Man kills self, another man arrested after UGA professor found dead near hot tub

A University of Georgia professor was found dead near a hot tub, and when police interviewed her boyfriend and the homeowner, they charged the boyfriend, while the homeowner fatally shot himself, authorities said.

Marianne Shockley, 43, of Madison, and her boyfriend Marcus Lillard were at the Milledgeville home of 69-year-old Clark Heindel late Saturday night, Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee said in a Monday news conference.

Just after 1 a.m. Sunday, the two men called 911 to report that Shockley had drowned in the hot tub at the home in the 100 block of Watson Reynolds Road, Massee said. However, deputies immediately knew something was wrong when they arrived.

“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,” Massee said.

Deputies found all three people naked, with Heindel performing CPR on Shockley’s body on the pool deck, he said. She was bleeding heavily from a head injury and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a sheriff’s office incident report obtained by Macon-based news station WMAZ.

UGA spokesman Greg Trevor told AJC.com she was an academic professional associate in the Department of Entomology with the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. In a statement, he said, in part: “I’d like to express our deepest sympathy to the family, students and colleagues of Dr. Marianne Shockley.”

Lillard said he was in the woods prior to the incident to gather firewood, the report said. He said when he got back from the woods, he noticed Shockley “passed out” in the hot tub, so he pulled her out. While moving her, he said he fell, which is how she received her head injury.

The report said Heindel said he was swimming on the other side of the pool, while Shockley was alone in the hot tub. Heindel and Lillard performed CPR and said they waited 45 minutes before calling 911 because she “appeared to be breathing faintly.”

Deputies found a pair of eyeglasses on the shallow end of the pool deck that appeared to have blood next to them, and there were two spots of nearby grass that “appeared to be blood soaked,” the news station reported.

Deputies split up Heindel and Lillard for interviews, sending Lillard to a patrol car and Heindel to the home’s front porch, Massee said.

When deputies walked to the porch to interview Heindel, he had disappeared inside the home, Massee said. When a deputy knocked on the door and called his name, a gunshot was heard.

Deputies ran inside to find Heindel dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, Massee said.

“We view this as a terrible incident,” Massee said. “We’re very sorry for his family.”

The GBI was called in to help investigate the incident, agency spokeswoman Nelly Miles confirmed. An autopsy was performed on Shockley’s body, and the preliminary results show she died from strangulation, Massee said.

Lillard was arrested and charged with murder by strangulation, concealing a death and aggravated assault, Massee said. He elaborated on the concealing a death charge, saying it was because Lillard and Heindel made calls to other people trying to get CPR advice on how to “save a life” before calling 911 about 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,” Massee said.

Lillard remains at the Baldwin County Jail without bond. 

According to a GoFundMe page set up to help with funeral costs, Shockley was a mother of two. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at Apalachee United Methodist Church at 5070 Lower Apalachee Road in Madison.

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