James Edwards, a Washington resident, was found in Railroad Alley, a cut-through path off Williams Street.
Wilkes County Coroner Blake Thompson said Edwards died of an apparent gunshot wound. An autopsy will be done this week at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab in Atlanta.
Authorities say gunshots were reported in the area about 5 a.m. Sunday, but police were unable to locate any disturbance. Edwards was found a short time later by a passer-by.
There are no suspects at this time, GBI Special Agent in Charge Pat Morgan said.