Lynn Turner's death still leaves questions, scars

Lynn Turner’s victims died mysteriously, without warning or ready cause.

On Monday,  the same thing happened to the two-time convicted killer.

Turner, 42, was found unresponsive in her cell at Metro State Prison just before 7 a.m. and declared dead 40 minutes later. An autopsy later in the day couldn't determine what killed her, though foul play was ruled out. Brought to a sudden and curious end was this multi-faceted crime story that riveted metro Atlanta for much of a decade and drew national headlines, one centered a woman characterized as this cold and calculating person who had got away with murder once, but not twice.

The former 911 operator was serving life sentences for the fatal antifreeze poisonings of Glenn Turner, her husband,  in 1995 and Randy Thompson, her boyfriend and the father of her two children, in 2001. She was spared the death penalty, but didn't live more than three years beyond her second conviction.

“I think she just didn't have anything to live for," Kathy Turner, the woman's mother-in-law, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It comes around, doesn’t it?"

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Juries had determined that Turner, described by those who knew her as attractive and personable, had killed a Cobb County police officer and a Forsyth County firefighter for nothing more than money, for their life insurance policies and pensions totaling $200,000, miscalculating she would receive double that.

While the Georgia Bureau of Investigation couldn't provide an immediate cause of death, and will need toxicology tests to determine an eventual one, relatives of the two deceased men suggested Turner's death likely was self-inflicted. Authorities could not confirm this is what happened.

"If she committed suicide, all she’s doing is telling the world that she’s guilty," said Nita Thompson, the mother of Turner's second victim.

Although the Glenn Turner and Randy Thompson never met, lived in different counties and died six years apart, their deaths were identical. Both men came down with flu symptoms. They went to hospitals for fluids and treatment. They received medicine that provided temporary relief and then they became violently ill. Medical examiners ruled irregular heartbeats had killed each man. Police investigations found out otherwise, looking closer at now two suspicious deaths and discovering both had ingested antifreeze, likely slipped to them in sweet tea or soup or something else.

Convictions three years apart came next for Turner, the last one in 2007. Again, money was the motivation.

Witnesses from Turner's first trial testified that she had collected more than $140,000 in insurance benefits and $700 per month from her husband's police pension after he died.

In the second trial, evidence was presented that Turner had received $36,000 from an insurance payout and had hoped to cash in on another policy worth $200,000 that named her as the beneficiary, but it had lapsed. When arrested, Turner was still in financial straits, which prosecutors said conceivably could have led to yet another murder.

"I don't think it's unreasonable to think there might have been a third victim," said Penny Penn, Forsyth County district attorney. "With anything, the more you do it, the easier it gets. You get emboldened. By locking her up, you could argue other people were protected."

Turner, who lost an appeal to overturn her first conviction, was still appealing the second.

"We had an open case," Penn said. "In that regard, we can close it."

Turner's death brought closure for some, not for others.

Kathy Turner didn't want to hear that Lynn Turner still trying to defend herself, and got her wish.

"I’m glad I will never have to see her in court again," the former mother-in-law said.

"There’s never really any closure," said Brandie McNeal, Thompson's sister. "My brother’s gone."

Turner’s last team of trial lawyers, Jimmy Berry and Vic Reynolds, hadn’t spoken with their former client for nearly a year and a half. They learned of the woman’s death after receiving a morning phone call from one of her family members.

“It just seems to be a tragic ending to a tragedy,” Reynolds said. “There were a lot of good folks affected by it. The Turner family and Thompson family were all good folks, and Lynn’s family was a decent, salt-of-the-earth type of family.”

Attorney Don Samuel, who represented Turner in an unsuccessful appeal of her first conviction, described her as a bright and pleasant person, as someone who was firmly dedicated to her defense and maintained her innocence. He read about her death on AJC.com.

“I was very sad to see it,” Samuel said. “It was the most unusual case.”

The Turner murder trials, in fact, were so different they’ve drawn plenty of attention from the myriad cable TV channels that offer crime shows. Penn, the Forsyth County lead prosecutor, has done interviews for Investigation Discovery’s “Forensic Files,” Oxygen’s “Snapped” and most recently Discovery’s “Deadly Women.” She was told the latter show wouldn’t be broadcast until early next year.

“They’ll have to edit it now, won’t they?” Penn said.

Staff writer Christian Boone contributed to this article.

Lynn Turner Timeline

Aug. 21, 1993: Cobb County police Officer Maurice Glenn Turner marries Julia Lynn Womack.

March 3, 1995: Glenn Turner, 31, is discovered dead in bed by his wife. A Cobb medical examiner rules he died from an irregular heartbeat.

Jan. 30, 1996: Lynn Turner gives birth to a daughter. She has lived with the father, firefighter Randy Thompson, since four days after her husband's death.

Jan. 22, 2001: Randy Thompson, 32, is found dead in his Cumming apartment. A GBI medical examiner later rules he died from an irregular heartbeat.

June 22, 2001: Cobb police begin investigating Glenn Turner's death as a possible homicide. Cumming police begin a probe into Thompson's death and call in the GBI for assistance.

July 30, 2001: The GBI announces it has changed Thompson's cause of death to antifreeze poisoning. It is later ruled a homicide. Cobb officials exhume Turner's body to test for poisons.

Oct. 17, 2001: The Cobb medical examiner announces a second autopsy shows Turner died of ethylene glycol poisoning.

June 27, 2002: Cobb medical examiner Dr. Brian Frist rules Glenn Turner's death a homicide.

Nov. 1, 2002: Lynn Turner is arrested and charged with the murder of Glenn Turner.

Feb. 2, 2004: Jury selection begins in Marietta in Lynn Turner's first trial.

Feb. 4, 2004: Unable to seat an impartial jury in Marietta, a judge orders Turner's trial moved. The case is moved to Houston County.

May 14, 2004: A Houston County jury returns a guilty verdict against Turner in the murder of Glenn Turner.

Jan. 8, 2007: Jury selection begins in Forsyth County in Turner's second murder trial.

Jan. 16, 2007: Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley orders the trial moved out of Forsyth County because of difficulty seating an impartial jury. The trial is ordered moved to Dalton, in northwest Georgia's Whitfield County, but the location is kept a secret until Feb. 14, when the AJC publishes its location.

March 24, 2007: A jury in Whitfield County finds Turner guilty of murdering Randy Thompson.

March 27, 2007: Jurors give Turner life in prison with no chance of parole.

Aug. 30, 2010: Turner is found unresponsive in her cell at Metro State Prison in Atlanta at 6:55 a.m. Prison medical staff are unable to revive her and she is pronounced dead 40 minutes later.

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