Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Killing of Jeff Zack

Unfaithful Husband

Investigators learned that Jeff Zack had a few enemies, according to reporters. He was a difficult man with a sharp temper, who often fought with neighbors over trifling things. He'd also had a few business dealings that could have inspired someone to shoot him, and he'd hit on several married women and had been unfaithful to his wife. In short, there were several suspects for this crime, but little evidence linking any of them to the shooting.

Jeff Zack with wife Bonnie (face obscured)
Jeff Zack with wife Bonnie (face obscured)

Abandoned as a child by his biological father, Zack had taken the name of his stepfather. He was educated, multi-lingual, and successful as a stock broker. Tall and handsome, he had a reputation as a womanizer, as well as for defying the law. In 1981, he'd been convicted in connection with an illegal escort agency in Arizona, and in 1996, he had grabbed an adolescent girl in a hardware store and kissed her. At the time, he'd been married for ten years to his wife, Bonnie Cook. When his firm in Arizona had been caught mishandling money in 1991, he had moved to Akron to start over. It wasn't long before he spotted Cynthia George at the Tangier bar. He was instantly obsessed.

In her late thirties at this time, Cynthia was a small-town girl and aspiring beauty queen. Blonde and slender, she was also quite flirtatious and married to Ed George, fifteen years her senior. Nevertheless, she still caught the eye of other men. By some accounts, she freely hit on them.

In front of Bonnie, Zack acted openly enthralled, and she could see trouble ahead. It wasn't long before he was embroiled with Cynthia in an adulterous affair. Even so, the Zacks and Georges became friends. Zack often came over to the George home on weekends to take Cynthia on bike rides or for walks. He also called her so frequently on the phone it was difficult to believe he didn't realize how obvious he was being. Perhaps he did not care.

Yet Bonnie would later say she did not actually know they were having an affair until years later, in 1998, when she overheard one of Zack's conversations. She confronted him, and he apologized and promised to change. He said he would stop the affair but not his friendship with Cynthia. Nonetheless, he remained obsessed, and it showed. Cynthia, too, made frequent calls to him. Apparently, despite her palatial home and wealthy lifestyle, she was bored. The nanny, Mary Ann Brewer, said that Cynthia was away from home much of the time, while Ed was the one who took an active role with the children. She described Cynthia as self-absorbed. The idle rich can prove easily bored, and even illicit affairs can grow stale.

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