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Grand jury finds Wilkes County deer hunter's fatal wounds were 'self-inflicted'

Wednesday, Aug 7, 2013 3:25 PM
Last updated Thursday, Aug 8, 2013 12:39 AM
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A deer hunter whose death last year was first ruled a homicide actually died of self-inflicted wounds, a grand jury concluded after a 10-month investigation.

The body of Jeffrey Sean Gebhardt, 35, of Blairsville, Ga., was found by a Georgia State Patrol helicopter Sept. 22 after he had called authorities to say he was lost in a remote part of the Clarks Hill Wildlife Management Area in Wilkes County.

Two days later, police announced the cause of death as homicide, based on autopsy results. No arrests were ever made.

A statement released Wednesday by the Toombs Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office, however, said the case was being closed after results of the investigation were presented to a grand jury.

The conclusions and decision to close the case were “based upon the opinion of State Medical Examiner Daniel Brown, MD, that all wounds, including the fatal ones, on Mr. Gebhardt were self-inflicted,” the statement said, adding that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation found no evidence of criminal conduct.

Gebhardt, an employee of a north Georgia slaughterhouse, was among 286 hunters who turned out for a Sept. 21-23 early firearms hunt at the 12,700-acre parcel of public land.

On the third night of the hunt, a companion with whom Gebhardt was camping reported him missing about 10 p.m., spawning a search that included Georgia Department of Natural Resources rangers and sheriff’s deputies.

His body was found five hours later.

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Riverman1 08/07/13 - 04:05 pm
Suicide While Hunting

It is very common for the troubled to commit suicide while "hunting." We have many examples locally.

Dixieman 08/07/13 - 04:33 pm
I didn't know that

But it makes sense. Weapon handy, isolated area away from family and friends...I guess if you are determined to commit suicide there are worse ways to go. Still, this is something no one should EVER do under any circumstances.

nocnoc 08/07/13 - 06:04 pm
"that all wounds, including the fatal ones,"

... were self-inflicted...

It is really weird to read about a persons death that has been ruled suicide, by shooting himself several times to make it look like a murder?

This like performing Seppuku with a firearm.

Surely, he had to know they would pull the bullets out and find they were his or was it O-O BUCK?

It is just plain weird.

notsurprised 08/07/13 - 06:09 pm
Actually it doesn't make much sense

Especially when you consider the fact that he took his life with a knife and not the hunting rifle he was carrying. The police and DNR that investigated the scene said he had many stab wounds on his body. I am an avid hunter and have followed this case from the beginning. The only thing that I can figure is that he felt a rifle shot would not be as accurate. Not really sure, but the situation does make me wonder.

Watermedic 08/08/13 - 09:51 am

From what i remember, some of the initial responders said that it was one of the worst scenes that they had been on. From that, I believe is where it was initially ruled a homicide.

Still doesnt make sense to me.

Sweet son
Sweet son 08/08/13 - 11:10 am
Still wonder about his "companion?"

Also, he might have been extremely high on something to be able to stab himself multiple times. Don't think I could stab myself and I don't mind needle sticks or blood draws.

Minnie Lynnie
Minnie Lynnie 09/18/13 - 11:20 pm
Somebody didn't do their job.

How does someone stab themselves 3 times in the heart? A man of Jeff's size could have easily used his gun for a quicker death if he really intended suicide. I think the investigators couldn't get someone to cooperate with them and they decided to cover their butts.

So you're going to tell me that a man who is careful enough to use a harness in his tree stand, who unloaded his weapon before climbing down then stabs himself? Seriously? Where is the common sense here people? Supposedly he stabbed himself 3 times in the heart. How is that even possible??? I think the investigators let this case go cold and didn't want to even try to warm it back up.

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