At about 6:30 p.m. Saturday, investigators located a woman’s body at the bottom of a well near a field in Franklin County, about 3 miles from the home in Canon where Bonny Anne Cooner lived with her son and boyfriend, Brent Shubert, said Mike Ayers, special agent in charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Athens regional office.
“Interviews with the boyfriend, family, friends and other individuals did lead us to this particular site” where the woman’s body was found, Ayers said Sunday morning.
Shubert, 42, was taken into custody Sunday morning in Anderson County, S.C., on charges of murder, aggravated assault and concealing a death, Ayers said.
Authorities questioned Shubert several times about Cooner’s mysterious disappearance, and Ayers said he was unsure if the suspect went to Anderson because he believed his arrest was imminent.
As of late Sunday morning, authorities had not positively identified the remains in the well as belonging to Cooner. Ayers said the well was to be excavated Sunday to remove the body and take it to the GBI’s Crime Lab in Decatur to perform an autopsy and determine the cause of death.
“Based on the totality of evidence and information we developed through interviews, we believe it is Bonny,” Ayers said of the body in the well.
When Cooner was reported missing on Jan. 28, she left behind her 12-year-old son, car and other belongings.
The Franklin County Sheriff’s office immediately started searching for Cooner after she was reported missing, using police aviation units and dogs to search the heavily wooded area around the woman’s home, as well as streams and ponds.
The GBI got involved in the case Tuesday, and collaboration between the two agencies bore almost immediate results.
On Friday, Ayers said that investigators determined that Cooner was the victim of foul play. They concluded that from “significant” forensic evidence collected and from extensive interviews with the suspect and others.
In addition, GBI computer forensic specialists examined Cooner’s computer and cellphone, and agents followed up with detailed reviews of phone and financial records, Ayers said.
Also on Friday, Ayers made an appeal that asked those closest to Cooner to come forward with any information that might assist the investigation.
Investigators developed “significant leads” on Saturday that led them to the well in Franklin County, the GBI agent said.
Ayers said after discovering the body investigators immediately obtained arrest warrants for Shubert. Authorities had information that he might be in South Carolina, and Anderson police, along with GBI agents and Franklin County deputies, located him in a parking lot in downtown Anderson at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday, the agent said.
Shubert was being held Sunday at the local jail in Anderson pending his extradition to Georgia.
Ayers would not discuss possible motives for Cooner’s slaying.
There was a history of domestic violence between Shubert and Cooner, according to published reports.
Ayers thanked those who assisted in the missing person case.
“Ms. Cooner’s family has been very helpful and supportive of our efforts since the day she went missing,” Ayers said. “The same goes to many of her friends and the community at large.”