Man found with head wound in downtown Melbourne dies

Kent Wilbanks found unconscious in parking lot


MELBOURNE, Fla. – Superbowl Sunday was a busy night at The Debauchery Bar in Melbourne, but a bartender could not forget two faces. Kent Wilbanks, 53, stopped by for a drink, alone.

"He seemed to be minding his own business, like I said, he was happy, smiling,” said the bartender, who did not want to be identified.

But Wilbanks never made it more than a couple hundred feet from the bar's front steps.

"The cops were like, 'No, no, no. You can't go that way,' and that's when I noticed the sweater and a pile of blood," the bartender said.

Wilbanks was found unconscious in the parking lot between The Debauchery and Matt's Casbah after 2 a.m. Not many people were around, but grainy surveillance video showed one person in the area, someone police call a "possible witness."

News 6 showed the bartender the police photo, and she immediately recognized the guy she said was so drunk, she denied him drinks.

"If it was that gentleman that I think it was, he was belligerent drunk, crazy drunk," she said.

Meanwhile, friends and neighbors of Wilbanks are struggling with his death. Lynn Higginbotham grew very close to the man she said would do anything for anyone.

"Kent was my brother from another mother, that's how close we had gotten in such a short time," Higginbotham said.

Others who lived nearby were shocked they'd no longer see Wilbanks' smiling face.

"It feels funny in your heart, but it doesn't seem real to you, like, I cannot believe this," Pam Shaffer said.

Melbourne police urge anyone with information to call Detective Mitchell at 321-608-6731 or the anonymous Central Florida Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS.