The Murder of Holly Bobo

Holly Lynn Bobo, 21, disappeared the morning of April 13, 2011 from her home in Darden, Tennessee.  She had woken up around 4:00 am that morning to study for a nursing exam which she was scheduled to take at 8:oo am.  Her mother saw Holly dressed and sitting at the kitchen table as she headed out to work.  Holly was also talking to and texting a friend, who was also a nursing student, during this time.  By all accounts, she seemed fine.

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Holly Bobo

A neighbor called Holly’s mother around 7:40 am saying that they had heard a scream from the Bobo house.  Though Holly’s younger brother, Clint Bobo, had not heard the scream, he did witness Holly in a seemingly heated discussion with a man wearing camouflage outside of their house shortly before 8:00 am.  He described Holly and the man as kneeling down near Holly’s car, and could hear Holly saying something like, “No, why?” but could not decipher their conversation any further.

Clint assumed that the man was Holly’s boyfriend and that the two were having an argument.  He later observed Holly and the man walking into the woods together. After their mother confirmed that the man could not have been Holly’s boyfriend, Clint went outside with a loaded gun and found blood where the two had been speaking.  Her family almost immediately reported Holly missing and extensive searches were conducted of the area.

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Holly’s Father, Mother, and Brother

Three years later, Holly’s remains were found by ginseng hunters in a remote forested area around 20 miles away from her home.  After the arrest of five men, a smattering of (sometimes inaccurate) media coverage, and allegations of investigatory misconduct, the mystery surrounding Holly Bobo’s disappearance and murder remains.


Timeline

August 13, 2011

4:30 AM : Holly wakes up to study for her nursing exam.  Her dad sees her as he is leaving for  work.

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Holly in Uniform

7:00 AM : Holly’s mother leaves for work and sees Holly studying.  Holly also speaks to and is texting another nursing student at this point.

7:30 AM : Holly speaks on the phone to her boyfriend, Drew Scott, who had been turkey hunting on Holly’s grandmother’s property that morning.  A relative of the Bobo family had witnessed Drew hunting on the property, but did not immediately recognize him.  This relative had then confronted Drew about needing permission to hunt there.  Drew had to explain who he was and what he was doing.  Afterwards, Drew made this call to Holly to also notify her of the situation.

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Holly Bobo and Boyfriend Drew Scott

7:40 AM : A neighbor hears a scream while leaving for work.  He mentions the scream to his mother and then continues on to work.

7:45 AM : The neighbor’s mother leaves a message with Holly’s mother’s work that a scream was heard coming from their home.

7:50 AM : Holly’s brother, Clint Bobo, is awoken by the family dogs barking.  He had not heard the scream, but upon waking, he notices Holly outside talking with a man, and describes the following scene:

“I slightly raised the blinds and looked out this window and saw Holly.  It appeared to be Holly kneeling down and Drew.

They looked like they were kneeled down, facing each other in the garage, and they were talking back and forth. Holly sounded very upset and heated.

He was doing much of the talking, and she would answer back and things like that. I couldn’t make out hardly any of the words. The only words I could make out from here were Holly saying, ‘No, why?'”

Clint calls his mother’s cell phone but the call goes unanswered.  Shortly after,  Holly and Clint’s mother receives the message regarding the scream and calls Clint who confirms that Holly’s car is still at the house.  Their mother was fairly certain, almost immediately, that the man was not Holly’s boyfriend, Drew.

Upon hearing that Clint had seen Holly with a man, Holly’s mother said she asserted the following:

“Clint, that’s not Drew. Get a gun and shoot him.”

Clint, however, is still not convinced that the man is someone other than Holly’s boyfriend, Drew.

7:55 AM : Holly’s mother calls 911, but is connected to the wrong county dispatch.  Clint observes Holly and the man in camouflage walking into the woods together.  Holly Bobo is never seen alive again.  Clint calls Holly’s cell phone, and then her boyfriend’s cell phone.  Both calls go to voicemail.

Right before 8:00 AM : Holly and Clint’s mother calls Clint again.  She is adamant that the man he saw earlier was not Holly’s boyfriend.  Clint tells his mother that the two have disappeared into the woods.  His mother implores him to call 911 from the home location so that the correct dispatch will be reached.

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The Bobo Home

8:00 AM : Clint goes outside with a loaded gun and finds blood near his sister’s car.  He also calls 911 around the same time.  The neighbor’s mother arrives at the house.

March 5, 2014

Over two years later, a man named Zachary Adams is indicted for the kidnapping and murder of Holly Bobo.

Zach Adams has an extensive criminal record including charges of domestic violence, assault, and drug possession.  In 2014, Zach pleaded guilty to shooting his own mother in her knee.

Zach also, according to some news sources, was identified (by the victim) as the perpetrator of a failed abduction attempt a little over an hour away from where Holly Bobo disappeared.  The woman allegedly claimed that “a tall, skinny white male with dark hair tried to grab her as she walked out of her home around 5:30 a.m. [on] January 23, 2011,” only seven months prior to Holly’s disappearance.  However, Zach Adams has not been charged or tried in relation to this case.

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From Left to Right: Sketch of failed abductor and a mugshot of Zach Adams

April 29, 2014

Jason Autry, a friend of the Adams family, is also indicted for the kidnapping and murder of Holly Bobo.

May 29, 2014

Brothers, Jeffrey and Mark Pearcy are charged with tampering with evidence related to the Holly Bobo case.  Investigators seems to believe they knowledge of a video of Holly Bobo which was made after she had been abducted.

 September 7, 2014

Holly’s remains are found by ginseng hunters.  The location is about 20 minutes away from Holly’s home and approximately 15 miles away from the home of Zach Adams.

The first man arrested for killing Holly, Zach Adam’s brother, Dylan Adams, is charged the same day with the rape of Holly Bobo after investigators say he allegedly admitted to raping Holly.

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One of the ginseng hunters that found Holly Bobo’s remains


 

The Bucket

One of the most eerie details of the case concerns a bucket found near Holly Bobo’s remains.  One of the two men that found Holly’s remains described initially upturning and looking inside of a large bucket he found in the woods.  He said that the contents of the bucket, which authorities asked him to not detail to media, deeply disturbed him and made him nauseous.  He then, only after noticing the bucket, realized that Holly’s skull and remains were scattered around.

Holly_Bobo_Missing_003Internet speculation has ran rampant regarding the potential contents of the bucket.  Because Holly’s remains were found separately from the bucket, it stands to reason that the bucket contained something else.  People have suggested everything regarding the contents, ranging from simply being more (though potentially gnarlier) remains, teeth,  bloody clothing, weapons used to torture her, or even, possibly (though unlikely), the remains of a fetus.

Authorities were tight-lipped regarding the bucket, and many of the initial reports detailing how the ginseng hunters found Holly’s remains seem to be no longer available (though could be primarily due to the passage of time).


Shady Characters Abound

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Shayne Austin

Ultimately, a total of five men have been arrested in connection with the case of Holly Bobo.  However, few details regarding the cases and evidence against these individuals have been released or produced by investigators or prosecutors, leading to public criticism of the arrests.

Zach Adams, Dylan Adams, and Jason Autry were all ultimately charged with especially aggravated kidnapping, first-degree murder, and rape.  Another man, Shayne Austin, was also seemingly involved; however, he committed suicide about a year after the other men were arrested.

Shayne Austin had made a deal for full immunity in the Bobo case (as well as immunity for other, non-related charges), but the immunity was abruptly revoked.  Prosecutors argued that they would no longer offer Shayne immunity because he “lied about the day 20-year-old Bobo disappeared,” though they refused to release any further details.  Shayne’s attorney cited continual threats of prosecution and the “witch hunt” style of the investigation as the impetus for Shayne’s suicide.

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From Left to Right: Dylan Adams, Zach Adams, and Jason Autry

The arrests of Zach, Dylan, and Jason, seemed to stem from a police interview with Dylan Adams, who has been described to the media as “mentally challenged” and “a grown man with the IQ of a ten-year-old” by family members.  It is unknown what first led police to question Dylan about the Bobo case, but he ultimately told investigators that he saw Holly with Jason and Zach.  He said that Zach was wearing “camouflage shorts, a black cut-off sleeve t-shirt, and a pair of green Crocs.”  Dylan also said that Zach had mentioned that he raped Holly and videotaped it.

Dylan has since alleged that all of his comments were coerced by police.  Zach and Jason have both maintained their innocence consistently, though they are admittedly unscrupulous characters and self-proclaimed drug addicts.  In an interview from jail, Jason Autry emphatically proclaimed:

“I’m a drug addict and a thief… I’m not a killer.”

Brothers, Jeff and Mark Pearcy, were also arrested on the basis of allegations made by Jeff Pearcy’s former roommate, Sandra King.  She stated that Jeff Pearcy showed her a video of Holly Bobo being assaulted by Zach Adams.  Sandra argued that Jeff had the video because his brother, Mark, had been involved in the kidnapping.  According to her testimony, Mark Pearcy was the one who actually filmed the assault.

Jeff Pearcy denies directly knowing any of the first three men arrested.  Ultimately, authorities could not find evidence of the existence of the rumored video, and charges were later dropped for both men.


Difficult Connections

A connection between the slew of suspects held by police and the overtly normal life of Holly Bobo is difficult to find.  Police have neither presented evidence nor suggested that any of the men arrested knew Holly Bobo directly or were known to her.

The only verified connection between Holly and any of these men is that Holly’s mother was Zach Adams’s fourth grade teacher many years prior.

A friend of Holly’s told the media that Holly probably knew of Zach, but that they were not well-acquainted and there was no further connection between the two than that.  There are no other legitimate theories of connection between these men and Holly, and though a motive is not essential in every murder case, it seems odd that at least six men total would have either been knowledgeable about or active in the abduction, prolonged detainment, rape, and murder of a seeming stranger.

Investigators did find a blonde hair in the closet of the Adams home, but have not confirmed if forensic testing was conducted on it.

A Croc footprint was also found outside of the Bobo home; however, the footprint has never been established as directly related to Holly’s abduction.  In fact, a private investigator for the Bobo family has suggested that the initial search for Holly could have invalidated, or even destroyed, “critical information, including the abductor’s shoe size or even blood and DNA.”   The investigator described the initial chaos after police responded to scene, stating that, “There were four-wheelers in the backyard, horses, helicopters. There were a lot of people, and they were all out there looking.”

Another loose connection is that Holly’s remains were found only 11 miles from the Adams home.

Early reports also indicated that Jason Autry’s father and Holly Bobo’s father were cousins, but these reports all appear to have been redacted or deleted now (potentially because they were erroneous), leaving only speculation in web forums.

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The prosecution has delayed the cases as much as possible by all but refusing to present evidence to the defense.

There have also been publicized spats between the District Attorney and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI).

TBI also denies the private investigator’s claims that the crime scene was compromised by searchers on the day of the disappearance.

At another point during the debacle, the prosecution did not arrange transport for Mark Pearcy from jail to his own trial, leading to the dismissal of his charges being significantly delayed.

The seemingly unending prosecution of unsavory characters, who at best seem only loosely connected to Holly Bobo, with little to no legitimate evidence presented has led some to question whether the police have any idea of what actually happened, or if the perpetrators were simply decided upon from the beginning.


 

Considerations

Though authorities have released little to almost no information, the abduction and murder of Holly Bobo continues to be a captivating mystery.  The details that continue to surround Holly’s story have dark implications and are especially troublesome.

The following points touch upon many theories, and issues, regarding Holly’s murder:

  1. The fact that Clint observed Holly speaking to the abductor implies that this was someone who was probably known to Holly.  Many have pointed out that if it had been an abduction by a complete stranger, that the act of stopping to kneel down and have a heated conversation would have been odd.  They also headed into the woods together without any sign of struggle or distress (that Clint observed).
    Unfortunately, there is no way to know what exactly was said between the two, so there is a certainly the chance that it was a stranger directing her to go with him to the woods, telling her to not make a sound, or threatening her in some way.301490_296547653688896_739159875_n
  2. If Clint initially thought Holly’s abductor was her boyfriend, none of the men arrested resemble her boyfriend.  Clint described the suspect as being between 5’10” and 6 foot tall, and from 180 to 200 pounds.  Zach Adams would have been taller and, substantially, skinnier.  Jason Autry would have been substantially taller and larger.  Dylan Adams could have potentially resembled Holly’s boyfriend from behind, but it seems unlikely that he was the one to actually abduct her.
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    Boyfriend, Drew, On Right

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    Zach Adams, Dylan Adams, and Jason Autry

  3. The Pearcy brothers are difficult to reliably connect to the Adams brothers and Jason Autry.  They may have known of each other through loose connections, but nothing substantial was ever made public.  Furthermore, and similarly, it is extremely difficult to connect any of the suspects directly to Holly, her home, or her schedule.

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    Hope for Holly Balloon Release

  4. Another interesting aspect of the case is that Holly’s mother’s almost immediately directs Clint to shoot the man outside arguing with Holly.  By some (unverifiable) accounts, Holly had taken out a restraining order against a previous boyfriend, Blake Barnett.
    Could Holly’s mother have been assuming the camouflaged man was Holly’s ex-boyfriend?  Interestingly, Blake would go on to be arrested three years after Holly’s disappearance for domestic assault and kidnapping (unrelated to Holly).  According to media reports, a friend of Holly’s confirmed that “Bobo and Barnett broke up before the nursing student disappeared and the split was not amicable.”

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    Blake Barnett


 

Closing

The trial for the abduction and murder of Holly Bobo is not anticipated to go before a jury until early 2017.  Authorities do not know yet if they will try the defendants together or separately.  All of the suspects have been waiting in jail since 2014.

In 2015, prosecutors confirmed that they would seek the death penalty for Zach Adams, Dylan Adams, and Jason Autry.  The court filings declared that:

“The murder was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel in that it involved torture or serious physical abuse beyond that necessary to produce death.”

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However, the defense attorneys for the suspects have asserted that “they have not seen any evidence linking their clients to the crime.”  The attorney for Zach Adams claims that because the prosecution has provided so little evidence, “[she] still [has] very little understanding of what [Zach is] accused of doing.”

In an interview conducted in 2016, Adams’ attorney also implicated another suspect that “has no relation to the current suspects and would have a completely different motive,” but refused to name the individual.  She claimed the following:

“[This suspect] has never been cleared by the TBI, and in fact, it appears the government has more evidence of his guilt than it does of the three defendants charged in the present case.”

140310-holly-bobo-04_6521c631811273d15e03bf4d73875d17.nbcnews-fp-1200-800The trial next year will hopefully procure some justice for Holly.

Holly’s family seems assured that the correct perpetrators have been apprehended, and are reportedly “very confident in the work that law enforcement has done.”

Holly Bobo had planned to be a nurse and was held in high esteem by friends and family.  She was “well-known as a woman who loved her community, her family, and was devoted to her church.”  Friends described her as “always nice and a paradigm of human kindness.”

Robyn Bingham, a high school friend of Holly’s, stated the following:

“She taught everyone to laugh and have fun. She was not afraid to sing and dance.

Those are qualities that came easily to her, and seeing the way she could light up a room with them made me want to work on improving those qualities within myself.

Knowing Holly has made me a better person. She loved everyone. She saw the best in people and was a friend to all. She showed genuine love to her friends and even to strangers.”

 

1394148173002-030614hollyboboIn remembrance of Holly, The Holly Bobo Memorial Scholarship Fund has been created to provide funding for a nursing student every year.  Donations can be sent to The Holly Bobo Memorial Fund, c/o Corinth Baptist, 1350 Corinth Baptist Church, Darden, TN 38328.

Anyone who has any information relating to the heinous murder of Holly Bobo is asked to call the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office at (731) 852-3703 or 1-800-TBI-FIND.

One thought on “The Murder of Holly Bobo

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