Courts & Crime

CSI Hilton Head? Suicide ruling leaves questions unanswered

HILTON HEAD, S.C. _ Although the Georgia Bureau of Investigation ruled Sonny Graham's death a suicide, its report doesn't address a number of questions surrounding the demise of a well-known Hilton Head Island man who married his heart donor's widow.

Among them:

  • Why would a man who was despondent enough to put a shotgun to his neck and pull the trigger also have completed some chores before he took his life and planned others for later in the day?
  • Why would Graham, a gun enthusiast with a large collection of weapons who taught gun safety courses, take a chance on using birdshot to end his life instead of a more damaging and certain slug?
  • Why did his wife, Cheryl Watkins, send a two-word MySpace message _ "call me!!" _ to her son Timmy early on the morning that Graham died?
  • How did his widow, a woman whose marriage to Graham was her fifth, spend $50,000 in life insurance money after Graham's death? Did she spend the money as his will instructed?
  • How deeply did the GBI look into her background?
  • Watkins had tumultuous relationships with each of her five husbands, according to interviews and documents. She couldn't be reached for comment on this article. Three calls and a message left with a woman who said she was her mother in Vidalia, Ga., weren't returned.

    The GBI stands by its Sept. 22 finding that Graham killed himself.

    "There will be holes in any investigation because there are always unknowns," GBI assistant special agent-in-charge Todd Lowery said last week. "You have to look at the totality of the evidence."

    Yet the evidence has left Graham's family and friends unconvinced.

    One of his sisters speculated to a GBI agent that even if it was suicide, Cheryl "drove him to it."

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