Friday, January 14, 2022

The Abduction & Murder of Holly Bobo


Holly Bobo was kidnapped from her family's home in Darden, Tennessee on the morning of April 13th, 2011. The then-20-year-old was a nursing student, and she spent the morning of April 13th studying for an exam. Shortly after 7:30 AM, Holly exited the house to drive to class. Before she could even get into her car, she was intercepted by a man wearing camouflage. Holly was then led into the woods by this man. She was never seen alive by her family and friends again.

Holly's abduction was witnessed by her older brother, Clint Bobo. Clint was awoken that morning by the sound of dogs barking. He looked out the window and saw Holly and the man in camouflage kneeling in the home's carport. Clint was initially not worried, as he thought the man was Holly's boyfriend, Drew Scott. It appeared that the two of them were arguing, and Clint thought that Holly and Drew were breaking up. 

A few minutes later, Clint spoke on the phone to their mother, Karen Bobo. A neighbor had called Karen at work to tell her that she had heard screams coming from the their residence. Karen asked Clint if he had heard anything, and he said he hadn't. At that point, Holly and the man in camouflage were walking towards the woods. Clint mentioned this to Karen--to which Karen replied, "Clint, that's not Drew. Get a gun and shoot him." Confused, Clint replied, "You want me to shoot Drew?" Karen was aware that the man with Holly was not Drew because Drew had gone to Karen's mother's property that morning to hunt for turkeys. Clint, both groggy and confused, was unaware of Drew's plans that morning. 

By the time Karen and Clint hung up, Holly and the camouflaged man had disappeared into the woods. Karen immediately called 911 to report her daughter's kidnapping-but she reached a dispatcher in the wrong county because she called from her workplace. Karen then called Clint back and told him to call 911. Police arrived at the Bobo residence ten minutes later. It was then noticed that there was a drop of blood in the carport in the same spot where Holly and the camouflaged man were kneeling. After this discovery, it became clear that Holly had been abducted. Knowing that they were in a race against time, police immediately launched a search for Holly and her kidnapper. 

Blood found in the Bobo's carport.

The following day, a team of over 300 people helped search for Holly. Police sent professional teams to search the area surrounding the Bobo residence. Unfortunately, nothing was found. Then, on April 15th, a team of searchers found Holly's lunchbox and some other personal items in a creek. Other items such as Holly's cell phone, a card from school, and a receipt with her name and address on it were found scattered around town as well. These items unfortunately did not yield any clues to Holly's whereabouts. 

It did not take long for rumors about what happened to Holly to circulate. At first, there was a lot of suspicion about Clint. Many questioned how he could have witnessed his sister being abducted without doing anything about it. Some also wondered if Clint had possibly made the abduction story up to cover for himself. Many people also pointed the finger at a man named Terry Britt--a local sex offender with a rap sheet of convictions including stalking and rape. There was also speculation about a group of men that many locals referred to as the "A-Train" due to all of their last names beginning with the letter A. The group included brothers Zachary and Dylan Adams, and their friends Jason Autry and Shayne Austin. These men were known in the community to be involved with drugs and other illegal activities. 

A now-defunct website called Topix included an ever-growing message board discussing Holly's case. People began posting on the message board just hours after the news broke about Holly's kidnapping. Within days of her disappearance, there was speculation about Terry Britt and/or members of the A-Train being possible suspects. Police were also aware of these individuals as potential suspects. Despite this, it would be years before an arrest would finally be made. 

In the early stages of the investigation, detectives inevitably wanted to check and re-check Clint's story for any inconsistencies. Clint's version of events remained the same throughout, and detectives eventually eliminated him as a suspect. Holly's boyfriend Drew Scott had a solid alibi and was eliminated as well. After this, investigators turned their attention towards registered sex offenders in the area--namely, Terry Britt.

Terry Britt

In 2011, a man named Terry Dicus was the TBI lead investigator assigned to Holly's case. Dicus strongly suspected that Britt was responsible for Holly's disappearance. He noted that Britt matched the description of the kidnapper's height/weight--and Holly matched the description of some of Britt's previous victims. Women who had previously accused Britt of stalking also had blonde hair and blue eyes--just like Holly. Britt denied involvement in Holly's disappearance and said that he was at home with his wife at the time of Holly's kidnapping. Britt's wife confirmed his alibi, but Dicus questioned it; as Britt's wife had lied for him in the past during his previous criminal cases.

Britt's house was wiretapped and thoroughly searched, but detectives were unable to find any evidence linking him to Holly's kidnapping. Still, Terry Dicus was convinced of Britt's guilt. In 2013, Dicus ended up being removed from the case due to his "tunnel vision" surrounding Britt. Still, Britt was not completely ruled out as a suspect at that point.

After Dicus was removed from the case, detectives began to look again at the previously mentioned "A-Train". The men in A-Train were questioned early on into the investigation, but they denied involvement in Holly's case--and detectives turned their attention towards Britt after that. However, the men were also never officially ruled out. There was continuous speculation about them on the Topix website. In fact, one rumor that was consistently being posted was that Shayne Austin had stalked Holly and her friends at a local raccoon hunt just days before her kidnapping. A friend who accompanied Holly to the raccoon hunt described the man who was stalking them, and the description very closely matched Shayne.

Shayne Austin / Sketch

In 2013, Dylan Adams was arrested on unrelated weapons charges. While in custody, Dylan told police that he had seen Holly alive at his brother Zachary's house shortly after her abduction. Following this admission, a search warrant was obtained that stated that on April 13th, 2011, "Dylan observed Holly Lynn Bobo sitting in a green chair in the living room wearing a pink t-shirt, with Jason Wayne Autry standing just a few feet away." Dylan also reportedly told police that Zachary raped Holly and videotaped it. 

Dylan's confession prompted a massive search at Zachary's property during early 2014. On March 5th, 2014, it was announced that 29-year-old Zachary was being charged with especially aggravated kidnapping and felony first degree murder in Holly's case. In between the time of Zachary's arrest and his arraignment, another charge was added: witness coercion. This charge came about after Zachary allegedly 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 "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."

Zachary Adams

Zachary pleaded not guilty to all three charges. Detectives remained adamant that they had the right man behind bars. They also revealed that more arrests were possible in the future. By this point, detectives had not publicly revealed that Dylan's confession had led to Zachary's arrest--but many locals drew their own conclusions after they learned that Zachary had threatened Dylan. Rumors then began to spread that Dylan was possibly coerced into confessing. Dylan is reportedly developmentally delayed, making him more vulnerable to police coercion. 

Dylan himself would later recant his confession and state that he was coerced--and it would later be revealed that Dylan's confession actually contradicted much of the physical evidence. Still, by this point, investigators still had enough evidence to press charges against the people implicated by Dylan.

In April 2014, Jason Autry was arrested and also charged with kidnapping and murdering Holly. Jason also denied harming Holly, and by this point, her remains had still not been found. 

Jason Autry

Between Zachary and Jason's arrests, Shayne Austin was also being investigated. Cell phone records revealed that Zachary and Shayne had been in contact several times on the day of Holly's abduction. Police believed that Shayne had helped with the disposal of Holly's body. In March 2014, Shayne was offered immunity in exchange for the location of Holly's remains. However, that offered was eventually rescinded after investigators believed that Shayne was lying to them. Still, Shayne never ended up being arrested in relation with Holly's case--but it was clear that he would likely be called to testify.

The next set of arrests in the case came in July 2014. At that point, two brothers named Jeff and Mark Pearcy were charged with accessory after the fact and tampering with evidence. These arrests were prompted when Jeff's former roommate Sandra King told police that during May 2014, Jeff had shown her part of a video of Zachary Adams assaulting Holly. 

The Pearcy Brothers

Both brothers denied that such a video existed. Detective analyzed over 20 cell phones, but they were unable to find any evidence of this video. The charges against the Pearcy brothers were eventually dropped, and investigators stopped pursuing the brothers as suspects. 

By then, rumors began to spread that the TBI was on a "wild goose chase" and had falsely arrested their suspects because they felt pressure to solve the case. These rumors were largely due to the fact that Holly's remains had still not been found. However, this changed in September 2014 when a ginseng hunter spotted partial human remains in a wooded area of north Decatur County. Those remains were later identified as that of Holly Bobo. An autopsy revealed that Holly had been shot in the head. The discovery of Holly's remains helped investigators continue to build their case, especially since they now had concrete physical evidence that Holly had been murdered.

During February 2015, Shayne Austin was found dead in a hotel room in Lexington. His death was ruled a suicide. Shayne's attorney maintained that Shayne was not involved in the abduction or murder of Holly, and that the "witch hunt" for him contributed to his deteriorated mental state. 

(cbsnews.com)

In the months leading up to Zachary Adams' trial, Jason Autry decided to cooperate with the investigation. He disclosed the extent of his involvement in Holly's kidnapping and murder and also agreed to testify against Zachary. This was a huge win for the prosecution, as much of their evidence corroborated Jason's version of events.

Zachary's trial began in September 2017. When Jason finally took the stand, he denied being present during Holly's kidnapping. He explained that he went to Shayne Austin's house on the morning of April 13th, 2011 to buy drugs. Once there, Jason said that he observed Shayne, Zachary, and Dylan disposing of items into a burn barrel. Jason also noticed that Zachary had a body wrapped up in a blanket in the back of his truck. Zachary reportedly told Jason that the person in the blanket was Holly Bobo.

Jason Autry testifying at Zachary Adams' trial

Jason testified that Zachary asked him to help dispose of Holly's body, to which he agreed.
Zachary and Jason then drove to a spot by the Tennessee River underneath the Interstate 40 bridge. After removing Holly from the back of the truck, the two men reportedly noticed that Holly was still alive. Zachary then shot Holly in the back of the head, killing her. Jason recalled that the two of them feared that the sound of the gunshot would draw attention to them. Panicked, they placed Holly's body back into the truck and drove off. Jason then stated that Zachary dropped him off at home before disposing of Holly's body elsewhere.

Since Jason claimed he was not present during Holly's kidnapping, the prosecution had to present other evidence to prove that either Zachary, Shayne, or Dylan abducted Holly. The prosecution stated that Shayne was the person whom Clint described as Holly's kidnapper. Clint reportedly described the kidnapper as 5’10” to 6’ tall and between 180 and 200 pounds. This did not match the description of Zachary or Dylan Adams, who both stand well over 6 feet tall. However, the description was similar to that of Shayne Austin--who also matched the description of the man who was allegedly following Holly and her friend at the local raccoon hunt. 

After Holly was kidnapped, it is believed that she was brought to Zachary Adams' truck. A witness testified to seeing his truck driving erratically near the Bobo's street on the morning of Holly's kidnapping. It is then believed that she was driven to a nearby barn owned by Shayne and Jason's grandmother--where she was raped by Zachary, Shayne, and Dylan. 

A few other witnesses testified that Zachary implicated himself several times in the case. In addition to the threat Zachary made to put his brother Dylan "in the hole next to her", Zachary also allegedly made a similar threat to his ex-girlfriend, Rebecca Earp. Rebecca testified that during an argument, Zachary "said he would tie me up just like he did Holly Bobo and nobody would ever see me again."

Rebecca Earp on the stand

On September 22nd, 2017, a jury convicted Zachary Adams on the charges of first-degree murder and especially aggravated kidnapping and rape. The following day, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole. As a part of his plea deal, Jason Autry pleaded guilty to facilitation of especially aggravated kidnapping and solicitation to commit first-degree murder. He was sentenced to eight years but received credit for time already served. Jason finished his sentence in December 2020 and was released but has since been arrested again on unrelated charges.

In January 2018, Dylan Adams entered an Alford plea and was convicted for facilitating first-degree murder and especially aggravated kidnapping. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison. The Alford plea indicates that Dylan maintains his innocence but acknowledges that the prosecution had enough evidence for a jury to convict.


Holly's family members were pleased with the outcome of Zachary's trial and the subsequent guilty convictions that followed. However, there are still many who believe that the wrong men are behind bars. In fact, Terry Dicus still believes that Terry Britt was the one responsible for Holly's abduction and murder. Dicus actually testified for the defense at Zachary's trial and maintained his belief that Britt is the prime suspect.

On the ten-year anniversary of Holly's abduction, her family released a statement thanking investigators, prosecutors, and the media for their dedication to solving Holly's case. The statement can be read in full here. 

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