Suspect in Holly Bobo Case Has History of Violence, Drugs

The convicted felon suspected in the kidnapping and murder of Tennessee nursing student Holly Bobo has a lengthy rap sheet that includes shooting his mom in the knee and threatening his grandparents, according to court records.

Zachary Rye Adams’ history of violence has come to light after authorities announced Wednesday he was charged in the death of 20-year-old Bobo. She vanished on the morning of April 13, 2011, from her home in western Tennessee.

The case grabbed national headlines as the trail into the woman's disappearance went cold and the small community tried to cope with the apparent randomness of the crime. Police have not said what evidence led to Adams' arrest nor have they said whether or not Bobo's remains have been found.

Adams, 29, who was already in jail for an unrelated aggravated assault charge, will be arraigned at the Decatur County courthouse Tuesday.

In 2002 at age 18, Adams had his first documented run-in with cops for drug possession and driving infractions, records show. Two years later, he was arrested for aggravated domestic assault against his mother.

“We are in fear of our lives,” Adams’ mother and stepfather said in court documents at the time and obtained by The Jackson Sun. “He shot his mother point blank with a 9mm Glock. He is a danger to us and the community and our relatives.”

Image: Zachary Adams
Zachary Adams was charged March 5, 2014, with kidnapping and murdering a nursing student who was last seen outside her West Tennessee home nearly three years ago, investigators said. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation via AP

Adams, of Holladay, Tenn., pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced to 11 months and 29 days in jail, although all but six months of that time was suspended, the newspaper reported. Instead, he was ordered to rehab.

In 2005, he was arrested for threatening to shoot his grandparents with a shotgun, reported NBC affiliate WSMV. He also was told to stay away from his parents.

Other arrests followed, including in 2007, when he pleaded guilty to theft of property and also tested positive for methamphetamine and marijuana.

In 2011, nine days before Bobo vanished, rangers in Natchez Trace State Park arrested Adams on charges of fabricating/tampering with evidence, assault on an officer, drug possession and resisting arrest, records show.

He was released the following day on a $12,500 bond, the Henderson County Sheriff's Department said. His next arrest came on June 29 for driving with a revoked/suspended license in Decatur County.

While such a long rap sheet isn’t unusual, “five prior assault arrests is a disturbing number to anyone,” said former Tennessee prosecutor and criminal defense attorney Russell Thomas.

The Bobo family has not appeared publicly since the latest charges against Adams were announced. In a statement released late Thursday, they described feeling “shattered” — but not hopeless.

“We still have hope because of who our hope is in,” the family said. “Holly had that same hope and faith, because of Jesus Christ we will see her again. Jesus will provide us the strength and grace to see us through.”

Image: A poster with the face of missing Tennessee nursing student Holly Bobo
A poster with the face of missing Tennessee nursing student Holly Bobo hangs on a fence in front of her house in April 2013 in Parsons, Tenn. Adrian Sainz / AP
— Erik Ortiz