Saturday May 21st, 2022 6:36PM

Fla. police release report on death of Dawson Co. ADA

By B.J. Williams Assistant News Director
FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. - As expected, the Fernandina Beach Police Department Friday afternoon released a report on the death of the Assistant District Attorney (ADA) from Dawson County.

The report said that police found the body of John Wilbanks, 57, of Gainesville on the beach at 2410 South Fletcher in Fernandina Beach. Wilbanks had taken his own life Thursday morning, according to the report.

The report said the Wilbanks family owned a beach house nearby.

Wilbanks, who was the supervising Assistant District Attorney in Dawson County, had been fired from his job Monday, according to the police report. Police said Wilbanks' wife had shared that information with them, and she also told them her husband had been depressed.

Local authorities had confirmed Thursday night that Wilbanks was no longer working for the DA's office, but they did not give an explanation for his departure.

In addition, there were reports that Wilbanks was under investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

When asked in an e-mail Friday about an investigation, GBI spokesman John Bankhead replied, "It's closed."

District Attorney Lee Darragh serves both Hall and Dawson Counties and he issued a written statement Thursday on the death of Wilbanks.

"The horribly tragic death of John Wilbanks weighs heavily on my heart. My sincerest sympathies are with John's wife Deborah and all of his family in this very difficult time. Mr. Wilbanks was a dedicated public servant with a decades long history of effective prosecution and the administration of justice, and his life should be honored regardless of the investigation being reported. My entire office is saddened by these events, and he will be missed as a colleague and friend."

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