Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Killing of Jeff Zack

The Woman in the Middle

Cynthia, now 50, sat quietly during her arraignment, as her attorney, Michael Bowler, asked for reduced bail, which was denied. He told reporters that his client was "disappointed." She maintained that she had no involvement with the shooting of Jeff Zack. Prosecutors said they had new information that had allowed them to indict her.

Cynthia George
Cynthia George

They were referring to the evidence that Zaffino had planned an earlier hit on May 8 at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, possibly aborted when a park ranger had happened by. Zaffino had been at the bridge, talking on a cell phone with Cynthia for about three hours. She was also talking with Zack at the time on another line. The ranger spotted an empty gun holster and questioned Zaffino about it. He said he'd left the gun at home and was there waiting for his girlfriend. Over a week later, a mushroom hunter came across a .32-calibre pistol in the park. Because Cynthia was on the phone with Zaffino at the time, this incident was at the heart of the conspiracy charge.

George was also charged with complicity in Zack's June 16 fatal shooting. Her bank and phone records supported the notion that she had known of the incident and was involved.

At the next hearing, the bail was reduced to $2 million, and, after her husband posted 10 percent, Cynthia was released. Since she had expected the arrest and had not fled, the judge decided she was not a flight risk, as prosecutors insisted. Restrictions were placed on her limiting how far she could travel. She entered "not guilty" pleas to the charges and left the courtroom in the company of her husband and a daughter. They knew that the possibility of her going to prison until she was seventy hung in the balance.

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