TREASURE ISLAND – Police are treating the death of a 37-year-old man found floating a mile offshore on Sept. 8 as a suicide.
At 2:22 p.m., Sept. 8, it was reported that a small bow rider type vessel had washed up onto the beach of the 10600 block of Gulf Boulevard.
Treasure Island Police Department Officers responded and investigated. The investigation revealed that the boat was rented from a nearby business and was operated by a single person who insisted on going out into the Gulf of Mexico against the rental company’s advice due to the rough sea conditions. Personal belongings found onboard were inventoried and blood evidence was located on the inside gunwales of the vessel.
Due to the suspicious circumstances, an investigation continued and the U.S. Coast Guard was called to assist with a search of the water near the scene. A short time later, the Coast Guard located a body of a male floating in the water approximately a mile from the beach where the rented boat washed ashore.
The Treasure Island Police Department Marine Unit with Treasure Island Officers responded to the area and recovered the body, which was found to have a fatal gunshot wound.
The body matched the description and ID photos of the person who rented the vessel and the belongings found onboard.
The initial investigation indicated it was a suicide by gunshot, but the investigation is ongoing until all facts are confirmed.
The body was transferred to the Pinellas/Pasco Medical Examiner’s Office.
The victim was identified as John Matthew Wheeler, 37, of Wimauma, a small town in southern Hillsborough County. Next-of-kin notifications have been made.