• Jim Leach


Updated: Aug 17, 2018


In opening arguments yesterday the prosecution alleged that Zach Adams, the defendant currently on trial, told his friend Jason Autry about kidnapping and raping Holly Bobo. Prosecutors say Adams also told Autry that Shayne Austin and Dylan Adams were accomplices in these crimes. Dylan Adams is Zach Adams’ brother and Austin committed suicide. Jason Autry has been given immunity in exchange for his truthful testimony. Dylan Adams also cooperated with authorities.

Zach Adams | Holly Bobo

Autry told prosecutors Holly was covered up with a blanket in Zach Adams’ truck and the killers, thinking she was already dead, were headed to throw her body into the Tennessee River near Birdsong. Autry says Adams talked about “gutting” the victim. That is known as a way to release the gasses that collect in a body from accumulating and causing the body to float to the surface. Anyone who watches all the “crime shows” on television has been educated in this method of disposing of a body. Evidently, for some reason it was decided to dispose of the body in another fashion other than throwing the victim in the river. When it was discovered Holly was still alive, Zach got a gun and shot her in the head. Austin says Adams bragged about how pretty his victim was and how much fun it had been to assault and murder her.

Defense attorneys say Zach Adams is not the killer and cite the fact that Investigators had picked other suspects before deciding Adams was guilty. The defense alleges that even Holly’s brother was a suspect at one time. They say Dylan Adams has limited mental capability and cooperated after being manipulated by the police.

An unusual twist occurred when Karen Bobo, Holy’s mother, testified she knew all three men who were arrested for her daughter’s murder and in fact was Adam’s fourth grade teacher. Ms. Bobo collapsed on the witness stand after she identified her daughter’s purse, wallet and a sandwich she made for Holly the day she disappeared. Police recovered these items during the investigation. After her collapse, Karen was able to regain her composure and return to the witness stand. Defense attorneys asked for a mistrial due to her collapse on the witness stand in front of the jury but their motion was denied.

Holly’s brother, Clint Bobo, testified he saw his sister walking into the woods with a man dressed in camouflage clothing who he thought was her boyfriend about 7:30 am on the day she disappeared. A neighbor also heard sounds which could have been described as a women screaming around the same time.

There are several things that could be significant depending on what future testimony reveals.

The locations where Holly’s personal items were recovered could be important if these items were found near the defendant’s home or they were found in a fairly direct route between the area of her abduction and the defendant’s home or another location the prosecution can prove she was held by her abductors.

The blanket Austin says Holly was hidden underneath in Adam’s truck has the potential to be relevant. If the blanket was recovered, it might produce hair and fiber evidence from the victim. Also, if the blanket is unique enough, and Austin’s description of it was detailed enough, the defendants’ mere possession of the blanket could be incriminating. Of course, Austin and Adams were friends so it could be argued that Austin could have seen the blanket at Adams’s house any time.  In a case I worked years ago, two girls from Corinth Mississippi were abducted, sexually assaulted, tied up and left to die in the woods in Hardeman County Tennessee. They described a very unique seat cover in the truck the kidnapper was traveling in when he abducted them. We were able to recover the seat cover and the girls identified it in court. The identification was instrumental in convicting their attacker. Of course in the Bobo case several years passed from the time of the murder until the time that police knew anything about the blanket or knew where to look for it. This time lapse gave the killers ample time to destroy the evidence.

Autry tells about a gunshot to Holly’s head. We know from earlier testimony that experts will testify her skull had suffered an injury that was similar to a gunshot wound and we know a gun that may have been involved in the crime was recovered. It remains to be seen if the gun can be tied to the gunshot wound to the skull or if the gun can be linked to the defendant.

The one definite “time” that has been determined in the case is when Holly was abducted. If the defense could convince the jury that Adams was somewhere else at that particular time, it would indicate his innocence. I think it would be a good assumption that investigators checked all pertinent databases such as criminal histories and driver license histories to make sure he wasn’t locked up, at work, or got a speeding ticket in another state on the same morning she disappeared. Defense attorneys are supposed to let the prosecution know if they intend to enter evidence concerning any “alibi” they may try to use as a defense.

As we discussed in an earlier article, the defense is going to ask the prosecution what happened with other people who were developed as suspects and later cleared of any involvement. The defense will try and convince the jury that one of these suspects actually committed the murder and not their client.

It appears, at this point, the biggest question will be how well Autry does when he testifies. If you look at earlier articles in “The Leach Report” you will see discussions of ways to form an opinion as to whether witnesses are being truthful. The attorneys will utilize these techniques – and more – to try and convince the jury that Autry is lying or telling the truth, depending on which side of the issue they represent. If Autry is very convincing, it may force Adams to take the witness and testify to rebut Autry’s testimony. Defense attorneys probably don’t want to put their client on the witness stand.

Jim Leach served as Special Agent in Charge for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. His book, “You Can Tell ME, a simple guide to effective interviewing” can be found at

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