WMA Hunter Murdered
A Blairsville deer hunter, first reported lost during a Clarks Hill WMA hunt, found murdered along remote shoreline of the reservoir.
A month after a north Georgia man was murdered during a deer hunt at a Georgia Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Wilkes County, there’s been no arrest. That fact is enough to keep nerves on edge among hunters in the Holliday Park area of Clarks Hill Lake, but authorities say hunters don’t need to fear a “Rambo-type” killer targeting hunters.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) autopsy results confirmed Jeffrey Shawn Gebhardt, 35, of Blairsville, was the victim of murder. Gebhardt was found dead around 3 a.m. on Sunday morning, Sept. 23.
Gebhardt and a friend from north Georgia were camping at Holliday Park and taking part in the Sept. 21-23 firearms deer hunt at 12,700-acre Clarks Hill WMA. The hunt allows firearms hunters into the deer woods almost a month before the statewide gun season opens. About 260 hunters were signed-in for the popular annual hunt.
Wilkes County Sheriff Mark Moore said Gebhardt was reported lost sometime Saturday evening and then was found dead early Sunday morning in a very remote area along the banks of Clarks Hill Lake. When Gebhardt was reported missing, the search effort grew to include personnel from DNR, the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office and Washington Fire Department. In the early hours of Sunday morning, Gebhardt’s body was spotted from the air by a Georgia State Patrol helicopter crew using heat-detecting infrared equipment.
Sheriff Moore said he could provide very few details regarding the murder since it was still being investigated, but he said he hoped the case would soon be resolved, possibly when pending lab tests are completed.
Sheriff Moore said Gebhardt and his friend had been camping in the Holliday Park area since Thursday and began to hunt Friday. Gebhardt had gotten lost Friday, but made his way back to the campground area, where a hunter camping nearby gave him a ride back to where he had parked his vehicle. The next evening, Gebhardt was reported missing by his friend at around 10 p.m. The search effort grew to include personnel from the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office, Washington Fire Department and DNR.
A Georgia State Patrol helicopter joined the search using heat-sensitive infrared detection equipment, and around 2 a.m. the crew located the potential heat signature of a person along the shore of Clarks Hill Lake. Searchers reached the area around 3 a.m. and found Gebhardt’s body.
“Hopefully we’ll have something resolved in some short order,” said Sheriff Moore. “We’re still awaiting some lab reports. We have some evidence that’s being analyzed, and there are still some interviews being conducted.
“The evidence at this time doesn’t indicate that’s there any Rambo-type murderer running in the woods,” Sheriff Moore said. “We interviewed quite a few people that were hunting in that specific area. There were two people together that were friends, and we believe we interviewed everyone that had talked to them. This young man that got murdered, he got lost the day before, also, and we interviewed people who saw him after he found his way out the woods. We think we talked to everybody that was in that particular area, but if anyone hunting in the area at that time might have some information, we’d certainly like to talk to them.”
If you have information, call the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office at (706) 678-2224.
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