large dogwood tree in front of the medical center, Cook said, to raise awareness about domestic violence.

Cook described Tonya Lynn as "a very joyful person." She had worked for the Athens Regional Medical Center for about a year as a technician in the cardiac pulmonary vascular diagnostic unit. "She loved her job, she was always smiling, she had an infectious laugh. She adored her children, she was always telling stories about them."

The need to raise awareness about domestic violence, Cook said, "will be weighing heavily on our hearts."

Lynn's Troubled Marriage

Tonya Lynn had reportedly fought with her husband the night before she disappeared, Winder police spokesman Chris Cooper told

In May, James 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 last week 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 James Lynn as controlling, "crazy about money" and suspicious of his daughter's whereabouts.

Last 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.

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

James Lynn's attorney could not immediately be reached for comment. His case will be brought before a grand jury in late October -- and if they deliver an indictment the case will go to trial.

The couple's four children have been placed with a family member, Love said.

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