FERRIER FILES: Thoughts & an untold story from the Holly Bobo murder trial

Holly Bobo (Submitted to WZTV)

Over the years, so many people have asked me, 'Why do you think Holly Bobo's disappearance was such a big deal? Was it because she was so pretty?'

I don't think so. I think it was actually because she seemed like one of us. She was a daughter, a sister, a young woman with a bright future ahead of her, and what happened to her is every parent's worst nightmare.

Holly was taken from her own yard in broad daylight, tortured, sexually assaulted, and killed. We don't know all the details of what happened to her and we don't need to; we can be sure they're as bad as anything we could possibly imagine.

I know Holly's family. I've been in their home. They're a hard-working, close knit, middle class family. They had movie nights together, and Sunday suppers.

They weren't into material things; they were into each other. And they had a good life -- until the morning it was taken away forever.

The men prosecutors say kidnapped and killed Holly Bobo were monsters.

There was Zach Adams, a leering rapist and murderer. Dylan Adams, his younger brother-- charged with rape, equally reprehensible. Jason Autry, a drug addict who talked about disposing of Holly's body like most people talk about taking out the trash. And Shayne Austin, whose broken soul was visible behind dead, empty eyes.

The prosecution's theory is that Shayne stalked her, kidnapped her, shot her up with drugs in order to rape her, and then later killed himself.

The testimony during Zach Adams' trial made Shayne's life seem worthless -- and we tell ourselves such a man must be born of terrible parents who didn't care about their son enough to teach him right from wrong.

But that's not always the case. And this brings me to a surprising story that happened mid-trial -- a story you'll never see on television or in newspapers.

Walt Ostarly got a job covering the Holly Bobo trial for an internet media outlet. He had never covered a trial before, but he is a great photographer, a smart and curious man, and he did a very good job.

The problem was, Walt's truck engine blew up during the trial. He was stranded in Savannah, Tennessee, stuck at the courthouse without transportation.

We all commiserated with Walt, but we couldn't help him. We were covering the trial, and the closest rental car agency was an hour away. While Walt stood outside the courtroom wondering what to do, an elderly couple approached him.

"We saw you on the side of the road this morning," the woman said. "We were late for court, and we couldn't stop. Do you need a ride?"

The couple not only gave Walt a ride to a rental car, they bought him dinner as well. They were kind and caring. They asked him if they could do anything else to help him. Over dinner, Walt finally learned their names.

They were Shayne Austin's parents.

I believe Holly Bobo is at peace now, without pain, and in a better place. I believe justice was served in the trial of Zach Adams.

The Bobos said when the verdict came in, they smiled for the first time in six and a half years -- but we all know they'll live the rest of their lives with hearts that ache for her. We know their Christmas and birthday celebrations and Sunday suppers will never, ever be the same.

A guilty verdict won't change that, or make up for it.

And now for the first time, I think of Shayne Austin's parents as well. More lives ruined in the aftermath of this unspeakable crime. Their son's story is over. Linked forever to a despicable and horrifying act.

How can they ever smile again?

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