SAVANNAH, Ga. — A coastal Georgia commissioner was shot in the head before he drowned in the Frederica River, where his body was found next to a docked boat, but officials have not determined whether it was homicide or suicide, the county coroner said Thursday.
The body of Glynn County Commissioner Tom Sublett, 52, was found early Tuesday, hours after he didn’t return home from a Monday night poker game he regularly played with friends. Police suspect foul play but released few details.
Coroner Jimmy Durden said an autopsy was done but he is still awaiting a ruling on the manner of death, as in whether it was homicide or suicide. Police have been investigating the case as a homicide.
Despite the gunshot, evidence showed it was the water that ultimately caused Sublett’s death, the coroner said.
“If he did have a gunshot wound to the head before he went in, he was not dead because he had water in his lungs” when the body was found, Durden said.
Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering referred calls to the GBI, which has taken the lead in the investigation. Mike McDaniel, the agent in the charge of the GBI’s Kingsland office, declined to comment.
Sublett, who sold commercial real estate, was wrapping up his first term on the Glynn County Commission. He had decided not to seek re-election after his term ended Dec. 31.
Sublett was well known in the community as a business and civic leader. He came to Glynn County as an executive with a local seafood company, then after it was sold shifted to selling commercial real estate. He served as chairman of the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce in 2006 and 2007 and held positions with several local organizations, including the Rotary Club and the United Way.
Police said Sublett was last seen at about 10:30 p.m. Monday when he dropped off a friend who had ridden with him to the poker game at the home of one of Sublett’s business partners. The commissioner’s wife called friends and police early Tuesday after he failed to come home. Sublett’s car was found on a bluff overlooking the Frederica River at about 4 a.m. His body was discovered about two hours later at a marina about 150 yards away.
Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering has released few details but said officers found the commissioner’s wallet with some of its contents missing.
Police and GBI agents have scoured the marina and adjacent riverside park and sent divers into the river to search for clues. Authorities have kept quiet about what they found.