Holly Bobo was living a normal college student life when she mysteriously disappeared after an early morning meeting with a stranger.
Holly Bobo was 20 years old in 2011, studying nursing at University of Tennessee and living with her parents in Darden, Tennessee. Other than being a cousin to country singer Whitney Duncan, Bobo had a normal, quiet life, until the morning of April 13, when she disappeared.
Bobo had woken early that morning to study, while her brother Clint slept and her parents left for work. At around 7:45 a.m., Clint woke up to the sound of dogs barking and looked out the window. He saw his sister outside, kneeling and facing a large, dark-haired man dressed in camouflage and wearing a hat.
At the time, Clint believed the man was Bobo’s boyfriend, Drew Scott. He overheard snippets of the conversation, and believed the two were having an argument.
The only thing he could clearly make out was Bobo saying “No, why?” However, just a few minutes later, he got a chilling call from his mother, who told him “That’s not Drew. Get a gun and shoot him.”
Clint, still confused as to the identity of the man and unwilling to shoot someone for no reason, did not immediately grab his gun. Instead, he looked again out the window and saw Bobo and the unidentified man walking into the woods together. He tried calling both Scott and his sister, but neither answered their phones. Only then did he get his loaded pistol and go outside, where he saw drops of blood on the pavement near her car. Finally, he called 911.
From the time of Holly Bobo’s disappearance, the prosecution was under heavy pressure and repeatedly came under fire for mishandling the case. Their first suspect in the case was a man named Terry Britt, who was a registered sex offender who lived nearby the Bobo’s home.
Britt’s home was searched, but nothing ever came of it and charges were never brought against him. Instead, the police turned their attention to a pair of brothers, Zach and Dylan Adams, although it remains unclear what initially attracted their suspicion. Dylan had been arrested on an unrelated weapons charge, and it was while he was custody that the police began to suspect the brothers had something to do with Bobo’s disappearance.
Dylan Adams, who has a mental disability, eventually told the police that he had gone to his brother’s house on April 13 and seen his brother Zach and a friend, Jason Autry, with Bobo. He claimed Zach was wearing camouflage shorts and had told him he had a video of himself raping Bobo. The search for the alleged video led police to two other suspects, Jeff and Mark Pearcy.
A woman named Sandra King, Jeff’s former roommate, claimed that he had shown her a video clip of Bobo being assaulted. King claimed Mark had shot the video. Police arranged a recorded call between King and Jeff Pearcy, but the video never turned up on either Jeff or Mark’s cell phones. As a result, the charges against the Pearcy brothers were dropped.
Dylan claimed another man, Shayne Austin, had also been in touch with Zach that day and was an accomplice to the rape and murder. The police agreed to grant Austin immunity if he was able to lead them to the body, but he failed to bring them to the right location, instead taking them only to an empty patch of land.
Eventually, in September 2014, the remains turned up without Austin’s help. A man out hunting for ginseng found a bucket in the woods twenty miles outside of Darden that, upon analysis, contained the remains of Holly Bobo’s skull, teeth, ribs, and a shoulder blade. The skull had evidence of a gunshot wound in her left cheekbone.
In February of 2015, Austin was found dead by apparent suicide. Austin’s attorney claiming that Austin was driven to kill himself because of the undue stress brought on by the “witch hunt” of a police investigation, and maintained that he had cooperated completely and was totally innocent.
Jason Autry, also implicated in the murders, maintained that he had not harmed Bobo, and had only helped dispose of the body. During the trial, he became a star witness for the prosecution. He testified that he had gone to Austin’s house to buy drugs, and while there, he saw Bobo’s body wrapped up in a blanket and agreed to help Zach get rid of the body.
They drove to the Tennessee River with the plan to gut her and dump her body, but, once they arrived, Bobo began to move and moan. Zach then shot her again, and, fearing the gunshot would attract someone, loaded the body back up and drove off, later disposing of her body in a different location.
Ultimately, six people were implicated in connection with Bobo’s murder. Only three went to trial, and all have maintained their innocence.
Throughout the trial, the defense accused the prosecution of deliberately delaying the case and failing to turn over evidence. The Adams attorneys also suggested the prosecution had exploited Dylan’s mental disability to coerce a confession, and in the end he only admitted to what he thought they wanted to hear.
Despite all the criticisms of the prosecution, they were eventually able to successfully convict the Adams brothers. In September of 2017, Zach Adams was sentenced to life in prison plus fifty years for kidnapping and rape. The following year, Dylan Adams entered an Alford plea, receiving fifteen years for murder and thirty-five years for aggravated kidnapping.
Although many questions still remain about the case, there is finally some sense of closure for the Bobo family seven years after the disappearance of Holly Bobo.
After reading about the mysterious murder of Holly Bobo, check out the mysterious disappearance of Amy Lynn Bradley, who vanished from a cruise ship during a family vacation. Then, read about Amelia Earhart, whose unexplained disappearance is one of the most famous in history.