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Holly Bobo Case: Her Killers Have 'Lost Their Souls,' Family Says

The discovery of a human skull identified as 20-year-old Holly Bobo was the first physical evidence of her remains, police said.

The family of Holly Bobo released an emotional statement Tuesday calling her killers soulless — their first public comments since human remains were identified as that of the missing Tennessee nursing student.

“We’ve lost a precious daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, cousin and friend,” family attorney Steve Farese said at a news conference with the Bobo family behind him. “However, those responsible have lost their souls. Holly’s soul is the one thing that their brutality could not diminish or extinguish.”

Two hunters on Sunday found a human skull identified as 20-year-old Bobo — the first physical evidence of her remains since her disappearance in April 2011, police said. The remains were found about 10 miles from the home of kidnapping and murder suspect Zachary Rye Adams, who has pleaded not guilty in her death. A second man, Jason Autry, was also charged in her death; two others were charged with tampering with evidence during the investigation.

Decatur County Sheriff Keith Byrd suggested there may be others involved, but didn’t provide further details. “We believe there are others and other arrests are forthcoming,” Byrd told reporters. “We’re going to hunt these people until we find them. They can run, but they can’t hide.”

A team of about 25 investigators, as well as forensics experts from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, were combing the scene Tuesday “trying to find as much evidence as they can,” Byrd earlier told NBC News. The search area could expand to “acres.”

Matt Stowe, district attorney for the 24th Judicial District, said he is working with the Bobo family to decide whether to pursue the death penalty against Bobo’s alleged killers. “It’s going to be a very tough decision and we’ll go through all the pros and cons,” Stowe told reporters.

Family friend Tammy Ramey said the tight-knit community of Darden, where Holly vanished from her family's home, will continue to rally for justice.

“Justice for Holly will be getting everyone involved in her kidnapping and her death and all of it (and) all of them prosecuted to the fullest extent,” Ramey said. Bobo is the cousin of Whitney Duncan, a country music artist and former “Survivor” contestant.



— Debra Preitkis-Jones