Local News

1/3/2013

Police focus Sublett probe

By GORDON JACKSON The Brunswick News

Investigators continue to treat the death of Glynn County Commissioner Tom Sublett as a homicide case, but they haven't ruled out the possibility of suicide, Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering said Wednesday.

"It's still ongoing," he said. "A death investigation can be one of four things: accidental, natural causes, homicide or suicide. We have a suspicious death with suspicious circumstances."

Doering said investigators have already determined Sublett's death was not accidental or from natural causes.

"In a death investigation, you have to look at all the evidence," he said. "This case is no different. We're still analyzing all the evidence."

Sublett's body was found at about 6 a.m. Dec. 11 in the Frederica River at Gascoigne Bluff Park, on St. Simons Island, between a boat and a dock at the St. Simons Island Boating and Fishing Club.

His hands were bound in front of him with a plastic zip tie, such as used to band wires and cables, and he had been shot once in his head. A medical examiner's report determined the cause of death was drowning, indicating that he was breathing when he entered the water.

Doering declined to say if medical examiners determined that Sublett had injuries other than a bullet wound to his head.

A police report released Monday indicated blood was found on the trunk lid of Sublett's car, which was found about 150 yards from where his body was discovered.

Doering declined to say what divers are searching for in the Frederica River, saying the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is keeping him apprised of any new evidence or developments. "Speculation can lead to false conclusions," he said. "For me, it's not speculation. I know what they are looking for."

But Glynn County Coroner Jimmy Durden said Wednesday he believes he knows what divers are searching for: "They were looking for a weapon," he said.

Durden said it could be weeks or months before the GBI says anything publicly about the case, after consulting with the medical examiner's office.

The GBI took over the investigation from Glynn County police, without public explanation, shortly after Sublett was found. Doering said Wednesday the department turned over the case because many of its command officers and investigators had worked with Sublett while he was a commissioner and felt they might be too close to the case personally.

Sublett, 52, would have completed his only term on the Glynn County Commission Monday. He did not seek re-election in November.

Friends told investigators they last saw him Dec. 10, after he left a friend's house on Oak Grove Island, in western Glynn County, at about 10 p.m., after a regular low-stakes poker game.

After the game, Sublett reportedly dropped off a friend at 10:30 p.m., then started driving toward St. Simons Island, where he lived in Hamilton Landing, a development about a half mile from where his body was found.

Investigators said they were able to track Sublett's route from the GPS in his vehicle. They also obtained surveillance tapes from multiple businesses the night of his death, including service stations, convenience stores, pharmacies and restaurants.