|One of the final photographs of 21 year old Lauren Agee (left), taken in July of 2015 at WakeFest in Smithville, Tennessee.|
Lauren Agee attended the 2015 WakeFest with Christopher Stout (pictured above on the right), Hannah Palmer, and Hannah’s new boyfriend Aaron Lilly (pictured together below). The group was camping at the festival, which began on July 25th, 2015. Their campsite was located cliff-side, overlooking Center Hill Lake.
|Hannah Palmer & Aaron Lilly|
|Their campsite at Center Hill Lake|
When one of the officers, Ryan Melanson, questioned Christopher, Hannah, and Aaron about what happened, they said that when they woke up that morning, Lauren was gone. Christopher said he “didn’t feel Lauren get out of the hammock,” but when he woke up alone that morning, he simply thought she was already at the WakeFest events. Hannah, a childhood friend of Lauren’s, said that she was “really worried” when she woke up and realized that Lauren was gone because Lauren left her shoes, wallet, and phone behind, which was out of character of her. However, Hannah said that the boys reassured her that Lauren had gotten a head start on the day’s festivities that they would see her later. While questioning the three, Officer Melanson noted that Christopher and Aaron in particular seemed nervous, but ultimately “unsympathetic for the death of their so-called friend.”
Sherry eventually hired private investigator Sheila Wysocki to investigate Lauren’s death. Wysocki also does not believe that Lauren’s death was an accident. After looking at the autopsy photos, Wysocki said there appeared to be a strange bite mark on one of Agee’s breasts, and she believes Agee’s body showed signs of strangulation. Wysocki was also able to interview Hannah, who told her the same thing she told police—that she didn’t call Lauren’s parents or the authorities the morning Lauren had disappeared because she thought her friend had just wandered off. However, midway through the interview, Wysocki said that Hannah received a phone call from Aaron. Wysocki believes that she was able to hear Aaron saying to Hannah, “stick to the story.”
Equipped the information provided by Wysocki, Sherry filed a wrongful death civil suit against the three friends. When the three were eventually required to give depositions, they all replied by using their Fifth Amendments rights to not incriminate themselves. Forensic pathologists also disagreed with Wysocki’s findings that there was evidence of strangulation or bite marks on Lauren’s body. On March 24th, 2017, a judge ruled that there was not enough evidence for a wrongful death case against Hannah Palmer. The cases against Christopher and Aaron are still pending.
Since the ruling, an additional witness named Chris Brown has come forward with possibly more information on the case. Brown testified that on the night/morning of Lauren’s death, he and his family had traveled to Pate’s Ford Boat Dock on Center Hill Lake with some friends. He said that he was standing on the dock around midnight when he observed a white male swimming towards the dock and eventually climbing on to it. Brown said that the “young man appeared extremely distraught and worn out.” He apparently spit out water for several minutes before telling Brown and his family that he had almost drowned while swimming and searching for his friends. Brown said that he did not think much of the incident until he had learned about Lauren’s death later that day—he simply had a gut feeling that the young man he saw might’ve been involved. Months later, Brown said he was discussing Lauren’s death with his hairdresser when he was shown pictures of the group of friends Lauren was with that weekend. Brown recognized one of the young men in the pictures as the man he encountered that night. That young man turned out to be Aaron Lilly.
There is still a lot of debate about whether or not Lauren’s death was an accident. Other than the pending civil cases against Christopher and Aaron, Lauren’s case is considered closed.