There are some people who just seem to light up the room when they enter it. People the world notices when they arrive and mourns when they’ve gone. Holly was the type of shy, sweet, hardworking person who was instantly liked by anyone who met her.
She was a dedicated student who was studying nursing while she lived at home with her parents. Little did her family know that this dedication and her penchant for getting up early, would ultimately lead to her eventual disappearance…
Holly awoke early, at about 4:30 am to cram a few extra hours in for an upcoming exam. Her brother Clint was still asleep and her parents were getting ready to leave for work. A few hours later, her cell phone rang. It was her boyfriend, Drew Scott, who was turkey hunting nearby on her grandmother’s property.
Barks and a Scream
In the early hours of the morning, Holly and Drew spoke for what would be the last time. The call ended and a neighbor heard a scream coming from Holly’s house. Clint, who was sound asleep, didn’t hear a thing. Thankfully, the neighbor decided to call Karen, Holly’s mother, and warn her that something might be wrong. Meanwhile, the family dogs began barking furiously and Clint woke up…
Clint ran to his window to see what might be making his dogs go crazy. Out in the garage, he spied what looked like Holly and her boyfriend Drew, kneeling in front of each other and talking heatedly back and forth. Though he couldn’t hear most of what they were saying, Clint noted that Holly seemed upset and could have sworn he heard her say, “No, why?” Could they have been breaking up?
As Clint was observing what he believed might be the end of his sister’s relationship, his cell phone began ringing. It was his mother, calling from work and telling him that the man who was outside with Holly was not Drew Scott. “Clint,” she said frantically. “That’s not Drew. Get a gun and shoot him.” Clint couldn’t believe what she was saying, “You want me to shoot Drew?” he asked her…
Karen Bobo hung up with her son and called 911. Unfortunately for her and for Holly, she reached a dispatcher from the wrong county and had to be rerouted. In the meantime, Clint was debating what to do next. He grabbed his gun and watched as the man in camouflage, who he still half-believed was Drew, walked Holly into the woods behind the property.
Clint Bobo tried to call his sister’s cell phone, just to see if she could explain who she was with…before he ran out brandishing a firearm, but she didn’t answer. With no other choice, he took his gun, went outside, and chased after them. When he looked down and saw fresh blood on the carport, he knew he’d made a terrible mistake…
Ping Her Cell
The police were already on the case by the time Holly had been lead away. The first thing they did was ping her cell phone, which indicated that she was moving away from her home tower heading north. It continued into a wooded area near Interstate 40 and then, around 9 am, the cell phone stopped moving for 30 minutes before moving away again. Police never tracked it down in time.
Extensive searches were conducted of the area around the Bobo house and along the route the pinged cell phone had travelled to no avail. Over the next few weeks, random items belonging to Holly were found scattered throughout the town. Her lunchbox, a receipt with her name on it, a card from school, her cell phone, and the SIM card from it as well which had been removed. Yet still there was no sign of Holly…
It wasn’t until September of that year, five months after 20-year-old Holly Bobo disappeared that a clutch of remains were discovered by ginseng hunters in a wooded area of northern Decatur County, Tennessee. Investigators recovered Holly’s skull, teeth, several ribs, and one shoulder blade about 20 miles from her home. It appeared as though she died from a single bullet to the head. Now they just had to find out who did it.
Over the course of the next few years, a total of six men have been implicated in connection to the disappearance and murder of Holly Bobo. The first of the arrests occurred prior to the discovery of Holly’s remains. Zach Adams, his brother Dylan Adams, and friend Jason Autry were hauled in on suspicion of aggravated kidnapping, first-degree murder, and rape, but they weren’t the only ones…
More of Them
Another two men, Jeffrey and Mark Pearcy, were arrested on charges of accessory after the fact and tampering with evidence. Those charges were eventually dropped, but another suspect, Shayne Austin was hauled in for the crime as well. Why so many, you may ask? Well, the story begins with an overzealous police detective who initially arrested Dylan Adams on unrelated weapons charges and decided that perhaps he was partially responsible for Holly’s disappearance as well.
Following this arrest, Dylan told police that he saw Holly alive, sitting in a green chair in Zach’s living room, wearing a pink T-shirt, with his brother and Jason Autry a month after her initial abduction. He had gone to Zach’s to get his truck and thought it was odd that she was there. He also told them that his brother had been wearing camouflage shorts that day, which could have been what Clint Bobo saw…
And that wasn’t all that Dylan had to say about his brother and the deceased girl. He told police that Zach had raped Holly and videotaped it, though this video evidence was never found. Later, Dylan recanted the whole confession, saying it had been coerced out of him by police. But it was too late, police soon brought in Zach Adams, Jason Autry, and Shayne Austin.
Austin was brought in on Dylan Adams’ testimony and was initially offered immunity in exchange for information regarding the location of Holly’s body, which the police believed he helped Austin dispose of. This was chiefly due to the fact that phone records indicated Austin and Adams had been in contact on the day of her abduction. Sadly, before he could testify, Austin was found dead of an apparent suicide in Bartow, Florida…
Shayne Austin’s suicide created more problems for the already problematic investigation. Many of the details contained in Adams’ confession were eventually found to be inconsistent with the actual evidence. Not only that, but the confession and narrative presented in court was vastly different. Then the prosecution got lucky, when Jason Autry had agreed to testify against Zach in exchange for leniency.
The death of a suspect, multiple changes to the prosecutorial team, a cop thrown off the case, and disputes with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation slowed down the case significantly. Not only that, but the prosecution seemingly refused to produce evidence against the defendants and missed multiple discovery deadlines during the process. They wanted justice for Holly…but how could they get it by going about things in such a wrong-footed way…
The problem was that, even though the evidence was discovered in 2014 and the men arrested around the same time, they were not allowed to see the evidence against them until 2015. Meanwhile, some of them languished in jail, some were released on bail, and one of them committed suicide.
Finally, on September 22, 2017, Zach Adams was found guilty on all charges, including first-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison plus 50 years. His brother Dylan, whose confession led to all the others, accepted a guilty plea that allows him to maintain his innocence as well but saw him serving 35 years in prison. Both men have since maintained that they were innocent of the crime and say the real killer is still out there…
Zach’s defense attorney, Jennifer Thompson, alleges that the first suspect, one Terry Britt, a former sex offender, who was convicted of three separate rapes and is serving time in prison, is the real culprit. She says that Britt was that “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…”
Tribute to Holly
In 2017, country singer Whitney Duncan, who was Holly’s cousin, released a song called “Better Place” in memory of her. It’s a heartfelt and lyrically rich tribute to the pain and the cousin that she lost so many years ago. Hopefully, with her killers behind bars, Holly can finally rest in peace.