Jurors in the Holly Bobo murder trial on Wednesday heard emotional testimony from the man who found her skull more than three years after her disappearance, and were shown some of the victim’s personal belongings, including a pair of pink underwear, an asthma inhaler and a tattered purse.
On Day 3 of the high-profile trial of Zachary Adams, 33, in Savannah, Tennessee, the prosecution called to the stand a string of witnesses, among them law enforcement officials, friends and residents who helped search for the 20-year-old nursing student after she had gone missing in April 2011.
The highlight of the day’s proceedings was testimony from Ernest ‘Larry’ Stone, who took the stand to tell the court about the day he discovered Bobo’s skull while scouring the Decatur County woods in search of ginseng, more than three years after she had vanished without a trace from her home in Parsons.
Gerald Stephens looks up on the screen at a photograph of a pair of pink panties that he found while searching for Holly Bobo, during day three of the Holly Bobo murder trial Wednesday
Material evidence: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Laura Hodge shows members of the jury an inhaler (left) and a purse (right) that was found in the woods in 2014. Both items were later identified as belonging to Holly Bobo
Holly Bobo was a 20-year-old nursing student when she disappeared from her home in Parsons, Tennessee, on April 13, 2011
On September 7, 2014, Stone said he was hunting for ginseng roots with his cousin when he said a feeling came over him prompting him to turn around, reported the Jackson Sun.
‘That’s when I found what I found he said,’ tearing up.
‘I looked at him [cousin] and said, “Please tell me that’s one of those things they use in school, and that’s not real,”’ Stone said.
‘I said, “You know who that could be,” and he [cousin] said, “Who do you think it is?”’ Stone said. ‘I said, “I think this is Holly.”’
Forensic experts with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation arrived at the scene the following day and were able to locate multiple items believed to have belonged to Bobo, including a purse containing car keys and makeup, a bag of pencils and pens, an inhaler and a pair of hoop earrings.
Additional human remains, including a jaw bone, teeth and ribs, were also discovered scattered around the woods.
The medical examiner who performed autopsy on Holly Bobo’s remains said from the witness stand that a hole near the back of the skull was consistent with a gunshot wound.
He added it appeared Bobo was shot in the back of the head at a close range with a a .32-caliber gun.
The court also heard from Gerald Stephens, who joined the search effort a short time after Bobo’s disappearance and discovered a pair of pink underwear near the side of the road in Yellow Springs.
Key testimony: Ernest ‘Larry’ Stone testifies that he had found Bob’s skull in the woods in Decatur County in 2014 during Zachary Adam’s murder trial Wednesday
A photo of Bobo’s cranium is shown in court during Day 3 of Zachary Adams’ trial Wednesday
State prosecutor Jennifer Nichols, right, walks back to her seat with a lunchbox belonging to Holly Bobo after Jon Graves, left, identified it as what he found in 2011
A short distance away, a crumpled up piece of paper caught Stephens’ eye.
‘The first thing I saw was the name and address, Holly Bobo, on the top left corner of the page,’ Stephens said.
In the course of the proceedings, jurors were shown photographs of Bobo’s skull in the forest and her pink, lacy panties. Prosecutors also presented as evidence a polka-dot luncbox with the letter ‘H’ embroidered on its side, which witness Jon Graves said he had found in a remote creek just days after Holly was reported missing.
On Day 2 of the trial on Tuesday, the jury heard explosive testimony from the accused killer’s ex-girlfriend, who said from the stand that Adams had threatened to do to her what he had done to the slain nursing student.
Rebecca Earp, who had dated the defendant for more than two years, recounted for the jury how he turned to methamphetamine and morphine.
She said that had occurred after his grandmother passed away and said that their relationship was punctuated by frequent fights and threats of violence on the part of her quick-tempered boyfriend.
On the morning of April 3, 2011 – the day of Holly Bobo’s disappearance – Earp said Adams kissed her on the head and left after telling her he was going to haul scrap metal, but she did not believe him.
Damning testimony: Rebecca Earp testified on Tuesday that her then-boyfriend, murder suspect Zachary Adams, threatened her just days after Holly Bobo’s disappearance. ‘He said he would tie me up just like he did Holly Bobo and no one would ever see me again,’ she said
He later called her from his brother’s phone, which she said was unusual. When he came home that afternoon, Earp said she observed what looked like fingernail scratches on his neck and arms.
While watching a TV news report about the missing 20-year-old Bobo, Earp said Adams and his friend laughed and said police would never be able to find her.
When a couple of days later Earp confronted Adams about his activities on the morning the nursing student had gone missing and tried to break up with him, she said her boyfriend invoked Bobo’s name while threatening her with violence.
‘He said he would tie me up just like he did Holly Bobo and no one would ever see me again,’ she said, according to reporting by NewsChannel 5.
Adams, 33, has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping, raping and killing Bobo, who was 20 when she disappeared from her home in Parsons on April 13, 2011.
Her remains were found 3 ½ years later in woods not far from her home in Decatur County, about 100 miles southwest of Nashville.
Crime scene: Forensic experts recovered DNA evidence matching Holly Bobo in this carport
A bloodstain is seen next to a black Ford Mustang in the Bobo family’s garage after her killing
The blood collected from the garage matched Holly Bobo’s DNA evidence, according to expert testimony
Gerald Stephens looks up on the screen at a photograph of a pair of pink panties that he found while searching for Holly Bobo
During her two-hour testimony Tuesday, Rebecca Earp also told the court about one instance in which Adams claimed that a blue Tupperware container held the remains of the missing woman. She said her boyfriend quickly changed his story and told her the plastic receptacle actually contained ‘the remnants of meth.’
Under cross-examination, Adams’ defense team tried to discredit the prosecution’s star witness by calling attention to Earp’s ‘foggy’ memory, the various conflicting statements she had given police and the fact that she and Adams had both been drug addicts.
When asked by defense lawyer Jennifer Thompson why, if she was in possession of incriminating information about her boyfriend, she failed to contact the authorities to claim a $250,000 reward that was being offered in the Holly Bob case, Earp replied, ‘I was scared,’ reported the Jackson Sun.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Lawrence James holds up a petri dish containing DNA evidence collected on the day Holly Bobo was reported missing
Holly’s father Dana (L) and brother Clint (R) testified on Monday. Clint was the last person to see her alive and watched as she walked into the woods behind their home with a man he thought was her boyfriend
Karen Bobo, 56, sobs on the stand as she testifies at the trial of her daughter Holly’s accused murderer on September 11, 2017, in Savanna, Tennessee
Bobo’s brother testified Monday that he saw his sister and a man in the carport before they walked together into woods next to the family’s home. Clint Bobo said he saw blood in the carport, but he did not know where it came from.
The blood found in the carport is the first forensic evidence related to Holly Bobo presented at Adams’ trial. The blood evidence suggests a struggle may have taken place. It was tested to determine not only if she was bleeding, but also to pinpoint whether the person who kidnapped her also was bleeding.
On Tuesday, the jury heard from Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Lawrence James, who testified that blood collected from the carport at Bobo’s home matched her DNA.
‘There was a good amount of blood at the scene,’ James said.
Prosecutors say Adams, 33, took Bobo from her home, drugged her, raped her and killed her. Two other men, Jason Autry and Adams’ brother, John Dylan Adams, also face charges of kidnapping, rape and murder in the case. Their trials have not been set.
James, a forensic scientist, said one of five blood samples taken from the floor of the carport next to Bobo’s car yielded a complete DNA profile.
Jason Autry (L) and John Adams (R) were also both charged in the killing. Autry received immunity in exchange for testifying against Zachary Adams. His brother John denies any involvement and has not yet received a trial date
James said that complete profile matched Bobo’s DNA, which he had taken from underwear recovered from a hamper in the house. Two samples yielded partial profiles, and they also matched her DNA, James said. He was unable to build a profile from the two other samples.
Bobo’s disappearance led to a massive search of the fields, farms and woods of West Tennessee. Her case received national attention, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said it was the most exhaustive and expensive investigation the agency ever conducted.
Judge C. Creed McGinley moved the trial from Decatur County to neighboring Hardin County to secure an unbiased jury.
Adams, who has a criminal record that includes drug possession and assault, faces the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder.