Boyfriend arrested after University of Georgia professor's naked body found near hot tub under suspicious circumstances
In a bizarre incident, a University of Georgia professor was found dead under suspicious circumstances at a man's place she had visited along with her boyfriend; and the man the house belonged to killed himself when he was being questioned by investigators a little later.
According to authorities, the professor, 42-year-old Marianne Shockley, and her boyfriend, Marcus Lillard, had gone to the residence of 69-year-old Clark Heindel — at 100 block of Watson Reynolds road in Milledgeville city — on Saturday night.
A couple of hours later, around 1 am on Sunday, the two men called 911 to report that Shockley had drowned in the hot tub at the home.
When the deputies arrived on the scene they found three people — all naked — with Heindel in the middle of performing CPR on Shockley's body on the pool deck. The deputies immediately knew something was wrong — they found a pair of glasses on the shallow end of the pool which appeared to have blood next to them. There were also two spots of grass nearby that "appeared to be blood-soaked."
"They determined that the scene looked a little inappropriate as far as just a pure drowning incident due to some blood at the scene and the demeanor of the people at the scene," Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee said in a news conference on Sunday.
The deputies decided to split up Heindel and Lillard for their interviews, with Lillard being sent to a patrol car and Heindel being sent to the home's front porch.
However, what happened next left them shocked. When the deputies walked to the porch to interview Heindel, they found that he had disappeared inside. One deputy knocked on the door and called out his name and that's when they heard a gunshot.
The deputies ran into the home to find that Heindel had died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. "We view this as a terrible incident. We’re very sorry for his family," Massee said.
According to the sheriff's office incident report, cited by 13WMAZ, Lillard, the boyfriend, stated he was gathering firewood in the nearby woods when the incident took place.
When he got back, he noticed Shockley had "passed out" in the hot tub, so he pulled her out of it. While he was moving her, he slipped and dropped her — that may have caused Shockley to suffer a head injury.
Heindel told the authorities that he had been swimming on the other side of the pool and that Shockley was by herself in the tub.
Heindel and Lillard performed CPR on the woman and apparently waited for 45 minutes before calling paramedics as she "appeared to be breathing faintly".
A post-mortem examination that was performed on Shockley's body showed that she died from strangulation.
Lillard has since been arrested and charged with murder by strangulation, concealing a death and aggravated assault. Baldwin County Sheriff Massee clarified that the concealing a death charge was because Lillard and Heindel had called other people to get advice on CPR to "save a life" before they called 911 two hours later.
"It’s one of the strangest cases that we’ve ever worked... It was just sort of a bizarre type of case," he said.
Lillard is currently at the Baldwin County Jail without bond.
Greg Trevor, the spokesperson for UGA, said that Shockley was an academic professional associate in the Department of Entomology with the College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences. He said in part in a statement: "I’d like to express our deepest sympathy to the family, students and colleagues of Dr. Marianne Shockley."