On April 13, 2011, in Darden, Tennessee, 20-year-old nursing student Holly Bobo woke up at 4:30 am to study for an exam she had later that morning.
Holly’s mom, Karen Bobo, woke up a bit later and got her a muffin before packing a lunch Holly could bring to school with her. Karen then left for work at the local elementary school where she taught.
Around 7:30 am, Holly’s boyfriend, Drew Scott, called her to check in. He was hunting turkeys on her grandmother’s property nearby.
From there, Holly got ready for school as she usually did on Wednesdays and walked out to the garage around 8 am.
What happened next would remain a mystery for almost 6 years.
Holly’s 25-year-old brother Clint was startled awake by the family’s dog barking. He peered through his blinds and saw a man dressed in camouflage talking to Holly. He assumed it was her boyfriend. They appeared to be having an argument and possibly breaking up. He couldn’t hear what was being said, but it looked like Holly was saying “no” and “why”. He decided to mind his own business and stay out of it.
At this same time, a neighbor heard screams and called Holly’s mother at work.
Clint got a call from his mother who asked him to check on Holly. He told her he saw Holly walking toward the woods behind their home with Drew.
Karen tells Clint that wasn’t Drew and to get a gun and shoot him.
Confused, Clint asks “You want me to shoot Drew?” but before he got an answer, Karen hung up and called 9-1-1.
Clint went outside and saw blood in their driveway. A neighbor pulled up and told him they heard screaming, which prompted Clint to call 9-1-1, as well.
A friend from work drove Karen home and she immediately saw the blood. She ran to the woods and started yelling for Holly, but there was no sign of her.
She grabbed Clint and shook him, screaming “WHY DIDN’T YOU DO SOMETHING?”
Holly’s father, Dana Bobo, was at work but rushed home once he was informed Holly was missing.
Law enforcement arrived and began canvassing the area for clues immediately. Suspicion turned to Clint right away. Police asked him to remove his shirt to check for scratches or anything else that could indicate he was the one who went into the woods with Holly.
There was no Amber Alert issued for Holly because of her age. At 20 years old, Holly didn’t meet the criteria of being under the age of 18.
Thursday, April 14, 2011 – 1 day since Holly was taken
The next day, 300-400 people searched for Holly. Scent dogs, helicopters, ATVs and horses were used to search the woods surrounding the Bobo’s home.
It was initially believed Holly may have been taken during what was meant to be a home invasion, but the suspect never made it inside.
In an interview with NBC, Holly’s parents pleaded for help from the public. Her father said he believed she was taken by someone who knew their daily routine since Holly normally left around that time for class on Wednesdays.
Karen said through sobs, “Holly, I love you so much… She’s just so precious, you don’t even know.”
Friday, April 15, 2011 – 2 days since Holly was taken
8 miles from the Bobo home, searchers made a grim discovery. Holly’s lunch box and other personal belongings of hers were found in a creek.
There were no suspects at this time, but both Clint and Drew were cleared by police.
A $25,000 reward is offered for any information that led to Holly’s safe return.
At a press conference, John Mehr, a spokesperson for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said investigators “did not see drag marks” leading toward the woods, which led them to believe Holly complied with her attacker and walked into the woods. He said “We believe he actually had her arm, holding her. We feel she was in fear for her life, so she was complying.”
Saturday, April 16, 2011 -3 days since Holly was taken
As the search continued, on April 16, 2011, investigators described Holly’s abductor as between 5’10” and 6’ tall, weighing between 180-200 lbs.
Monday, April 18, 2011 – 4 days since Holly was taken
Bill Haslam, the Governor of Tennessee, tripled the reward for information leading to Holly’s safe return, making the total $75,000.
At this point, police had received 250 leads, but still didn’t have a person of interest. They asked the public to report any suspicious behavior such as a person calling in sick to work over the past week, someone excessively cleaning a car or ATV or unexpectedly selling a vehicle.
Police continued interviewing neighbors and boats searched local waterways while volunteers covered the Natchez Trace, a national hiking trail. More than 900 people were involved in the search for Holly at this point.
Besides the items found in the creek, police were analyzing the blood found in the garage, along with duct tape that had blonde hair stuck to it that was found on the ground nearby.
Police also seem to back track on their statement about Clint and Drew being cleared saying they hadn’t ruled anyone out as a suspect yet. At this point, people were generally suspicious of Holly’s brother, Clint, since he basically watched her get abducted and did nothing.
April 23, 2011 – 9 days since Holly was taken.
The search for Holly continued through April, but by the end of the month things started to slow down. At this point, volunteers had searched nearly all of Decatur County, including lakes and waterways.
Investigation/ Possible Suspects at This Point
- A registered sex offender in the area named Terry Britt was looked at as a suspect. He had a history of stalking and raping women. His home was wiretapped and searched during the investigation, but he had an alibi and police couldn’t find any evidence against him.
- In January 2012, a man named Tony Calabrese and his roommate had their Ohio apartment searched by the TBI and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. A computer was seized along with other belongings. Tony Calbrese wasn’t a suspect in Holly’s disappearance. He was actually being investigated for hindering the investigation by soliciting leads and portraying himself as the leader of a search and rescue team. He even set up a website featuring photos of Holly to solicit leads and claimed to pass them to law enforcement. The TBI said he was drawing attention away from their investigation. Tony Calabrese never traveled to Tennessee to help search for Holly, but claimed to have dispatched others to do so.
In February 2012, 10 months after Holly had disappeared, the TBI offered $85,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for Holly’s abduction. This is on top of the reward raised by the community which now amounted to $250,000 for Holly’s safe return.
From here, not much happens …. Until there is finally a break in the case on February 28, 2014 – almost 3 years since Holly was last seen.
February 28, 2014
15 miles from Holly’s home, a residence at 235 Adams Lane in Decatur County was swarmed by the TBI. This is where 29-year-old Zach Adams lived. Neighbors told reporters Zach’s truck and his mother’s PT Cruiser were being searched.
Decatur County authorities arrested Zach on unrelated assault charges stemming from a February 6 incident where he held a gun to his girlfriend’s sister’s head and threatened to “gut” her.
On top of that, Zach had just bonded out of jail after being arrested in another county on drug charges.
That day, the TBI held a press conference.
Some background info on Zach Adams:
Zach has an extensive criminal history.
- In 2002, when he was 18 years old, he was arrested for drug possession and driving infractions.
- In 2004, he was arrested for aggravated domestic assault after shooting his mom in the knee with a 9mm. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 11 months and 29 days in jail. 6 months of that sentence was suspended and he was ordered to go to rehab.
- In 2005, he was arrested for threatening to shoot his grandparents with a shotgun.
- In 2007, he was arrested for theft of property and tested positive for marijuana and methamphetamine.
- On April 4th 2011, nine days before Holly disappeared, rangers in Natchez Trace State Park arrested him on charges of fabricating/ tampering with evidence, assault on an officer, drug possession and resisting arrest.
- In June 2011, he was arrested for driving with a revoked/ suspended license in Decatur County.
On December 14, 2011, Zach posted a photo of himself wearing camo in the woods with the caption “who am I looking for?” seemingly mocking the search for Holly.
The search of the Adams’ property lasted several days. Shovels, metal probes and an excavator was used to search the grounds along with cadaver dogs and underwater cameras
Danielle Darnell, who lives in the area, says she and Holly’s mother saw three men acting strangely one week before Holly disappeared. She said she had known Zach her whole life and that he and two of his friends were following Holly at a coon hunt dinner.
She said, “Holly was on stage walking around the coon hunt. They basically stalked her a little bit.”
Holly’s friend Candace Wood said she was at the coon hunt with Holly on April 9, 2011. She remembers a man with a heavy build wearing camouflage staring at them frequently. He was on the phone and would look down whenever she caught him looking.
With Candace’s help, police drew a sketch of the man who Candace would later realize was Shayne Austin.
March 4, 2014
After searching Zach’s home, evidence was presented to a special grand jury. Investigators collected evidence from several locations over the weekend. After a 2 hour deliberation behind closed doors, the jury indicted the 29 year old for especially aggravated kidnapping and felony first degree murder. Investigators would not say what evidence was presented to the jury, nor would they comment on the status of Holly Bobo’s remains.
March 5th, 2014
The next day, Zach Adam’s indictment was made public by the TBI.
Here is a clip of Mark Gwyn, the director of the TBI, announcing the charges.
A law enforcement official at the press conference said “We believe we can prove she was taken forcefully from her home without consent. We also feel she was killed in the perpetration of the kidnapping, this we have a charge of felony murder.” Authorities did not rule out making other arrests and did not reveal if Holly’s remains were found at that time.
Not shockingly, Zach pled not guilty to the kidnapping and murder of Holly – but another charge was added – witness coercion. Witness coercion is when threats, intimidation or some other form of force are used to pressure a witness to testify falsely, withhold information, or elude the judicial process and is considered a felony.
Zach threatened his brother, Dylan Adams, who was serving time in prison for federal firearms charges at the time. According to the TBI, Zach tried to pass a message from his Chester County jail cell to his brother’s jail cell in Obion County. Zach told a fellow inmate, who he believed was being transferred to Obion, to pass his message along. Instead, the inmate told investigators.
The message was “Tell my brother he is the one who started all this shit and if he don’t shut his mouth, he will be in the hole beside her.”
In response to the new charges, Mark Gwyn, director of the TBI said, “We will not tolerate any kind of coercion in criminal cases, but in a case like this, which has attracted so much interest and required so many resources, rest assured we will fight hard to protect the integrity of our work, as we seek justice for the family and friends of Holly Bobo.”
When Dylan was arrested in September 2013, he told police he witnessed Holly alive with his brother at Zach’s home following her abduction. An affidavit for a search warrant states that Dylan told authorities that on April 13, 2011, he went to Zach’s residence to get his truck. Dylan said he observed Holly Lynn Bobo sitting in a green chair in the living room wearing a pink t-shirt with Jason Autry standing just a few feet away.” He also told police Zach was wearing camouflage shorts, a black cut-off-sleeve t-shirt and a pair of green Crocs. He said Zach told him “he raped Holly and videotaped it.”
The alleged videotape has never been found and Dylan eventually recants his confession, saying he was coerced by investigators, but his confession is what led to the arrests of Zach Adams and their friends, Jason Autry and Shayne Austin.
On Sunday, September 7, Holly’s partial remains were found by ginseng hunters in a wooded area of northern Decatur County, Tennessee, just off I-40, nearly 20 miles from Darden and less than 6 miles from Zach Adam’s property.
The owner of the property said it wasn’t uncommon for people to hunt there without permission.
Larry Stone, one of the men who found the remains said he saw a large bucket in the woods. He looked inside and whatever he saw gave him “cold chills,” but never said what was in the bucket. He then turned around and spotted Holly’s remains spread on the ground behind him. All that was recovered was her skull – including her jaw, teeth, several ribs, and one shoulder blade.
Here’s a clip of Larry speaking with News Channel 5:
Ultimately, six men were arrested in connection with Holly’s disappearance. After Zach was arrested, his brother Dylan Adams and their friends Shayne Austin and Jason Autry were also charged.
Dylan was charged by the TBI with tampering with evidence. The warrant for his arrest said “On September 17, 2014 this agent heard Dylan Adams tell another agent with the TBI that on April 13, 2011, Dylan Adams disposed of items he knew possessed evidentiary value relating to Holly Bobo.”
On August 29, 2014, 39-year-old, Jason Autry, who was already in jail serving a 3 year sentence for aggravated assault, was indicted on aggravated kidnapping and murder charges. TBI director, Mark Gwyn said, “We have sworn statements from witnesses that saw Holly in the presence of Autry and Adams.” He also said they obtained physical evidence that was being analyzed.
The next day. Jason pled not guilty to those charges.
In July 2017, Jason would be granted federal immunity along with Victor Dinsmore and a man named Michael Alexander in relation to the death of Holly in exchange for their testimonies against Zach at trial.
Shayne Austin wasn’t actually arrested but was thought to be involved. He was initially offered immunity in exchange for information regarding the location of Holly’s remains. Phone records indicated that Shayne spoke with Zach several times the day Holly was abducted and police believed he helped dispose of her body. The agreement was withdrawn when investigators believed he wasn’t being truthful.
Nothing else came from this because on February 27, 2015, he took his own life by hanging himself in a Bartow, Florida hotel room.
MARK & JEFFREY PEARCY:
On May 29th, 2014, brothers Mark and Jeffrey Pearcy, who are 38 and 42 years old, were charged with tampering with evidence and accessory after the fact. They were arrested based on allegations made by Jeff’s former roommate, Sandra King, who alleged that in May, 2014, Jeff showed her part of a video showing Zach assaulting Holly, who was tied up and crying. She said she watched only a small clip and didn’t see the sexual assault. Police arranged for Sandra to make a recorded call to Jeff where she told him over the phone “that video of Holly, if it had been you, I would have watched it. To which he replied, “I know.” Sandra alleged that Mark is the one who shot the video.
During the trial, Sandra testified that she asked to see the video, which was on a cell phone and that she was able to identify Holly and Zach through photos she had seen of them in the news. She said when Jeff showed her the video, he called Zach a “sick bastard.”
Both brothers denied that a video existed. Jeff claimed he was unable to hear Sandra during the phone conversation and that his ex-wife’s name is Holly so he was confused.
Police have analyzed over 20 phones but have not found the video. Charges against both men were subsequently dropped.
May 2017 –
The prosecution submits a gun they found into evidence as the murder weapon. Not much was known about the gun at this time.
Burt Scott Stagg’s “Remembering Holly Bobo”
“Today your Facebook feed will most likely be flooded with stories of the kidnapping and tragic death of Holly Bobo. That event happened six years ago today in Darden, Tennessee, and for the most part, life for an entire county has never been the same.
To those people, she is not just a missing poster or ribbons.
As many of you know, I’ve been covering this case in depth. Today, I want to do something different. I refuse to talk about the men accused of committing those atrocious acts. I will not speak of the death of Holly Bobo; instead, I’m going to focus on her life.
By all accounts from the people that knew her best, Holly loved God, church, family, her friends, and her boyfriend Drew. She was also said to be fiercely loyal to her friends and family.
As I’ve gotten closer to the people that actually knew Holly, one thing is often said to me, I wish you had gotten to meet her. “You would have loved her,” is what they say, with a big smile. They will also tell you that she was quiet at first but once she got to know you, she was loud, bubbly, and really funny.
When Holly was little, her family went on an outing to Rock City in East Tennessee. When they went in a cave on a tour, Holly said really loud, “oh Mama when I grow up this is where I want to live; in this castle with diamonds.”
Shelia Scott, the mother of Holly’s boyfriend Drew, told me of more memories than there are time to write. One of her favorites was watching her son teach Holly how to drive a stick shift. Another was while Holly was studying for a test that she and Drew would want brownies and ice cream. She will tell you of the love between her son and Holly. When you talk to Shelia about Holly, you see a smile, with a touch of sadness, but the memories pour out and the smile says it all.
A lot of you have viewed the videos of Holly singing at church or in the car with friends. She would also do this with her mother; one of her favorites to sing was “I’ll fly away.”
One of Holly’s best friends, Mary Beth Helms, told me “Holly and I used to sing together, with another friend of ours. During our senior year, we went to Beta Convention in Nashville and sang in the competition. We had a really good time, and we shopped and went to a movie, and one night, we walked around the hotel, talking to people in British accents. We tried to get people to believe that we were British, and we thought we were so clever.” According to Mary Beth, Holly surprised her more than anyone else she had ever known.
Friends say she LOVED music – Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry, she liked to laugh, she liked summertime, she loved her pets Rascal and Selena , she loved her friends, she liked to be outside and liked to swim.
Holly took such great pride in hanging out with her mom and her best-friend. She would rather sit in the swing with her boyfriend on a Friday night than hit the town.
Today, instead of thinking of Holly Bobo, the girl on the sign, I want you to close your eyes and think about a young lady, full of energy and laughter. Instead of pink and green ribbons picture her with a bag of Skittles. Instead of the face on the news, imagine her watching a movie with her friends and eating popcorn with Dove chocolate……While you have your eyes closed say a prayer for Karen ,Dana, Clint, Drew and all the friends and family of Holly Bobo.”
Zach Adams’ trial included 9 days of testimony, 1 day of jury deliberations and another day for Zach’s sentencing.
Reddit user hysterymystery did some great write ups on the trial, as well.
This is an interesting trial because there is minimal forensic evidence connecting Zach or any of the men arrested to the crime. The prosecution is depending on witnesses and circumstantial evidence.
The trial begins with opening statements from Zach’s defense attorney, Jennifer Thompson and the assistant District Attorney, Paul Hagerman, who is prosecuting the case. Each explained what they believed the evidence would show the jury.
Paul Hagerman said Zach bragged about Holly’s abduction, rape, and murder saying he “couldn’t have picked a prettier bitch.”
He said Jason Autry would testify that he wasn’t there for the abduction, but he was summoned to Shayne Austin’s trailer after going there to get morphine. He found Shayne, Zach, and Dylan there. Holly was wrapped in a blanket in the back of Zach’s truck. Jason was allegedly asked to help dispose of the body after Zach had raped and killed her.
They were going to put her in the Tennessee river and “gut” her so she didn’t float up. Suddenly, Holly moved and they realized she wasn’t dead. Zach allegedly pulled out a gun and shot her in the head.
On the way back, Jason said to Zach “How did this bitch end up in the back of your truck?” to which Zach replied, “We took her. Me and Shayne. We took her, shot her up with drugs, we raped her. We thought we had killed her.”
The defense claimed that Zach was 100% innocent and it seemed like a promising case, as most of the evidence seemed circumstantial. It also seemed like their game plan was to try to convince the jury that Dylan’s confession that led to their arrests was coerced.
A retired police officer named Dennis Benjamin was friends with the Bobo family and began investigating the case. In the course of his investigation, he came to talk to a man by the name of Victor Dinsmore (Victor Dinsmore was listed as one of the men given immunity in the case). Victor was a person of interest because he had a past rape conviction, he lived close to where her body was found, and some of Holly’s personal belongings were found by his home.
The defense said Officer Benjamin went to speak with Victor who denied any involvement. Police told Victor that Zach Adams was trying to claim that Victor was his alibi for the morning Holly disappeared. Victor sayid Zach Adams was their guy and that to get to Zach, they should go after Dylan because Dylan is slow.
The defense alleges the state used unethical investigatory techniques to coerce a confession from Dylan Adams. In 2014, Dylan was arrested on federal gun charges that would have ended in a lengthy prison sentence. The prosecutor, who was also handling the Bobo case, arranged a no-jail plea deal on the condition that he go live with retired police officer Dennis Benjamin, whom Dylan did not know.
Five weeks later, Benjamin called 9-1-1 to report that he had someone in his home who wanted to confess to the murder of Holly Bobo. Despite the fact that this confession led to the arrests, much of what Adams confessed to did not match the evidence.
After the opening statements, Holly’s parents, brother, boyfriend and neighbors testified to establish a timeline of the morning she disappeared.
Summary of Karen Bobo’s testimony:
- When Karen got up, Holly was studying on her bed. Holly asked for a muffin for breakfast.
- Karen made Holly’s lunch for the day, before she left for work. Karen was an elementary school teacher.
- On her way to work, Holly called her because Drew was hunting on Holly’s grandmother’s property and some of her cousins were giving him a hard time, asking if he had permission to be there. Karen called Drew and her mother to smooth things over before calling Holly again to let her know everything was okay (this is also why she knew so quickly Holly wasn’t with Drew like Clint suspected).
- At work, the school secretary came and told her one of her neighbors called and said they heard screams from their home. Karen called Clint and asked what was going on. Clint told her Holly was with Drew in the garage.
- After listening to the call, they asked Holly’s mom to go through photos of their home to help the jury establish the layout.
- Karen was shown a pair of Holly’s underwear. She explained police asked her for those so the scent dogs could track Holly.
- Karen is asked if she was able to give police a list of items Holly had in her purse. She said she was able to because she was with Holly when she bought most of them.
- They begin showing Karen Holly’s belongings, asking her to identify them. She is shown Holly’s lunch box, purse camera, car keys, and wallet.
- Karen is overcome with anxiety and said she was feeling sick. A nurse is called into the courtroom and the jury is sent out. Karen is sobbing and gasping for air and saying she can’t breathe. The media is also sent out.
- Court starts back up. The defense asks for a mistrial because the jury wouldn’t be able to be impartial after seeing Karen so upset. She had a panic attack and passed out. The judge denies their request saying it was a medical emergency. She had extremely low blood pressure and high heart rate. Karen is fine now and returns to the stand 1:24:00 – 1:25:30 – def asking for new jury)
- She talked about how she was “given tips” from the community about Zach Adams and Shayne Austin. She even tried speaking with them. Though, she admitted to getting “tips” about others, as well.
- Clint recalled the morning Holly went missing. He heard Holly’s voice and a man’s voice. He assumed she was outside talking to Drew because “he was the only male figure in Holly’s life besides himself and his dad.”
- From the window, he could only see the tops of their heads. He called his mom to see if Holly didn’t have school that day, but he was unable to reach her. He texted her and she called him. He told her Holly was with Drew in the garage, but she said that he couldn’t be Drew and told him to call the neighbors.
- While still on the phone with his mom, he looked out the window again and saw them walking into the woods. This is when he observed the man wearing camo. Karen tells Clint to get a gun and shoot the man.
- He noticed the man looked “larger and wider” than Drew. He thought maybe it was their cousin Ritchie and maybe they were going into the woods to see a turkey. Clint said it looked like the man had a “deer grunt call” in his hand.
- It was cold out, so he put on some clothes and grabbed his gun and phone.
- He saw blood in the garage but assumed it was blood from a turkey they shot.
- He walked around outside, but didn’t see Holly or the man anymore.
- Their neighbor, Kathy Wise pulled up. She told him she had heard screaming, prompting Clint to call 911.
- His mom got home and grabbed him by the shoulders and started shaking him and said “WHY DIDN’T YOU DO SOMETHING?”
- Clint acknowledged that his description of the man did not fit Zach Adams, but it could fit Shayne Austin.
- The prosecution asked Clint if the “deer grunt call” could have been a gun, and he said yes.
Other things from day 1:
- One of the neighbors testified to hearing slightly more than a scream. He told police he heard her say “Stop it! Damnit! Stop it!”
- The defense brought up the fact that the neighbor was among several people who were prime suspects at one point. Supposedly the dogs tracked her scent to his house that day and the police hounded him for months trying to get him to confess.
- A neighbor saw a white truck driving extremely fast down the road that morning.
- The defense also made a point that Clint was also pressured by police and treated as a suspect early on, clearly trying to cause reasonable doubt by showing all the “suspects” police had in mind.
Tuesday, September 12 – 2nd day of trial
On the second day of trial, the jury heard law enforcement and experts recapped the days following Holly’s disappearance.
- Lawrence James, a forensic expert from the TBI said there were 50 to 60 drops of blood found in the Bobo’s garage and some of the blood matched Holly’s DNA
- Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper Warren Rainey remembered the 18 months he spent looking for Holly and assisting in the investigation. He said he spoke with Zach Adams about a week and a half after Holly went missing and said he was “visibly shaken.” Rainey also said he’d “have done anything to find her.”
- The defense said Zach was acting weird because he was on drugs and is a drug addict. It was also noted that Zach had 2 large scratches on his arms a few days after Holly disappeared, but the defense said this was from fleeing the police on 4/4/11.
- Former Decatur County Sheriff’s Office deputy Tony Webber recalled requesting AT&T ping Bobo’s phone. In a recorded call played in court, the AT&T representative told a dispatcher that Bobo’s phone had pinged near Holladay Lane and Interstate 40.
That afternoon, Zach’s ex-girlfriend Rebecca Earp testified for nearly 2½ hours. In 2011, she defended Zach but once he was arrested her attitude changed. She claims it was because she was afraid of him, but the defense said the TBI openly threatened to take her child away if she didn’t cooperate.
- She confirmed he was generally angry, violent, and heavily addicted to drugs.
- She said she was cooking dinner at Zach’s one night and a story about Holly came on the news. Shayne Austin allegedly smirked and started laughing. She recalled Zach saying “They’ll never be able to find her.”
- Her and Zach got into a fight and he said “he would tie her up just like he did Holly Bobo and nobody would ever see her again.”
- One time at a friend of Zach’s house, Zach and his friend had a blue plastic bin they were going to take to Birdsong Bridge. They said out loud “everything was ready to go dispose of Holly’s body.” Later, they clarified that it was meth garbage and it was a joke to see if Rebecca would call TBI.
- On the day Holly went missing, Zach told the FBI he woke up around 10:00-10:30 and was alone at his home. But, Rebecca confessed Zach hadn’t slept that night and woke her up around 6:30am saying he was going to haul scrap with Victor Dinsmore. Records show he didn’t go to the scrap yard that day (This would line up with Holly being attacked early in the morning, and brings Victor back into the story as Zach’s alibi).
- She also said on that day Zach called her from Dylan’s phone instead of his own.
- That evening, (April 13, 2011), Rebecca said Zach showed up at her job and she noticed 3 long scratches on his neck.
- She said she actually introduced Zach to Holly and Holly’s cousin Natalie, both of whom she knew because they tanned at the combination video store/ tanning salon she worked at. It’s said Zach and Natalie had a sexual relationship at some point.
- The defense discredited her timeline and says it is “heavily flawed” because of drug use and time passing. They try to convince the jury she isn’t remembering correctly because – the phone records don’t match (him calling her from Dylan’s phone), Rebecca’s phone records show she spent the night at her mothers the night before Holly disappeared, so how was she at Zach’s, and details about her work schedule that night had changed.
The white truck came up again. Neighbors testified seeing a white truck speeding off around the time Holly was abducted. Christee Clenney, another neighbor said 2-3 weeks prior, she saw a white truck idling on the road and slowly driving up and down the street.
The big question is if Zach had access to a white truck. He did have a white truck, but after the incident on April 4th where he was pulled over and fled on foot, his truck was impounded. The truck was collected by Zach’s grandfather, who owned the truck and didn’t give it back to him for “some time.” Rebecca remembers him having the truck that day when he came to her job, but the defense is claiming he didn’t have it.
Wednesday, September 13 – Day 3 of trial
The third day of the trial mainly focused on forensics and Holly’s belongings and remains being found. Her body was found with her purse, but her lunchbox, cell phone, sim card, and a school receipt were found strung along other roads and creeks. The receipt in particular was found very close to Shayne Austin’s property.
The TBI confirmed through testimony that Holly’s skull, teeth, ribs and a piece of her jaw were all that was found of her on September 7, 2014. Photos of her skull were shown and a very clear hole could be seen in the back of it.
Forensic pathologist Marco Ross, who was involved in Holly’s autopsy, said the gunshot was so powerful it caused part of Holly’s jaw to disconnect from her skull. He also said that the bullet hole could not have been made by anything larger than a .32-caliber weapon, but could have been caused by a smaller caliber gun.
Near her remains, Holly’s wallet — which still held her driver’s license — was found further uphill and was covered with animal bites.
Larry Stone, the man who found Holly’s remains also testified.
Stone: I saw another ginseng plant, but then, something caught my eye.
Stone: Then, I walked – I said first thing out of my mind you know, I got coon dogs and I use buckets for water buckets.
Prosecutor: So you saw a bucket.
Stone: Yep. So I walk over to the bucket. I picked it up. And then a feeling come over me. Something just told me ‘turn around’. And I’m sitting there the whole time in my head ‘why’s a 3 gallon bucket sitting here upside down in the woods’? So I went with my instinct and the feeling hit me said turn around then that’s when I found what I found.
Prosecutor: What’d you find?
Stone: Holly’s remains.
The big letdown of the day was that the contents of the mysterious bucket weren’t addressed. Larry mentioned that he saw the bucket, but didn’t say anything else about it.
The bucket wasn’t mentioned among the items collected from that location by the forensic expert, either. Photos of where all the items were found were shown, but nothing included the bucket. To this day, there is no clear answer about what, if anything, was in the bucket.
Thursday, September 14 – Day 4 of trial
Day 4 is a big day because it’s the day Jason Autry was called to testify.
He began by telling the jury he was promised nothing for his testimony and hoped his testimony would provide leniency in terms of his own case. He did drugs with his cousin Shayne and his friend Zach.
On the morning of April 13, 2011, Jason was trying to get his hands on some morphine. Sometime after 8 am, he got a hold of Zach. Zach told him he was busy, but he’d call him back in a bit.
Shortly after, Zach called him back and told him to head over to Shayne’s house because he needed his assistance. He figured they were having issues making meth.
When he got there he saw Dylan Adams burning items in a large barrel, Zach Adams standing by his pickup truck, and Shayne standing at the doorway of his home with his shirt off, yelling, “Y’all need to get the hell outta here.”
Jason bought some morphine from Shayne and shot it up. Zach told him he needed help getting rid of a body, and gestured to his truck. The body was wrapped in a multicolor blanket. Jason assumed it was someone who owed him drug money, but Zach told him it was Holly Bobo. He didn’t know who that was, but decided to help anyways.
They got into Zach’s truck to look for a good spot, when they realized they didn’t have any tools to bury a body. They decided they would dump her body in the Tennessee River at Birdsong Marina and gut her so she wouldn’t float – hoping turtles would eat her remains before anyone found her.
When they arrived at their destination, they removed the body from the bed of the truck. Jason spotted a small amount of blood in the truck maybe the size of an orange. He never looked in the blanket. He had the head part, Zach had the feet. He saw Holly’s foot move and heard a noise come from the blanket. Jason immediately called out Zach saying “This bitch is still alive.” He was afraid Holly had heard his name and would implicate him.
They knew what they needed to do. Jason ran up the road to make sure no one was coming, while Zach took a gun from his car and shot Holly in the head. After hearing what they thought was a boat on the river, the two panicked, put her body back in the truck and drove off.
During their ride home, Jason asked Zach about Holly. Zach said that Natalie Bobo was “fucking him” and suggested that they have a threesome with Holly. For what it’s worth, Natalie was also a drug addict. Once they got back to Zach’s, Jason went home. He didn’t know what happened to Holly after that.
After that, Jason tried to put some distance between himself and Zach, but when he needed a fix later that day he called Zach again anyways. Jason went to pick up Zach so they could meet up with Victor Dinsmore to buy pills. When he pulled up to Zach’s, he saw Shayne, Dylan and Zach standing near Shayne’s truck. He could tell they had been arguing. The group of them got into Zach’s truck.
As they arrived at Victor’s,, Zach and Shayne started arguing. Shayne said “you didn’t have to kill her” to which Zach replied, “You’re just as damn guilty, you hit it.” One of them said they’d whoop the other’s ass (Jason didn’t remember who) and Zach punched Shayne.
The two began to fight, but Victor came out and broke it up. They bought their drugs and left.
Two days later, he met up with Zach at a gas station to give them meth. Jason asked what he ended up doing with Holly’s body. Zach told him “he threw her out near Kelly Ridge.”
Zach said he was getting irritated because Dylan wasn’t sleeping and kept talking about Holly. He was worried it was going to get them in trouble. Zach asked Shayne if he would kill Dylan. He said he would give him some of the money Zach was going to receive when his grandfather died and he’d let him live in one of their houses. Jason told him he couldn’t do that.
Sometime in 2012, Jason and Zach were doing meth together and Jason said it seemed like they had gotten away with it and asked him what happened to Holly that day. Zach said they went to Holly’s to show Clint how to make meth. They got there too early and ran into Holly who started screaming and “raising hell” – so they took her.
Jason asked Zach if he really raped her, he said it was quick because someone was mowing the lawn. Jason asked how he could do it with two other guys there, Zach said Dylan sucked them off to get them hard. (The defense later said that was Jason’s way of making a dig at Zach)
Apparently, Dylan told Jason a lot of details but he wasn’t allowed to share that with the jury.
The defense had Jason draw out all the various routes they took that day on the projector for the jury, trying to show he didn’t remember/ could have been lying.
Friday, September 15 – Day 5 of trial
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation made mistakes, Special Agent Brent Booth admitted the TBI made mistakes during the investigation.
“We made mistakes that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life,” Booth said.
Those mistakes included not following up with alibi witnesses for Zach Adams, Jason Autry, Shayne Austin, and Dylan Adams. They included “tearing apart” Terry Britt’s life, a sex offender who lived near the Bobo home and whose house was searched early in the investigation. It included not searching the barn near Shayne Austin’s home, which his grandmother owned. By the time the TBI did go to the barn, it was gone.
It’s been alleged the barn is where they raped Holly.
Brian Vitt also testified on this day. He lives near Shayne and Jason’s grandmother. He said that day he was mowing his lawn between 8am-8:30am and could see the barn from his property. He admits he didn’t see or hear anything suspicious, but it’s interesting that Zach apparently told Jason someone had been cutting the lawn when they were raping Holly.
Victor Dinsmore testified and said that he got the gun investigators found earlier this year, believed to be the murder weapon, from Shayne Austin. Victor testified under a federal deal granting him immunity from gun charges. Since he’s a convicted felon he’s not allowed to have a gun.
Victor said he was on disability at the time Holly disappeared and was selling morphine to make money. He claims he sold morphine to Zach and the other defendants. According to Victor, Shayne traded 12 morphine pills with him for the gun. Victor said he planned to sell the weapon, but wound up giving it to his wife for protection.
He later discovered that the gun might have been the gun that killed Holly and he told his wife to dump it in the creek in 2011. Victor didn’t notify the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation about where the gun could be until 2013.
“We went off on Holliday Road and helped them look,” he said.
The gun is considered a key piece of evidence and was found in a drainage pipe in about 15 inches of water on Joe Holladay Road in May.
While on the stand, Dinsmore alleged that after Holly’s disappearance Zach hid his car on his property.
Saturday, September 16 – Day 6 of trial
Witnesses Saturday included the woman who cleaned the house where Victor Dinsmore worked. She said she saw Victor talking with three men, one of whom she knew was Jason Autry, on the afternoon of April 13, 2011.
TBI Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Mike Frizzell, who specializes in cell phones, showed the locations of Holly’s, Zach’s, and Jason’s phones on the morning of April 13, 2011. Those locations place Holly Bobo’s and Zach Adams’ phones in the Yellow Springs community after Holly’s abduction, and place Zach Adams’ and Jason Autry’s phones near the Tennessee River around the time Autry testified that they had attempted to dump Bobo’s body.
Monday – Wednesday, September 17-19 – Days 7-9 of trial
For these two days, the defense focused the jury’s attention on a different narrative – one where Terry Britt is the suspect and not Zach. Former TBI lead investigator Terry Dicus said he had no reason to believe Zach abducted Holly and that he was certain Terry Britt was responsible.
Former Special Agent-in-Charge of the TBI’s Criminal Investigation Division, Jack Van Hooser, was called as a rebuttal witness and reminded the jury that Terry Dicus was taken off Holly’s case and left the agency because he’d gone off the rails.
Thursday September 20 – Closing Statements
On September 20, each side gave their closing statements.
Friday, September 21 – Jury Deliberations
On Friday evening, after 11 hours the jury returned a verdict of guilty on all charges against Zach Adams in the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Holly. The charges are first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, especially aggravated kidnapping with injuries, first-degree murder rape, aggravated rape by force with a weapon, aggravated rape with bodily injury, aggravated rape by force by one or more persons and first-degree murder premeditated.
Zach sat trembling with a pale face. He was told not to react by his attorney.
Mark Gwyn, director of TBI, called it “a good day for justice in the state of Tennessee.” and that he hated that it took six years to reach it.
Saturday, September 22 – Zach’s sentencing
The defense and prosecution came to an agreement to sentence Zach to life without parole plus 50 years. They made the agreement before the decision of whether to sentence Zach to life or to give him the death penalty went to the jury.
Even though his charges were agreed upon, Holly’s mother took the stand to give her victim impact statement.
After speaking about Holly, she turned to Zach and said “I know that my daughter fought and fought hard for her life,” she said. “And I know that she begged for her life because my daughter loved and enjoyed her life, but you chose to take that from her and you have shown absolutely no remorse for anything that you have done.”
In March of this year, Zach’s attorney filed an appeal on his behalf, asking for a new trial. Jennifer Thompson, Zach’s attorney cited 56 mistakes that were made during the trial, including the county not being far enough away to have an impartial jury and that Judge McGinley should have recused himself after telling the defense to “hurry up” and to “move on”
Also in March 2020, Tennessee legislators passed the Holly Bobo Act. The Holly Bobo Act will allow the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to issue endangered person alerts for any endangered missing person under 21. TBI’s current program issues endangered alerts for missing children under 18.