You are listening to: The Evidence Locker.
Our cases have been researched using open source and archive materials. It deals with true crimes and real people. Each episode is produced with the utmost respect to the victims, their families and loved ones.
On Wednesday morning, the 13th of April 2011, Holly Bobo woke up at 4:30am to study for a nursing exam. It was essential to do well: she took her studies very seriously – every test was a big test for Holly. And the test on this particular morning was no different.
At 05:30 her Dad, Dana, was about to leave for work at McKenzie Tree Service in Parsons, Tennessee. He stood outside Holly’s door and asked if she needed some money for fuel or lunch. She answered with a simple ‘yes thanks’. Dana said goodbye, left the money on the bar and left for work.
Holly texted her friend, Hannah Reece, who was also taking the test that morning as she moved from her bedroom to the kitchen table. The friends sent a couple of texts to each other, mainly discussing the upcoming exam.
Holly’s mom, Karen, passed her brother Clint’s room. Clint was still sleeping, and she closed the door because she knew Holly was studying and didn’t want to wake Clint who was planning on getting up later to work on a paper for his social studies degree at UTM.
Karen proceeded to the kitchen to make Holly a packed lunch and popped some berry muffins into the microwave for her and Holly to have for breakfast as she did every morning. Mother and daughter were very close, so close they were known to finish each other’s sentences. They treasured moments like these in which they could spend a little bit of time together, as they were both pretty busy most of the time.
At 06:30, Karen said goodbye to Holly at the kitchen table and left for work. She was as a teacher at Scotts Hill Elementary School, about a 25-minute drive away.
Clint woke up at 07:50 when he heard the dog barking. Still half asleep, he went over to the window and lifted the blinds to see what was going on. He could make out the silhouette of two figures in the adjoining carport-garage: Holly and a man dressed in camouflage hunting gear.
His mother called, in a panic and told him to get a gun and shoot the man. Clint had assumed Holly was speaking to her boyfriend and was confused about his mother’s instruction. Clint looked out the kitchen door and saw Holly and the unidentified man dressed in camo clothing walk into the woods behind their house. Holly was never seen alive again.
The events of that day brought the community of Parsons to their knees and scarred it forever.
Holly Lynn Bobo was born on the 12th of October 1990. She lived in Parsons, Decatur County, Tennessee with her parents, Dana and Karen Bobo and her older brother, Clint.
Parsons is a small, rural town of 2,500 people in Western Tennessee, about 100 miles North East from Memphis. In Parsons, most people know each other. People go to church together, their kids go to school together, and they play sports together. It’s a place where people know each other’s first names and always have time to stop for a chat when they go into town.
Located in the heart of America’s Bible Belt, religion plays a pivotal role in the lives of locals. Families have their regular pew at Sunday services and the community pray and socialise together every Sunday.
Holly was a bright and beautiful young girl who was very well-liked by everyone who knew her. Her friends at Scott’s Hill High School loved hanging out with her and knew they could always count on her, whether it was for a good laugh or a shoulder to cry on.
Holly was very active at Corinth Baptist Church where she sang in the choir. She was always the first to volunteer to put up the church Christmas tree every year. People loved hearing Holly’s sweet voice at church - it was her job to sing the last song before the sermon started.
It was no surprise to family and friends when Holly decided to study nursing because of her compassionate and caring nature.
By 2011, 20-year old Holly was studying to be a nurse, while living at home. The Bobo family was close, and they all enjoyed watching American Idol together. The family dog, a shih-tzu−poodle mix named Rascal, always waited for Holly to come home and play with him after school.
Holly had many friends and had started seeing a local young man by the name of Drew Scott. To everyone who knew the couple, it looked like the real thing, and everyone felt that they would get married. They often went on double dates with Holly’s brother, Clint – they were all good friends.
In a small town like Parsons, there isn’t all that much entertainment, but they didn’t need it. They would go to the movies or have dinner. But the best times were when they were all outdoors, riding four-wheelers.
On Wednesday morning, April 13th 2011, Holly was wrapping up her last-minute test revision when Drew called just after 07am. He was out turkey hunting on Holly’s grandmother’s farm nearby and was approached by a relative of Holly’s asking him if he had permission to hunt there. He called Holly to inform her about the situation, in case he was stopped again or in case somebody called Holly’s family. A couple of phone calls ensued between Drew, Holly and Karen about the issue. Then Drew wished Holly good luck for her exam and hung up. After the call, Holly got her things ready to leave, so that she could arrive at UTM Parsons before 8am, in time for her exam.
At 07:40, a neighbour walking to his car heard a gut-wrenching scream. He immediately knew something was wrong and rushed back inside to tell his mother, who then tried to reach Karen Bobo on her cell phone at 07:45. Karen was in the school cafeteria at the time and missed the call, but the neighbour persisted and called the school. When she finally got a hold of Karen, she told her about the scream.
Back at the Bobo residence, Rascal’s barking woke Clint. He looked out the window and saw Holly and a man in the garage. Holly’s car didn’t always start, and he assumed it was Drew who had come to give her a jump. This description from Clint’s statement:
“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?’”
Karen called home and spoke to Clint. Clint mentioned that Holly’s Mustang was still in the garage. Karen immediately knew something was wrong: Holly should have left for her exam already. Clint asked if Holly was going hunting with Drew because Drew was there with her. Karen, knowing Drew was already out hunting at their family farm that morning, said:
“Clint, that’s not Drew. Get a gun and shoot him.”
To which Clint reportedly replied:
“You want me to shoot Drew?”
…still confused, thinking Holly was just talking to her boyfriend. Karen hung up and immediately called 911. Unfortunately, because she was calling from work in Scott’s Hill, she reached dispatch in the wrong county and valuable time was lost.
Clint looked out the kitchen door and saw Holly and the man in camoulflage walk into the woods. Now that they were walking side by side, he could see that the man was about 5 foot 10 inches to 6 feet tall, weighing around 200 pounds. They carried on walking and went down a four-wheeler path in the nearby woods.
Concerned, Clint called Holly’s cell phone, but she didn’t answer. Grasping at straws, he called Drew who also didn’t answer.
At this point, Karen called the house again, and Clint told her what he had seen. She urged him to call 911, but in the stress and confusion of the situation, he resisted, wanting to believe that the man he had seen with Holly was her boyfriend, Drew. He didn’t want to call 911 to tell them his sister and her boyfriend were having a fight. Instead, he went outside and looked for them. He did listen to his mother’s instructions and took a loaded pistol with him. When he reached the garage, he saw blood on the floor. Being turkey hunting season and still hoping that it was Drew who was with Holly after his morning hunt, he believed it to be blood from a dead turkey. When he could not see Holly and the man in the woods anymore, he called 911.
Karen called Dana, and both of them rushed home. When they arrived, they found Clint and police already looking for Holly. Police had arrived at the scene almost immediately after Clint’s 911 call as they had already been notified of the situation by the same neighbour who had called Karen. There was no sign of Holly or the man dressed in camo.
Karen Bobo was desperate to find her daughter and urged police to send out an Amber Alert. An Amber Alert activates an urgent bulletin to be sent to law enforcement agencies, broadcasters, transport agencies and the wireless industry if a child has been abducted. Strictly speaking, the kidnapped person has to be 17 or younger, so Karen lied at first and said that Holly was 17. Social media posts started circulating with the heading ‘Amber Alert’, and the community was mobilised.
Word of Holly’s kidnapping spread like wildfire, and the people of Parsons were shocked that something like this could happen in their small community. Volunteers came to the scene on horseback, all-terrain vehicles and even on foot. Everyone was looking for the blonde girl wearing a pink T-shirt and light blue jeans and the man wearing camo. Bear in mind: Turkey hunting season had kicked off just over a week before and wearing camo clothes was not uncommon in Decatur County at that time of year.
A long driveway leads you to the Bobo’s residence. It is on a sizeable plot of land with a single-story house, surrounded by woods. There aren’t many roads leading in or out of this rural part of Western Tennessee. The Bobo’s also urged the police to set up roadblocks, as the paths in the area are windy and access is limited. However, police proceeded to set up the scene and insisted on waiting for sniffer dogs to arrive before they followed Holly’s trail unassisted.
The vast amount of volunteers who showed up were not trained searchers and police were concerned that vital evidence was to be compromised by the sheer volume of people moving around the scene of the abduction. It took about two hours after Clint last saw Holly walk into the woods for law enforcement to organise the searchers.
In the woods behind the Bobo’s house, the sniffer dog picked up a trail, but it went cold when he reached a logging road. This indicated that Holly was most likely led to a car and then taken away. To get to or from the Bobo residence using the logging road, you’d have to be intimately familiar with the area. Most roads are narrow rural lanes, that circle around before they join up with either Highway 412 to the South or Highway 40 to the North.
The police have been criticised about their immediate actions. People felt if they had blocked the roads in the surrounding area, they would most likely have stopped the car transporting Holly away from her home. But they didn’t. And by the time the search was organised, there was no trace of Holly.
Searching for clues around the house, investigators found a fresh footprint. It was made by someone wearing Croc shoes, possibly the abductor, as none of the Bobo’s owned Crocs. A volunteer found duct tape with a blonde hair stuck to it on the road in front of Holly’s house – the opposite side to where she vanished from, but authorities could never confirm whether it was related to Holly’s abduction or not.
The blood on the garage floor was confirmed to be Holly’s blood. The urgency to find the injured and abducted 20-year-old intensified.
Clint Bobo, being the only eye witness to the abduction, was taken into police custody for close to 17 hours of questioning. He was examined for forensic evidence, and some reports mention that he was strip-searched. He took a polygraph, which he passed. He was also hypnotised to see if his recollection could yield any more information.
As bizarre and contradictory as his story seemed, Clint was being honest and co-operated in any way he could. He was desperate to find his sister.
Holly’s boyfriend, Drew, had been hunting in a nearby county with his dad and showed up for work as usual at 08:00am. He could not possibly have been near the Bobo residence on the morning of the abduction. Later cell phone evidence and Holly’s family member who saw Drew on the grandmother’s property would back up Drew’s whereabouts that morning. Police did not feel that he had anything to do with Holly’s abduction.
By midnight there was still no sign of Holly, and the Bobo’s settled in for the first of many sleepless nights to follow. In fact, the search for Holly would continue for another gruelling three and a half years.
Within days of Holly’s abduction, the town of Parsons was swarming with media. Reports and misinformation turned the search into a media circus. The issue of whether Holly was ‘dragged into the woods’ or ‘forcibly led into the woods’ was debated on national news channels. Clint confirmed that she walked alongside the man. He led her away, she presumably complied because he threatened her with a weapon.
The media also sensationalised the fact that Holly’s cousin was a famous country and Western singer, Whitney Duncan. Whitney used her public profile and social media presence to raise awareness for the search. In the days following Holly’s disappearance, she tweeted:
“Lord have mercy. I feel like I’m walking in a nightmare. Thanks for all the prayers and please keep spreading the amber alert.”
She also thanked the hundreds of searchers who volunteered every day. Holly’s mom, Karen Bobo also spoke to the press, crying with her husband by her side, made a desperate plea for information about Holly’s whereabouts. Dana Bobo also spoke and said that he had the sense that Holly’s abductor was someone familiar to her, someone, who knew her routine. He believed this person knew that she would be outside the house, by herself at that time of the morning and that her parents would not be home.
Law enforcement had no idea who could have taken Holly. They needed to amp up the investigation, so they could find her, hopefully alive.
The FBI and the US Marshalls supported the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) and the Decatur County Sherriff’s Office in the investigation which would become the most exhaustive and expensive in TBI history.
Typically, in an abduction case of this nature, the FBI would only get involved once there is concern that the victim has been taken across state lines, making it a federal crime. However, in Holly’s case, even though investigators felt Holly was in the close vicinity, the FBI was involved from day one. They assisted the TBI with resources such as profiling and analysis of possible evidence. The US Marshals assisted in ground searches and following up leads.
Within a week of her disappearance, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam raised the reward of $25 000 to $75 000 for any information leading to Holly’s safe return. It was eventually raised to $250 000 in February of 2014.
TBI director, Mark Gwyn, said he believed that the abductor was local to the area because he clearly knew his way around the rough terrain surrounding the Bobo’s property.
“We feel like the person that’s responsible for Holly Bobo’s disappearance lives in this area. Just because of the terrain and where she was abducted from. You would have to know where you were going – the entrances, the exits – in order to do this. We feel like the person is right here in the community.”
People took law enforcement’s statements to heart and wondered if the man who took Holly could, in fact, be one of their own. One week into the investigation police had received over 200 leads and every single one was considered. Although calls came from all over the country, authorities had no reason to believe that Holly ever crossed state lines. They strongly felt that she was still somewhere in West Tennessee.
The search continued in full force. Rough weather: rain, wind and the forecast of tornados hindered the search for Holly and any evidence in the first week. But that did not deter searchers. Hundreds of people signed up at the command centre at the Decatur County Fairgrounds to volunteer in the search for Holly. They left no stone unturned. The community took this incident personally. From Nashville, Pastor Dale Robble’s thoughts reflected the feelings of the whole community:
“It could be my daughter. It could be my family. It could be your family. They didn’t go looking for this. Evil found them.”
Tight-knit and God-fearing as most of the people in Parsons were, there was another side to this area that could not be ignored. Methamphetamine use was on the rise, and with it, it brought many problems: drug trading, theft, assault and damage to property.
At the time of Holly’s disappearance, some rumours were going around in Parsons about Holly being caught up in a situation related to drugs. Unsubstantiated stories placed Holly at a house on Anglin Street in Scott’s Hill a week before her disappearance. This house was under surveillance for drug activity. As the rumour goes, Holly was working with the TBI as a confidential informant on a sting, wearing a wire.
From here the stories split into two different theories: the first one believes that the man who abducted Holly was a DEA agent who took her into protective custody.
The second version of this rumour believes that because Holly was helping law enforcement, she was found out as a snitch and taken by local drug dealers. People who believed in this theory also felt that it explained why Karen was so quick to tell Clint to shoot the man with Holly. Perhaps she knew Holly was working with law enforcement and was in imminent danger. Online sleuths also speculated if that was the reason why the FBI was involved from Day 1 – was Holly working for them?
None of these stories could ever be proven. Someone like Holly, an openly All American church-going girl would stick out like a sore thumb in a drug house. There is no logical reason why law enforcement would use her as an informant, putting her so obviously in harm’s way. It just added more confusion and frustration in the desperate effort to find Holly alive.
Clint’s actions of this morning were questioned by many people in the months and years to follow. Inconsistencies in him believing it was Drew, yet describing someone much taller and bigger made people wonder. His reluctance to take action could have prevented Holly from being taken into the woods.
Clint’s observations and actions do raise questions: why didn’t he run into the woods after them? Why didn’t he open the window and ask “Is everything okay out there?” Why did he take so long to call 9-1-1? No doubt, these are questions that will haunt Clint forever. The fact is, he had just woken up. He wasn’t expecting to be awakened by his sister and an abductor. He had a quick look and thought the figure kneeling down with Holly was her boyfriend breaking up with her, there was no reason for him to poke his nose in their business.
Remember, Clint was 25 at the time, living in a town where this kind of crime never really happened. Especially not to a hardworking, church-going family like the Bobos. So when his mother called with frantic instructions, he didn’t jump into gun-wielding action right away. It’s safe to say he certainly wasn’t the first young man to NOT take a call from his stressed-out mom seriously. Had he known his sister was in danger, he would have jumped on it.
One week after Holly’s disappearance, on April 20th, the community of Parsons held a candlelight vigil. The whole community, over 2000 people, showed up in a sea of pink T-shirts, printed to raise awareness for Holly. As the thunderstorm rolled in, it knocked out the power, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of the community. The vigil continued as they sang “Amazing Grace” and other gospel songs in honour of Holly.
On Easter Sunday, when Holly had been missing for 11 days, a group of volunteer searchers from her church searched the area next to busy Highway 641, North of Parsons. On some grass in an open drain, they found Holly’s cell phone. This area had been searched previously, and investigators found it hard to believe that volunteer searchers would have missed such an important piece of evidence. They felt the phone was placed there. After days of wind and rain, the phone was unscathed and in working order.
Soon after the discovery of Holly’s phone, the sim card was found about a mile away, on the other side of the highway. The strange thing about the sim card was that all her contacts’ names were on it, but the numbers had been deleted. Someone went through a lot of effort to delete the numbers manually. It was unclear why they would do this: was Holly forced to delete everything by her abductor? Did the abductor delete it? And why? It did not make any sense.
The community never gave up on the search for Holly. The main street of Parsons was adorned with pink and green ribbons, Holly’s favourite colours, to remind people about Holly. People wore T-shirts, buttons, bracelets and even advertised her kidnapping on their personal vehicles.
Police looked into Holly’s background, to see if there was perhaps someone who had a motive for taking her. One of those leads was about Holly’s ex-boyfriend, Blake Barnett. Holly’s friends mentioned that their break-up was not amicable. An unsubstantiated report said that Holly had taken out a restraining order against him in the months leading up to her kidnapping. He was also similar in appearance to Holly’s boyfriend, Drew, which could explain Clint’s confusion if he saw a glimpse of them together initially.
In a curious turn of events, Barnett was arrested in Decatur County for a domestic assault and kidnapping of his girlfriend three years after Holly’s kidnapping. However, the police made it clear that he was not a suspect.
When private investigator Sheila Wysocki asked for the family’s blessing to look into Holly’s case, they agreed. Sheila is a mother-turned-investigator after solving the 26-year old cold case of her college roommate. She founded a non-profit organisation, Without Warning.
Karen Bobo and the Without Warning team used information from Holly’s cell phone to draw up a ‘ping’ map which shows hits from Holly’s phone shortly after her abduction. The route Holly and her abductor took was purposeful and followed little known backroads through the woods. The Without Warning team confirmed what police already knew: the person who had taken Holly had to be someone local.
In February 2014 the community was desperate for answers. In this time, the name Zachary Rye Adams came on law enforcement’s radar, connecting him to Holly’s case. This tip sent the investigation in a whole new direction.
Zach’s brother, Dylan Adams, implicated Zach when he told police that he saw Holly Bobo at his brother’s house, in the living room, on the day she was kidnapped. He claimed she wasn’t upset and everything seemed OK, but that Zach had warned him not to tell anyone that she was there. Zach was wearing camouflage shorts and Croc shoes. Remember: a Croc shoe print was left at the scene of Holly’s abduction, next to the carport. Dylan revealed more and said Zach had tied Holly up, raped her and videotaped the whole thing. In his statement, he mentioned that Zach’s friend, Jason Autry, was there too, “standing just a few feet away”.
It is unclear why Dylan chose to implicate his brother in Holly’s case. His mother strongly believes the statement was coerced and that Dylan said what investigators wanted to hear. But who is Zach, and why would the TBI take Dylan’s accusation seriously?
Zach Adams was born on the 7th of June 1986 and lived most of his life in Decatur County, Tennessee. Zach was a straight-A student who excelled at sports and had many friends. He was close to his little brother Dylan, and they had a happy childhood. Dylan was a kind person, a people pleaser with a low IQ and learning difficulties.
Their parents, Timothy and Cindy Adams, divorced when Zach was a teenager. Zach struggled tremendously to come to terms with his parents’ divorce and started using drugs to cope. Childhood friend, Danielle Darnell, said Zach changed after he began using drugs, he was no longer the same person.
His run-ins with the law began in 2002 when he was arrested for drug possession. In the following years, he was charged with more drug-related charges and various assault charges. In total, his arrest record was 13 pages long. Most of these assaults were on female victims. One charge was related to cooking and selling methamphetamine. He was charged with the kidnapping of Holly Bobo together with his friend, Jason Autry.
The Adams brothers, Autry and another friend, Shayne Austin, were known by locals in Decatur County as The A-Train, because of all their surnames beginning with the letter A. They were rumoured to hang out together and get into trouble all the time.
When Zach was 19 years old, on the 7th of February 2004, he had an argument with his mother at their house. He wanted more money for drugs, and she refused to give him any. His stepfather, Joseph King, was in the backroom and heard a gunshot. When Joseph reached Cindy, she was sitting in a pool of blood. Zach had shot her point-blank with a 9mm Glock. Cindy didn’t want to press charges, doing what she had done many times before and covered for Zach.
But after the shooting, his stepfather had had enough. King took out a restraining order against Zach. Zach ignored the order and kept on coming back home to taunt his family. Zach’s violent and erratic behaviour put a lot of pressure on his mom’s marriage, causing King to leave, ending it.
In another incident in 2005, Zach Adams’ grandfather, Dick Adams, who lived on the same rural plot as Zach in Holladay, called 911 for help:
“It’s Zachary. He’s wild again. He’s choked me, he choked me and put his hands on me. You’d better get an officer out here quick.”
Zach was arrested and charged with domestic assault as well as possession of meth and drug paraphernalia.
The arrest that landed him in jail on the 28th of February 2014 with a $1M bond was another assault charge. Amber Bray, the sister of Zach Adams’ girlfriend, said that he held a gun to her head and threatened to kill her. Bray said he also pulled a knife and threatened to gut her. Trisha Evans, his girlfriend, came forward, supporting Zach in saying her sister had fabricated the whole story because she was jealous of Adams’ relationship with her.
On the same day Zach was put behind bars, law enforcement descended on his property at 235 Adam’s Lane in Holladay, about 14 miles North of the Bobo’s home. He lived in a house on a rural plot in one of two houses, the other one was his grandfather, Dick’s, house.
A gaggle of reporters camped outside and witnessed the extensive search. Cadaver dogs combed every inch of the property, looking for Holly’s remains. But the TBI would not release any information to the media about what was found at the property. It was rumoured that forensic investigators found a blonde hair covered in dust from a bedroom closet in Adams’ house, but the TBI refused to confirm if that was true.
Zach Adams’ social media posts helped investigators in gathering circumstantial evidence against him. Implicating himself, a suspicious Facebook post posted on the day of the kidnapping at 07:39, minutes before Clint saw Holly and her abductor walk into the woods, read:
“You know you never was, you stupid whore”.
An early-morning rant against a woman. He could have been referring to anyone, but the timing and the sentiment bring chills down your spine if you put it in context with Holly’s disappearance.
In December 2012 the award money was raised for any information that led to an arrest and conviction of anyone involved with Holly’s disappearance. Shortly after this, Zach Adams took to Facebook again and posted a photo of himself in camouflage gear and said:
“Who am I looking for?”
Remember, when Holly just went missing, thousands of people around Decatur County were looking for Holly and a man wearing camo. What was Zach Adams trying to say? Was this his idea of a joke? Nothing even remotely hinting at Holly’s disappearance would go unnoticed, and whatever was said or done, Holly’s case was no joking matter. Law enforcement was confident that they had found their guy.
The investigation was far from over. The question on everybody’s mind was: what was the link between Holly and Zach? They moved in completely different circles and the likelihood of their paths crossing, even in a small community like Parsons, was slim. The only apparent link was that Karen Bobo taught Zach Adams in elementary school, but it was a small community, and Karen taught many local kids.
Danielle Darnell, Zach’s childhood friend, said that he mentioned Holly a couple of times in the time before her abduction. Zach was at the Coon Hunt – an annual hunting festival – four days before she disappeared. Darnell claimed she’d noticed that he’d kept a keen eye on Holly all night, together with two of his friends.
“Holly was on stage and walking around the Coon Hunt, and they basically followed, stalked her a bit. Karen [Bobo] even went up and introduced herself as Holly’s mom,” Darnell said.
Investigators were already working on another lead regarding the A-train and Holly Bobo at the Coon Hunt. Candace Wood, a friend of Holly’s who was with her at the Festival, reported a creepy guy in camo who stalked her and Holly that night:
“[He had] this look like he was staring at us. I had never seen this guy before, he just kept staring at us, he had his phone in his ear and he looked down and then he looked back up at us. He’d watch for three or four seconds, then he’d look down again, and then he’d look back. He did that about four or five times. And the fourth or fifth time I just kind of got that eerie feeling, that creepy feeling that maybe he was looking at me or he was looking at Holly.”
Based on a composite sketch of this guy by the TBI, Woods said she was about 80-90% sure that man was Shayne Austin. The problem is, Austin had a visible scar across his right cheek, the composite showed no scar. Austin also had a stubble beard, which was not shown on the composite, and the hairstyles did not precisely match.
Nevertheless, Austin was a friend of Adams’, and he was at the Coon Hunt according to other witnesses. The most incriminating evidence was found on Austin’s cell phone. It showed that on the day of Holly’s disappearance, there were multiple phone calls between himself and Adams, which led investigators to believe that he helped Adams dispose of Holly’s body. Law enforcement wasted no time and took him in for questioning too.
Austin was keen to co-operate. His reason was that Zach Adams had threatened him by saying:
“I will make you disappear like I did that girl.”
Austin made a statement about a conversation that Adams had with him and various other people in a bar. According to Austin, Adams said that he had Holly chained up and had called Austin to f#ck her. Adams then said what he had done to dispose of Holly’s body after he had murdered her.
“You have to gut them so they won’t float. I put her by the rock with the orange T [painted on it] in the river. They’ll never find her there. No body, no crime.”
Austin’s statement ended with him saying that he never believed that Adams killed Holly and that he was simply telling crazy stories at a bar. To contradict Adams’ bar-story, Austin went on to provide Adams with an alibi of sorts for the morning of Holly’s disappearance. He said – for the record – that he went into Parsons with Zach and Dylan Adams to purchase drugs, Xanax Bars to be exact, that morning.
Almost two months after Zach Adams’ arrest, on the 29th of April, Zach’s friend, Jason Wayne Autry, was also indicted for especially aggravated kidnapping and first-degree felony murder of Holly Bobo. He was already in prison for another assault at the time of his indictment. The only evidence implicating him in this crime was Dylan Adams’ statement, which placed Autry at the Adams’ home on the day of Holly’s abduction. From the start Autry has been very vocal about his innocence in the Holly Bobo case. In an interview with Nashville News Channel 5, Autry said:
“I’m a drug addict and a thief, but I am not a killer. Right hand before God The Father, Son and Holy Ghost: I did not bother that girl in no form or no fashion.”
On the morning of the 7th of September 2014, Larry Stone and a group of hunters were out in the woods off Country Corner Road looking for the herb, ginseng. The spot was north of Holly’s home in Darden. Stone was making his way through the woods, walking and looking for the herb that looks similar to small hickory trees. Stone, who was familiar with the area, had a sense there was something in the woods as he walked that day. He was facing the ravine near a cell phone tower when he felt the sudden urge to turn around.
What he found, was something that would change the Holly Bobo case forever. He noticed a bucket and to the side of it a skull and other skeletal remains, tucked away under the undergrowth. Stone was shaken up, and he realised that this could be Holly’s remains. He immediately called law enforcement.
Then, on Monday 8 September 2014, after searching for Holly for three and a half years, the Bobo family’s worst fears were confirmed, when the TBI announced that the remains found by Larry Stone and his hunting buddies were indeed Holly Bobo’s. Dental records aided in getting a quick result, they only had to wait one day. Although searches of the area where Holly’s body was found were conducted in the initial search, they could not see anything through the thick overgrowth of the forest. Holly was never far from home, in fact about 11 miles (or 19 kilometres) to be exact.
The TBI asked Stone and the other hunters to keep the contents of the bucket confidential, which caused wild speculation with contents ranging from gutted human intestines to the remains of a foetus. Stone had a lot of compassion for the Bobo family and set up a memorial of pink and green flowers and a cross on the site where he had found her.
With the news that Holly’s body was discovered, her boyfriend, Drew Scott finally broke his silence. He posted on a Facebook page, dedicated to Holly’s search:
“I know our sweet girl is in heaven and has seen the outpouring of love this community and the world has shown her. May God bless each and every one of you, especially Holly’s family and friends during this tragic time. Rest in peace, our sweet angel, I will love you forever.”
On Monday morning, the 23rd of February 2015, police were called to a motel room in Bartow, Florida. What they found was the body of Zach Adams’ friend and witness in Holly Bobo’s case, Shayne Austin – he had hanged himself. His attorney, Luke Evans blamed his suicide on the witch-hunt style investigation which relied mostly on rumours instead of evidence. He stated that Austin was ‘torn up’ about his connection with the Bobo case.
Although Austin was never charged, the state was looking to indict him. His suicide came amid the breach of contract lawsuit against the state. Aside from his statement to TBI, whatever else Shayne Austin knew about what happened to Holly, he took to his grave.
After working through the evidence given to them by the TBI, the prosecution felt their case was strong enough to move forward. In May of 2015, Autry and both Adams brothers were charged with an eight-count grand jury indictment that superseded their previous charges.
Zach Adams’ trial started in September 2017. The prosecution did not have any forensic evidence linking Adams to Holly’s murder, but they had a trump card: a full confession from Jason Autry. A spine-chilling account of the fate of Holly Bobo…
Autry told the court that, on the morning of Holly’s abduction, he went to Shayne Austin’s trailer to buy drugs. When he arrived, both Zach and Dylan Adams were there too. Shayne Austin was disposing of evidence in a burn barrel. Holly’s body was in a rolled-up carpet on the back of his Nissan pickup truck.
Autry agreed to help Adams dispose of her body, and they drove to an isolated location along the Tennessee River, underneath the Interstate 40. Their plan was to gut the body, to prevent it from floating to the surface. Just like the story Shayne Austin told police. But when they dragged her body off the tailgate, she moved. She was still alive.
Zach walked back to the truck, got his gun, told Autry to walk further down along the road to make sure nobody was around. Then he shot her and loaded her back onto the bed of the truck. According to Autry, they left the scene in case someone heard the gunshot. Adams dropped him off and said that he would take care of it.
They only saw each other after a couple of days, then Adams told Autry he dumped her in a park somewhere. Autry names a location different to the spot where Holly’s remains were eventually found.
Autry claimed Adams knew of Holly because, on the day of Holly’s abduction, he, Austin and Dylan went to the Bobo home to teach Clint how to cook meth. This is a claim Clint Bobo denied – he stated in court that he did not even know Zach Adams or Shayne Austin at the time.
Either way, Autry’s testimony concluded that Holly saw the three men in the driveway and, told them to go away. A scuffle ensued, and that’s when they took her away. It was then alleged that the Adams brothers and Shayne Austin took Holly to a local barn owned by Austin and Autry’s grandmother, where they raped her.
On the 22nd of September 2017, Zach Adams was found guilty on all charges: murder in the first degree, especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated rape. He was sentenced to life without parole. Dylan Adams was sentenced to 15 years for the facilitation of first-degree murder and 35 years for, especially aggravated kidnapping.
Autry remains in prison for unrelated crimes, hoping that his testimony in the case would help him avoid persecution for Holly’s murder.
Both Zach and Dylan Adams claim to be innocent. Their mother believes that Dylan was coerced into a confession and that the police took advantage of the fact that he is mentally disabled. He has been likened to Brendan Dassy, who many believe has been wrongfully convicted.
As for Zach Adams… His defence pointed out an early suspect in the case, a man called Terry Britt, had never been cleared by the TBI. He had stalked women in the past, and when accused of Holly’s kidnapping, he allegedly told a US Marshal:
“Sounds like you have it all figured out”.
However, the Bobo family feels that justice has been served. Karen Bobo addressed the jury, saying:
“I want to thank you, each and every one of you, for making the right decision.”
Holly’s cousin, Whitney Duncan wrote a song about Holly. The song, Better Place, was released on the 12th of July and all donations for this track will be given to the Holly Bobo Memorial Scholarship Fund. You can find a link in our show notes.
If you’d like to read more about this case, have a look at the resources used for this episode in the show notes.
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