Marianne Shockley’s death was a strange one

Marsic Lillard/Clark Heindel Facebook/Marcus Lillard

Baldwin County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a 911 Call in the early morning hours on May 12, 2019 and located Marianne Shockley (right), near Clark Heindel’s (center), pool in Milledgeville. Clark died within hours. Marianne’s boyfriend was the only survivor of that evening. Marcus Lillard (left).

“Doc Shock”

Justin Butner

Marianne Shockley was a renowned professor at the University of Georgia. She taught entomology (the study of insects) and was a beloved figure in the university’s history. She was known as Doc Shock on campus. Her passion for insects led to her becoming an entomophagist, which is the practice of eating insects. They could be a solution to world hunger, she believed. 

The start of summer break

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Marianne had just finished her school year. Marianne and Marcus Lillard had spent the day together drinking at Milledgeville restaurants and bars. You can see them on CCTV footage at Aubri Lanes, a local bar and restaurant.

A friend is worth seeing

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Marianne had earlier asked Marcus if anyone knew of someone who had a pool. Marcus mentioned Clark Heindel as a friend. Heindel was a former psychologist and yoga instructor. After a long afternoon of drinking, Clark invited them to Clark’s house.

A party of three

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Clark and Marcus had an spontaneous jam session, Marcus claimed to authorities. Clark played the accordion, and Marcus did the conga. Marcus claims that Clark gave them ecstasy tablets.

Marcus stated, “It got all fuzzy afterwards.”

Fuzzy recollection

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Later, Marcus told investigators that he believed he and Marianne jumped into Clark’s hot tub at 9 p.m. Marcus then left the hot tub. He claims Marianne begged him to go back in the hot tub, but he chose to go into the woods. Marcus initially claimed that he was going into the woods to get firewood. However, he later admitted that he was trying to recreate a scene from “The Last Shaman,” in which a man burys himself alive in a ritual to overcome his fears. Marcus claims that he didn’t dig a hole but laid down in the woods, and he doesn’t remember how long.

Marianne in the spa

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Marcus says that Marianne was lying in the hottub, her nose below the water, when he returned to the pool. Marcus claims that he pulled Marianne from the hot tub and put her on the deck. Marcus admits that he dropped Marianne in the hot tub, causing her to have a gash on her forehead. Clark claimed that Clark had been swimming at the far side of the pool until this point. Marcus claims Clark approached him and suggested calling 911. Marcus claims that Clark suggested calling 911, but he declined. Instead, he and Clark tried to perform CPR with Marianne.

A possible explanation

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Penny Dearmin, the creator of the podcast “Blood Town” Marcus believed that Marcus waited to call the police due his own criminal record. He was currently on probation following a 2015 conviction for possessing methamphetamines and selling marijuana. Later, detectives found drugs on the scene.

Marianne’s life was in peril.

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Marcus claims Clark found some branches of hydrangea and shook them about Marianne’s body as he attempted to perform CPR. Marcus suggested that Clark might have used this tribal practice in Peru. Clark and Marcus both said that it sounded as if Marianne was still breathing. Marcus called Clark’s phone and messaged several friends and acquaintances to seek help for Marianne. Clark’s phone rang and Marcus dialed his ex wife. She told him to call 911. Clark called 911 at 01:06 a.m., although it’s not clear how much time passed.

The authorities arrive

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EMTs and Baldwin County Sheriff’s deputies arrived on the scene shortly after. Deputies can be heard commenting on the strange feeling in the air through bodycam footage.

“I’m telling ya, the hair on my back is standing up. One deputy said, “Something is wrong with this.”

Investigators believe Marianne had been dead at least two hours before rescuers arrived. They interrogated Clark (left) and Marcus (right) about their failure to call 911 sooner, Marianne’s gash, and whereabouts while she was in the hot-tub. 

A second death

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Clark and Marcus were separated by deputies until they could be interviewed. Clark escaped after the deputy who was watching him called him a call. Marcus was placed in a car and handcuffed. Clark was not noticed by anyone until deputies hear a loud, muffled sound coming from the inside. They raced to Clark’s bathroom, and he was there. With a self-inflicted gunshot You should be wound to the scalp.

“A terrible mistake”

Emily Boylan

Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee explained to “48 Hours” how this happened. He said it was a violation of protocol not detain Clark on the spot. He said that Clark was a friend of one of the deputies and believed he was not a threat.

“Small town, we know everybody … And he just felt comfortable that nothin’ was gonna happen,” said Massee. “[I]It was a terrible mistake. And it — and it dramatically affected this case.”

Clark was well-known and loved by the community, according Sheriff Massee. Although he had suffered some difficult times, including the loss of his 6-year-old son to leukemia and the recent loss of his psychology license and his support staff, he was surrounded by friends and supporters in Milledgeville.

The note

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Sheriff Massee discovered a handwritten note from Clark on his kitchen countertop. Clark wrote that he didn’t know what had happened to Clark in the handwritten note. [Marianne], but it was on my watch …” The letter also said that he was “so sorry for her family and friends” and advised his heirs of how to handle his possessions.

Marcus is taken into question

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There was only one survivor on the scene that night. Marcus had been previously placed in the back of a patrol vehicle by deputies while they investigated the crime scene. However, Clark was found dead and Marcus was taken into custody for questioning.

Michael Maybin, a special agent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation also known as GBI, interviewed Marcus. Marcus was interviewed by Michael Maybin, a special agent for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, also known as the GBI. Maybin wanted to get his account of the night.

Marcus was told by Maybin to Marcus that Clark had shot and killed himself while he remained in the patrol vehicle. Marcus falls to the ground when he learns that his friend is dead.

Marcus immediately started speculating about whether Clark had gotten into the hot bathtub and “done something to Marianne” while he was in woods. Marcus retorted and said that Clark had no right to harm Marianne.

Investigators did not find any evidence that Clark had done anything to Marianne that night, and were eventually able clear him as a suspect.

The son blames his father

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Carson Lillard’s son was adamant that Marcus knew the truth about Marianne’s murder and speculated on his father’s guilt. Carson had previously seen Clark for therapy as a 14-year-old and they had become good friends. Clark would not have hurt Marianne, he believed, but Marcus was capable.

 “I knew Clark. And — and I knew Marcus. Carson stated, “I knew a peaceful man and I knew an angered man.”

Sheriff Massee is rewarded with a tip

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Sheriff Massee received a call the day after Marianne’s funeral from an ex-girlfriend. It contained a shocking revelation. The woman claimed that Marcus had choked her in sex several times, once to the point where she lost consciousness. She claimed that Marcus pushed her to the ground and left her there. Marcus claims that this was exaggerated.

The autopsy results

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Marianne had been strangled and died, according to the autopsy results. Dr. Melissa Sims, the Medical Examiner, wrote that Marianne died from strangulation. This case is best described as homicide.

Ayla Crippen’s sister Marianne believes Marcus is responsible for Marianne’s death.

“48 Hours” revealed that she believed that the couple were having sex. He choked her and that was what caused her to die.

Marcus is the focus for investigators

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Marcus was the center of the investigation. Marcus was interviewed by Maybin, who shared the findings of the autopsy with him. 

“Strangulation is what killed her, OK … you need to tell me what the hell happened because you know, and we need to talk about it,” said Maybin.

Marcus maintained that he had no idea what happened to Marianne. Marcus was arrested for Marianne’s murder on May 13, 2019, one day after her death.. He was indicted almost two years later, in March 2021, and charged with four counts: reckless conduct, aggravated assault and felony murder. He was placed in custody without bond.

The trial

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Marcus was convicted of Marianne Shockley’s murder in large part due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The trial began at the Baldwin County Courthouse, Milledgeville in Georgia, on April 4, 2022.

The defense

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Matt Tucker was Marcus’ defense attorney.

Tucker suggested Marianne’s death could be due to a fatal combination drug, alcohol, a hot bath at 107 degrees and Marianne having a cardiomegaly, an enlarged heart. He told jurors that Marcus’ guilt couldn’t be proved beyond a reasonable doubt in his closing argument.

The prosecution

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The case was prosecuted by Tammy Coffey (pictured) and Nancy Malcor (pictured). Coffey believes that this is what happened between Marcus, Marianne, and the night she died.

Coffey said, “After they got into the hot tub they engaged in sex.” “I believe he choked her. He choked her for too long and too hard.

Assistant District Attorney Malcor stated that there was no evidence of sexual activity in Marianne’s body after she had been in the hot tub for an extended period of time.

GBI agents looked into the theory that Marcus had choked Marianne that night. Eight women claimed Marcus had choked them during sex. Six of the six women were brought to the stand by the prosecution. Each one of them testified that Marcus had choked or attempted choke them during sex. Two of the women claimed Marcus had choked and suffocated them until they fell unconscious.

The question of hyoid bone

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Tucker found that Marianne had a healthy hyoid bone. Tucker consulted a surgeon to confirm that this is not a typical case of strangulation.

Tucker suggested that Marianne might have been too old or weak to break her hipbone, which could have led to Clark being identified as the perpetrator. The autopsy was completed by the medical examiner, who was called to testify. Tucker said she agreed Clark would fit this description.

A different theory

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 “48” Hours emailed all autopsy information to Dr. Greg Davis (a forensic pathologist who was not involved in the case) for review. Dr. Davis examined the autopsy photos and documents and concluded that Marianne could have been strangled. However, he had another theory. 

 Dr. Davis emailed “48 Hours” that a “valid competing cause of death” was sudden cardiac death due mixed drug intoxication.

The verdict

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The trial went quickly. The jury was selected on a Monday. The jury found Marcus Lillard Not guilty of all charges

Sentence of the judge

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Judge Alison Burleson found Marcus guilty of the charges. However, Marcus was not found guilty. Marcus was remanded in prison and could stay there until October 2030. His attorney believes he will be released sooner.

Marcus speaks out

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Marcus talked about the incident with “48 Hours”, Marianne’s relationship, and how it impacted his life.

“[M]Marcus stated, “Yet, my conscience is very clear when Marianne comes up.” “Does Marianne bother me?” Yeah. It was a blessing to have that time with her. That is something I will always treasure. But … no part of this was my fault.”

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