BARTOW COUNTY, Ga. - The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has reopened an investigation into the death of a 20-year-old pregnant bride shot in the face.
Since her death in 1990, her family always suspected her husband. Now, that he is in prison for murdering another wife, the GBI is taking a second look.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer looked through the evidence, spoke with a homicide expert, and traveled to Metter, Ga. to talk with the family of Julie Johnson Lynn. After more than 20 years, the shooting still stings in the quiet southeast Georgia town.
"I want the truth for my daughter's sake. She deserves better than she got," said Lynn’s mother, Bobbi Mosley.
On Lynn's last day alive, she'd spent the day painting her house, doing laundry, and reading a baby book. The young newlywed was five months pregnant and planning for the future with her high school sweetheart, Jim.
"I never ever once thought anything other than, ‘He killed her.’ Ever," said close friend Kim Arrington Ridley.
Lynn, right handed, was found with her right arm tucked under her body, with a gun on the floor below her left hand. Authorities found no gunshot residue on her hands. She was also found nearly nude, and shot in the forehead, an unusual method for a woman committing suicide.
"In my 32 years with the GBI and looking at hundreds of death investigations, I’ve never seen one," said retired GBI homicide expert Ralph Stone. "That is very, very, very, very rare."
Fleischer asked Stone to review the entire case file. The GBI investigator was one of Stone's former colleagues, Byron Stewart.
"They just didn't do a complete investigation. I'm embarrassed, to be quite honest with you. In 1990, we weren't dinosaurs," said Stone.
Crime scene photos show Lynn's hand fell neatly into a narrow space between the bed and the wall, but the report had no measurements.
Stone said, “You can't put the body back in the same place that it was found."
Jim Lynn told investigators they'd had a fight. His wife asked for a divorce, and he said he had accepted her request.
He said afterward, he left their house at 11:45 p.m., picked up beer, then drove to a friend's house. That friend wasn't interviewed until two months later, and said Jim arrived at 12:45 a.m., and then they got the beer.
Investigators never re-interviewed Jim Lynn, didn't check the convenience store where the beer was said to be bought or look for a receipt.
The next morning, Jim Lynn went to see his wife's sister-in-law before heading back home. She said Jim left to go home, but it didn't seem more than 10 minutes before he returned, yelling that Julie had killed herself. She said that drive would usually take about half an hour.
"There’s a tremendous amount of circumstances here that the No. 1 person that should have been suspected in this was the husband," said former GBI agent Stone.
The coroner ruled Julie Lynn’s death a suicide just two days after her body was found.
"I told them over 22 years ago, he will strike again, and he did," Mosley said.
In 2011, Jim Lynn was married to another woman, and she also turned up dead.
Tonya Lynn was Jim's third wife. This time, there were years of police reports that documented abuse. In a handwritten note in court, she wrote, "He also told me if I wanted to kill myself, he would show me how to use the gun."
In a police report, she told officers she knew her husband had been questioned about Lynn's death decades earlier.
When Jim Lynn was convicted of murdering his third wife, Julie Lynn’s mother and friend were in the courtroom to watch. The friend, Kim Arrington Ridley, said she always thought Jim Lynn murdered his first wife.
“I carry the guilt that had I fought harder, maybe Tonya would be alive. But I didn't. I was young. I didn't know the same things that I know now,” Ridley said.
Fleischer asked GBI spokesman John Bankhead if GBI agents thought Jim Lynn got away with murdering his first wife.
"We don't know. They went in thinking that after the third wife's death, but proving it is a different story," Bankhead said.
New GBI agents have been interviewing every witness they can find and looking for evidence the original investigator missed.
"There’s no reason for us to think he didn't do what he could at the time to have a thorough investigation," said Bankhead.
But GBI agents attempting to interview Jim Lynn in prison now call him "a witness in a homicide investigation,” though they refuse to declare that officially.
"There is suspicion, but you have to have evidence, concrete evidence," said Bankhead.
He said in 1990, Jim Lynn passed a polygraph test. Because his first wife’s death was ruled a suicide, the physical evidence was destroyed. The case file has limited photos.
"If an agent did a poor job, he did a poor job," said Ralph Stone, a former GBI agent and a homicide expert.
Stone said there were many red flags, including the fact that Julie Lynn fought with her husband because he wanted to abort their baby, and she didn't.
"I will fight 'til the day I die for my daughter, for the truth," said Bobbi Mosley. "Julie didn't deserve that stigma against her name. She died protecting her baby."