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FERRIER FILES: The untold story from private investigators on the Holly Bobo case

Holly Bobo. (WZTV)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) - The Holly Bobo case was ice cold. Eighteen months after her disappearance, a desperate Karen Bobo contacted a local private investigator named Sheila Wysocki.

Wysocki made national news for solving her college roommate's cold-case murder 20 years later. Karen saw her on television and asked her to help with her daughter's case.

Wysocki and her nonprofit Without Warning came to the Bobos' house and collected everything the Bobos had gathered since Holly's disappearance.

An incredible amount of tips, handwritten notes, interviews the Bobos had conducted and social media posts -- all thrown into a giant box by a grief-stricken mother willing to do anything to find her daughter.

“We were paid nothing," Wysocki said. "None of us were paid a dime. It actually cost us to work on the case, but I wanted to help a mom. It was that simple."

The team was made up of two private eyes, two former homicide detectives and a paralegal.

By Halloween 2012, they already had a prime suspect: Shayne Austin. Paralegal Liz Beatty said his friends Zach Adams, Dylan Adams and Jason Autry may have also been involved.

“It was clear if one of these guys did it, all of them did it because they were each other's alibis," Beatty said. "I thought from a layperson's view that was very obvious."

By April 2013, the group of super sleuths had Austin, Adams, Adams and Autry as their main suspects.

They had a ping map of Holly's cellphone locations the day she disappeared and an evidence map. They also had advice from famous kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart’s father Ed, who came to Parsons to encourage the Bobo family to hope.

He told the Bobos to "keep the story in the media and no tip is too small."

That's when the detectives and the Bobos decided to go on television and talk about all the evidence they had gathered. They shared theories, recreated the abduction, even drove parts of the ping map.

They did all this with the idea that maybe someone would come forward with information that would help find Holly.

“These were simply our theories," Wysocki said. "We volunteered our time just to help a family and what happened, I believe, was we were stomped as hard as anybody was ever stomped. They wanted us to go away and shut up, and they did a good job. They stomped."

First, the TBI attacked the detectives in the news media. The TBI sent news releases saying their group, Without Warning, did not conduct investigations to law enforcement standards.

"The erroneous television reports have led to false leads, public concern and have wasted valuable state resources," said TBI Director Mark Gwyn.

The TBI called the group "harmful to the case" and its work "misleading " and "detrimental."

After the trial for Zach Adams, it was revealed that on the very day of that press release, the TBI was lost in the Bobo case. TBI's lead investigator believed Terry Britt abducted Holly.

They had stopped investigating Autry, Austin, Adams and Adams entirely.

“I was wasting my time investigating those idiots,” said then TBI Lead Investigator Terry Dicus.

The TBI admitted the magnitude of the error during the trial.

“The left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing,” said TBI Agent Brent Booth. “We made mistakes. I will take to the grave."

The TBI didn't even check the alibis of Autry, Austin, Adams and Adams. The TBI excluded them because they believed the crime was committed by a single person. All this while the private investigators have the actual killers on the top of their suspect list.

“It is very profound to look at that, we were on the right track,” Wysocki said.

The TBI was through investigating Autry, Austin, Adams and Adams, but it wasn't through investigating Without Warning. It got judicial subpoenas and sent men to Wysocki's home and interrogated her.

“They were intimidating me," Wysocki said. "They were threatening to me. They were aggressive."

All for information the detectives said they volunteered to give the TBI before ever going on television.

“Fake news, created by the government,” Wysocki said.

Wysocki spent thousands on a defense attorney, worried that she was going to jail. She says they subpoenaed her Google account and got all of her emails, including personal emails to her family and attorney.

The whole thing was humiliating and expensive for a woman who just wanted to help a mother who has really never fully recovered.

“I no longer take cases like this," Wysocki said. "I try not to work in Tennessee. One of the things I was told was not to speed. Are you kidding me? I'm a law-abiding person, and I am told not to speed. That is a little over the edge."

They were not the only story of bullying in the Holly Bobo case.

Ginseng hunter Larry Stone found Holly's skull with the bullet hole in the skull that corroborated Jason Autry's story. This discovery was a huge break in the case, but Stone said the TBI treated him poorly when he discovered Holly's remains.

"He said this could be a prostitute or a drug addict or a hobo," Stone said. "Then the officer looks at me and asks why am I looking for Holly Bobo, and I said, 'Whoa!' I said, 'Isn’t everybody looking for Holly Bobo?' And he said, 'Nobody is looking for Holly Bobo.' I said, 'Well, if this was my kid or your kid, I would be out looking, wouldn't you?'"

Stone was another private citizen just trying to help in a case that obviously needed a lot of help.

“They are not accountable to anybody," Wyzocki said. "They can go to the media and say whatever they want, and it's put all over. Later you find out it's not true, but nobody cares it's not true."

“Google Without Warning, and you will see terrible things about us,” Beatty said. “But none of them are true. It is the TBI showing us who is more powerful and that is wrong."

“I think it is the scariest thing is that they have that kind of power to say they are going to throw me in jail and that they are going to do it with no one looking over their shoulder," Wysocki said.

The TBI declined to do an interview or answer any of Fox 17 News' questions regarding its motive and the allegations made by Without Warning.

Without Warning said it would like to see a full legislative public hearing conducted surrounding its treatment during the case.

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