Investigators calling murder of hunter in Wilkes Co. 'bizarre'

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News 12 at 6 o' clock / Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012

WILKES COUNTY, Ga. -- The investigation continues into a Wilkes County murder that seasoned investigators are calling "bizarre."

The body of a lost hunter was found in Holliday Park in Wilkes County early Sunday morning.

Investigators from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Natural Resources and the Wilkes County Sheriff's Office were back at the crime scene Wednesday, searching for clues.

"It is rather bizarre, but right now, truthfully, we have a lot more questions than we have answers," said Mike Ayers with the GBI.

A Blairsville, Ga., man went hunting in Wilkes County with a friend this past weekend. Investigators got a call Saturday night that Jeffery Sean Gebhardt was lost in the woods.

A search team scoured the area, and a helicopter found his body early Sunday morning. Investigators say they found the body in a remote, marshy area.

"Every death investigation takes on a life of its own, but this one has some unique characteristics that you just don't see everyday," Ayers said.

Since no one is in custody yet, investigators aren't releasing a lot of facts in the case. They will only say it was murder with odd circumstances, and they are still looking for the killer.

"You hear a lot of people talking about it, a whole bunch of different stories, but we'll just have to wait and see what the final word is, and hopefully, they'll get the person that done it," said James Stone, who lives in Washington.

Stone owns a restaurant in Washington, and he's lived there for years but says he's never heard of anything like this.

"It's very rare to have something like that around here," he said. "Very rare."

He fishes near the murder scene all the time, but Sunday's murder is making him second guess his fishing hole.

"It'll make you watch folks around there now. Makes me more suspicious about who you see and just kind of watch them a little different," he said.

He isn't the only one exercising caution. Neighbors like Willie Porter who live near Holliday Park are worried, too.

"I keep my door locked now. I used to not lock it, but when I'm outdoors and my wife's not home, I lock my door," he said.

He says he'll continue to lock his door until the killer is caught, which may be a while.

"We are making progress, but it is going to be an extremely difficult investigation," Ayers said.

Investigators say even though it's a rural area, there were a lot of people around when the murder happened. They are asking anyone with information to contact the Wilkes County Sheriff's Office.

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