A slain professor, 2 naked men and a suicide: “One of the strangest cases”

A University of Georgia professor was found dead outside a hot tub, her boyfriend was arrested and another man apparently took his own life in what the county sheriff called “one of the strangest cases that we’ve ever worked.”

Sydney Clark Heindel, 69, called 911 around 1 a.m. Sunday to report that a woman had been under water in the hot tub at his home in Milledgeville for a minute or two and was unresponsive, according to a Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office incident report. When deputies arrived, they found Marianne Clopton Shockley naked and unresponsive on the pool deck bleeding heavily from a head injury. Heindel and “another nude male subject,” identified as 41-year-old Marcus Allen Lillard, were performing CPR on Shockley.

Marcus Lillard was charged in the death of University of Georgia professor Marianne Shockley (right), deputies said. Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office/University of Georgia

An autopsy showed Shockley, 43, was strangled, CBS affiliate WGCL-TV reported. Police told the station that Lillard had only known Shockley for a few months but the two were dating.

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Shockley had no pulse and emergency medical personnel declared her dead shortly after arriving, the incident report says.

Shockley was a professor of entomology at the University of Georgia.

“On behalf of the university, I’d like to express our deepest sympathy to the family, students and colleagues of Dr. Marianne Shockley,” university spokesman Greg Trevor said in an email.

Lillard said he had been in the woods for about 15 minutes gathering firewood and when he returned he noticed Shockley “passed out” in the hot tub, the report says. The deputy noted in his report that there was already a large pile of firewood near the firepit by the pool and that it seemed odd to be gathering more because it had been raining heavily earlier in the day.

When Shockley didn’t respond, Lillard picked her up from the hot tub, jumped in the pool, swam her to the other side and set her on the pool deck, Lillard told deputies. Lillard said he fell while carrying Shockley and that’s how her head was injured.

Heindel said he was at the other end of the pool swimming while Shockley was in the hot tub and that when Lillard returned from the woods and found Shockley unresponsive, they pulled her out and started doing CPR, the report says. Shockley appeared to be breathing faintly, Heindel said, so they assumed she was regaining consciousness and didn’t call 911 until about 45 minutes later.

Deputies called a detective and separated Lillard and Heindel, with Lillard in the back of a patrol car and Heindel on his front porch.

Deputies found a pair of glasses on the pool deck with what appeared to be blood next to them on the concrete. They also found two spots in the grass just off the pool deck that appeared to be blood soaked and found a woman’s bracelet nearby in the grass.

When a deputy went to ask Heindel a question, he found that Heindel was no longer on the porch. As the deputy knocked on the screen door and called Heindel’s name, he heard a “loud but muffled noise,” the report says.

Deputies entered the home and found Heindel inside the master bathroom dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, the report says.

“It’s one of the strangest cases that we’ve ever worked … it was just sort of a bizarre type of case,” Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee said.

Lillard was taken to the sheriff’s office for further investigation. The sheriff’s office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced Monday afternoon that Lillard had been arrested on charges of murder, aggravated assault and concealing the death of another.

Lillard was being held in the Baldwin County jail in Milledgeville, about 90 miles southeast of Atlanta. A sheriff’s office spokeswoman didn’t know whether Lillard had an attorney who could comment on the charges, and no online court records were available.

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