Ginseng hunter recalls finding Holly Bobo’s skull as forensic evidence revealed

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – One of the men who found Holly Bobo’s skull in Sept. 2014 testified Wednesday as the high-profile trial continued for a third day in Savannah, Tennessee.

Larry Stone said he was digging for ginseng when he found the missing nursing student’s remains. He said he prayed it wasn’t Bobo’s but his gut told him otherwise.

“I looked at him and I said, ‘You know who this could be right?’ He said, ‘Who do you think it is? And I said, ‘I think this is Holly,’” Stone recalled.

For the first time Wednesday, forensic evidence was shown to the jury and much of the day focused on Bobo’s remains, as well as some of the personal items found scattered throughout the county in the days after her April 2011 disappearance and near her remains in 2014.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation forensics expert Laura Hodge said when the agency got to the scene, her team continued to search for more evidence. An earring, piece of cloth, chapstick, and a purse were among the items found near her remains.

“The cause of death is a gunshot wound to the back of the head,” said Medical Examiner Dr. Marco Ross. “We classified the manner of death in this case as a homicide.”

It was also revealed during Wednesday’s testimony that investigators found many of Bobo’s belongings, including a lunchbox and a pair of underwear, scattered across Decatur County in the days after her disappearance.

“In my mind, I was looking for anything that was really odd, or might be the color pink,” said witness Gerald Stephens.

In addition to her underwear, a piece of paper with Bobo’s name on it was found near Shayne Austin’s home, about 20 north of where the 20-year-old was last seen.

“The first and most memorable thing that I saw was the name and address of Holly Bobo,” Stephens said.

Austin, along with Zach Adams, Dylan Adams and Jason Autry, was accused in the case before his death in 2015.

Zach Adams’ defense was quiet for much of Wednesday’s testimony as the state continues connecting the dots to how Bobo ended up north of her hometown of Parsons.

His attorney said the mystery surrounding Bobo’s disappearance sent rumors throughout West Tennessee, which has made the investigation more complex.

“There were people in the community saying things that were not true,” attorney Jennifer Thompson said.

Adams’ trial began Monday in Savannah, Tennessee, located about 100 miles southwest of Nashville. It is expected to last three weeks, with as many as 90 witnesses taking the stand.

Adams has pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping, rape and murder. He faces the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder.

Bobo was 20 years old when she went missing from her West Tennessee home in April 2011.

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