News that a woman convicted of killing two men, including a Forsyth County firefighter, had died in prison caught those involved in the saga by surprise this week.
“That came from out of left field, but most surprising news does," said Forsyth County District Attorney Penny Penn, who prosecuted the 2007 Lynn Turner case. "I think that it’s certainly the final chapter in a very sad and fascinating story.”
Turner, 42, was found dead at 6:55 a.m. Monday in her cell at Metro State Prison, a Georgia Department of Corrections spokeswoman said.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokesman John Bankhead said the cause of death is pending a toxicology report, but that an autopsy found nothing to indicate foul play.
Turner was convicted in 2007 for the 2001 poisoning death of her boyfriend, firefighter Randy Thompson, and sentenced to life without parole.
Thompson was also the father of Turner’s two children.
At the time of her conviction, she was already serving a life sentence for using antifreeze to kill her husband, Glen Turner, a former Cobb County police officer, in 1995.
Brandie McNeal, Thompson’s sister, said Tuesday that her family learned of Turner’s death from victim advocates in Cobb and Forsyth counties.
She said they are very concerned about her niece and nephew, who are in the custody of Turner’s mother. She said they haven’t had contact with the children since Turner’s trial.
“I sent a letter to Helen [Gregory] shortly after the trial, expressing how we’d love to be a part of their lives and she never responded,” McNeal said.
She said the news of Turner’s death stirred a wave of emotions.
“I couldn’t catch my breath,” McNeal said. “Immediately, I was overwhelmed with thoughts of my brother and missing him and just sadness, a lot of sadness for the children and how different things could’ve been.”
McNeal said Turner’s death failed to bring a sense of closure to her family.
“We think about him every day and miss him every day, so it didn’t change anything for us as far as that goes,” McNeal said.
Penn said Turner had begun to appeal her conviction in Thompson's death, but her motion for a new trial had not been heard by a judge.
“Certainly, we will close out the case,” Penn said.
Both Thompson and Glenn Turner showed “flu-like symptoms” before they died.
Although their deaths were initially attributed to natural causes, surviving family members alerted authorities to similarities between the two.
As a result, Turner’s body was exhumed and Thompson’s blood was re-tested.
Ethylene glycol, a sweet, odorless chemical used in antifreeze, was found in samples taken from each man’s body.
Investigators thought in both cases Turner could have laced Jell-o, sweet tea or soup with the deadly chemical.
Evidence presented during the 2007 trial showed that Turner, a former Forsyth County 911 dispatcher and courthouse secretary, slowly poisoned both men six years apart for insurance money.
A friend of Thompson’s testified in the 2007 trial that Thompson told him a day before his death he’d eaten a grilled cheese sandwich and some tea Lynn Turner had given him for lunch.
Thompson had been ill the day before, but said he was feeling better.
Hours later, the friend called to check on Thompson, discovering that he was “breathing hard, throwing up again and said he was dizzy.”
Firefighters broke down Thompson’s door the next day when he failed to answer phone calls and knocks at the door. He was found dead on his couch.
Prosecutors sought the death penalty in that case and the trial had to be moved from Forsyth to Whitfield County in northwest Georgia because of pretrial publicity.
Lynn Turner’s 2004 jury trial for the death of Glenn Turner had to be moved from Cobb to Houston County in middle Georgia for similar reasons.
In that case, Glenn Turner’s supervisor testified that his subordinate had missed work because he was sick during the three days before his death.
A childhood friend of Lynn Turner’s, Stacy Hendrix Roaderick, testified that Turner told her she had given Glenn Turner green Jell-O the morning of his death.
When she returned about 3:30 p.m. from running errands, Lynn Turner found her husband dead in his bed.
During the second trial, it was revealed that Turner collected $100,000 on a life insurance policy for Glenn Turner, as well as an additional $47,000 life insurance payment through his work policy.
Witnesses also testified that she had at least $35,000 worth of credit card debt at the time of Thompson’s death and was continuously late paying her mortgage.
Prosecutors maintained she wanted to collect on Thompson’s $100,000 insurance policy, which he had let lapse without her knowledge.
Turner appealed her first conviction, partly because prosecutors in that trial were allowed to refer to Thompson’s death.
The Georgia Supreme Court unanimously denied her request for a new trial and wrote in its decision that “there was a logical connection between the Thompson murder and the murder of Turner’s husband.”