In the fortnight between the Town & Gown murders and the morning police found the body of George Zinkhan III, a turbulent storm brewed on campus.

Students walking to and from their final exams saw men carrying semi-automatic assault rifles.

One professor cancelled classes while preparing the funeral of her husband of 40 years; another professor feared for her life.

The world's attention was focused on Athens through the lens of news outlets such as The New York Times and The Associated Press.

And with them came questions: What kind of professor was he? What kind of father was he? What was motive behind his ruthless actions? Did anyone suspect such a thing could happen?

But when Zinkhan's body was finally found in a self-dug grave, his brass nameplate taken from his office door and the case was put to rest, Athens returned to its typical sleepy summer.

Following a devastating event, the process of rebuilding begins and certain measures are taken to prevent a future calamity from happening again. But too often there is also an overriding fear which lingers in a simple question.

Can it happen again?

* * *

Although many of Zinkhan's coworkers wished to remain anonymous when describing their former colleague - and in some cases, superior - similar labels kept surfacing to describe the man behind the murders: "genius," "charming" and "peculiar."

Tammy Perritt, who was a clerical assistant at Terry College while also a University student in the late 1990s, said Zinkhan had many unusual traits.

"He was kind of attractive in a mysterious way, something both charming and sexy about him, but he didn't try to be," she said. "He walked around barefoot with his shirt untucked. He'd eat popcorn out of the trash can."

But perhaps the most intriguing description to arise was "a narcissist."

Dr. Brian Hoffman, an assistant professor of psychology at the University, has done extensive research in industrial organizational psychology, especially in regard to leadership in the workplace and how narcissism affects management.

"Narcissism is recognized as having a sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy, a sense of social dominance and one of the key traits is exploitativeness," Hoffman said, "for instance, risky sexual behavior."

While no occupational environment alone could create a narcissist, Hoffman explores the territory of nature versus nurture - and says there is such thing as "an enabling workplace for a narcissist."

Hoffman and his research have no affiliation with the Zinkhan investigation, but the characteristics of a narcissist in a leadership position that he explained were uncannily parallel with Zinkhan's past - both documented and storied.

"Narcissistic leaders behave unethically, just as a general rule," Hoffman said. "It can range from any variety of problems, [examples include] not doing what you say you're going to do, cooking the books, stretching numbers, exploiting your coworkers and followers, being aggressive in the workplace, making threats or changing numbers to suit your argument."

Documents obtained by The Red & Black allege some complaints about Zinkhan along these guidelines: asking assistants to copy pornographic literature, affairs with subordinates and even the allegation of having sex in Terry College behind locked office doors.

According to court documents, it was not the first time such allegations existed.

Prior to his employment at the University, Zinkhan held a position in the marketing department at the University of Houston. In 1993, two female colleagues, Anju Seth and Julie Bristor filed a lawsuit against the University of Houston and Zinkhan. Seth's lawyers, Nelkin & Nelkin cited "complaints of inappropriate treatment at the U of H by Dr. Zinkhan," in an e-mail to the Red & Black. "The case was settled out of court without a trial. Because of a confidentially agreement that is part of the settlement, neither [Seth] nor her counsel are permitted to discuss the matter beyond the information I am providing to you in this e-mail."

The case was settled out of court in August of 1994, about the same time Zinkhan started working at UGA. The court documents were sealed to protect Zinkhan's future employment, and one file obtained by The Red & Black ordered "any and all documents, contracts, agreements and negotiations related to any offers of employment received by Defendant George Zinkhan from any university" not be revealed.

It is clear that no administrators or members of Zinkhan's hiring committee knew about the case when he was hired in 1994, however associate professor in marketing and distribution Barbara Carroll - who served on the search committee to hire Zinkhan - cited the case several times in e-mails years later to colleagues and administrators.

In an e-mail dated May 17, 2000 to George Benson, then Dean of Terry College and now president of the College of Charleston, Carroll wrote, "as everyone knows, zinkhan (sic) has a history of questionable relations with women over whom he has power. This history includes two sexual harassment cases brought by women at the university of Houston (settled out of court with the university paying huge sums of money to the two women; it was said by those in the know that Houston was trying to figure out what to do with zinkhan (sic) when uga hired him)."

Carroll declined comment when asked how she knew about the case at the University of Houston, but continued to present it to administrators even after the murders took place.

In an e-mail dated May 12, 2009 to Beth Bailey, associate director of administration in the Office of Legal Affairs, Carroll wrote, "I cannot participate in any cover-up of zinkhan's (sic) history at uga and Houston."

In response, Bailey wrote, "The University is not aware of anything that needs to be covered up with respect to Dr. Zinkhan and has not made such requests to you."

Bailey declined to comment on the matter but Tom Jackson, vice president for public affairs, said because "it never came up in a formal way," Zinkhan's past at Houston was never investigated.

"I'm not aware of [the case at the University of Houston]. It seems to me that if a formal complaint or information had been filed it would've been followed up on. It's very clear that after the discussions over the past year or two, it would definitely be followed up on. We have different rules today than we did then."

* * *

In the spring semester of 2000, Carroll asked administrators to investigate what she believed to be tampering with her student evaluations. According to documents obtained by The Red & Black, the investigation proved Zinkhan did in fact remove the fours and fives from the numerical grading scale of Carroll's student evaluations, "but no one [was] reprimanded, not even an apology from anyone," Carroll wrote in an October 2000 e-mail to her Terry colleagues. "I had expected that there would be something put in writing regarding this investigation since it was a very serious matter that took several months to resolve."

The evaluations were, however, thrown out and were not included in any overall evaluation of Carroll.

Shortly after, Zinkhan stepped down as the marketing department head, but according to OLA documents, it had nothing to do with the evaluations investigation or knowledge of the case at University of Houston.

In a memo to Benson, dated Jan. 24, 2001, Zinkhan wrote, "Originally, when I accepted the position of Department Head, I agreed to serve a six-year term. At present, I have completed seven years of service. At this point, I think it is someone else's turn to serve. Thus, I am resigning at the end of this academic year."

Over the course of Zinkhan's tenure, e-mails and memos obtained through the OLA suggest he and Carroll butted heads, each informing their superiors they felt fearful of their safety from one another. After each complaint, administrators encouraged both to follow up with the Public Safety Division or University Police Chief Jimmy Williamson. Neither professor did so.

Therefore it is troubling, after years of complaints against Zinkhan from Carroll and against Carroll from Zinkhan, investigators found printed MapQuest directions to Carroll's house - dated the day before the murders - in Zinkhan's abandoned vehicle.

"I think everybody was fearful. This was someone who had killed three people and gave indications he was interested in another person. So certainly everybody was concerned for [Carroll's] safety at that time," Jackson said.

* * *

Looking into Zinkhan's past provides a paper trail of confusing accusations, but after recent events, it also presents a series of what-ifs.

What if someone other than Carroll documented any behavior they felt threatening? Would Zinkhan have been investigated further?

What if the Houston court case document, a document easily obtained by The Red & Black, had been presented to Terry before the murders?

What if the inappropriate behavior was formally documented instead of simply the subject of gossip?

These kinds of questions are exactly what Hoffman cites should be approached head-on in preventing unethical conduct by a narcissistic leader.

"It is definitely situationally specific, and depends on the organization, but I suppose confronting people [and] workers immediately in the face of inappropriate behavior, put everything on the table, not letting things fester until they get out of control," Hoffman said. "This would include any inappropriate comments, any unethical or inappropriate activity, approaching it head on and keeping record of it."

So where does Terry go from here? And how do they, and the University, assure students an April 25 doesn't happen again?

"The University has established the two BARC [Behavioral Assessment and Response Council] committees, one for students and the one for faculty and staff, and that's our best protection, to look for signals that somebody may be having issues that may need to be dealt with," Jackson said. "If anybody has any concerns about a particular person, they should report it to those committees and let them look into it.

"I think you can expand it to any person," Jackson added. "But how do you know who is going to be the next person who is going to suddenly go off like this?"

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