Authorities may pursue death penalty in Holly Bobo murder case

Jonathan Serrie reports from Atlanta, Georgia


A Tennessee man was charged Wednesday with murder and aggravated kidnapping in the death of a nursing student who was last seen outside her home nearly three years ago.

Zachary Rye Adams, 29, was charged with Holly Bobo's kidnapping and death, authorities said. He was arrested last week after police searched his home in an unrelated assault case.

"We believe we can prove that she was taken forcefully from her home without her consent," District Attorney General Hansel McAdams said. He said he will consider pursing the death penalty if Adams is convicted.

There have been few breakthroughs in the Bobo case, and investigators would not get into details about why Adams was charged. His home, however, is about 15 miles from where Bobo lived in Parsons, a small town about 100 miles northeast of Memphis.

Bobo was 20 when she disappeared on April 13, 2011, and her body was never recovered. There was little evidence in the case, except her brother's account of seeing a man in hunting clothes leading Bobo into the woods behind the family's home.

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The brother initially thought she was being taken into the woods by her boyfriend, but grew concerned when he saw the man's arm holding onto his sister. He called his mother, who then contacted 911, according to local reports.  

Bobo had been preparing to go to class at nursing school on the morning of her disappearance, Reuters reported. A small amount of blood was found in the family's carport, police sources told at the time of her disappearance.

Mark Gwyn, the director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, would not say what kind of evidence was found during the search of Adams' home. He also did not rule out the possibility of other arrests in the case and said the investigation in ongoing.

Gwyn said someone from the TBI spoke with the Bobo family before the indictment was announced at a news conference.

"Obviously, they're devastated," Gwyn said.

Gwyn said the search for Bobo and her abductor or killer was the most exhaustive in terms of staff hours and expense that state law enforcement officials have ever undertaken.

"Based on the evidence that we have before us, we also feel that she was killed in the perpetration of that kidnapping," McAdams said.

Adams was indicted during a special session of the grand jury and his arraignment is set for Tuesday.

After Bobo's disappearance, investigators and volunteers scoured the town of about 2,400 people and the surrounding terrain.

Bobo family friend Kelly Allen said she always held out hope that Holly was alive.

"I have really mixed emotions," said Allen, contacted by phone at her business, Parsons Florist, after the news conference. "I'm mad, I'm upset, I'm grieving for the family and friends and the whole community."

Don Franks, pastor of the Corinth Baptist Church, said before the news conference that he was with the family.

He said the family has been relying on their faith to get through the ordeal.

"They just need prayers. It's a very emotional time for them," he said.'s Cristina Corbin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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