By Patrick Yost
A 43-year-old Apalachee native was strangled to death, police allege, at a Milledgeville residence sometime Saturday night or Sunday morning in a crime scene that veteran Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee would call “bizarre” in a press conference Monday.
The body of Marianne Clopton Shockley, a 1993 Morgan County High School graduate and resident of Plantation Road, was found by Baldwin County authorities near a pool and hot tub following a 1:06 a.m. 911 call from a Watson Reynolds Road, Milledgeville residence.
According to a press release issued by the Baldwin County’s Sheriff’s Office, Marcus Allen Lillard, 41, a former car salesmen in both Milledgeville and Macon, was arrested at 3 p.m. on Monday and charged in Shockley’s death. Lillard was charged with murder, aggravated assault and concealing the death of another. He had been initially detained on a probation violation at the crime scene Sunday morning.
A third man at the residence and the property owner, 69-year-old Sydney Clark Heindel, shot and killed himself in the master bathroom of the residence while officers were at the scene.
At a press conference Monday, Sheriff Massee said results from an autopsy led authorities to seek and receive arrest warrants from Superior Court Judge Brenda Trammell for Lilliard’s arrest. Massee said an initial investigation showed that Lillard made several phone calls and texts around 11 p.m. asking for advice on CPR, “basically how to save a life.” However, he said, the 911 call was not made until 1:06 a.m.
When authorities arrived, Massee said, “Everyone got to the scene… they determined that the scene looked a little inappropriate as far as a pure drowning incident due to blood at the scene and the demeanor of the people at the scene.”
Deputies separated Heindel from Lillard. “When Heindel went back into his house, he was unattended and he did commit suicide,” Massee said.
“It’s one of the strangest cases we’ve every worked. When we first arrived at the crime scene there was something about it that was not right. It was sort of a bizarre, different kind of case.”
Shockley held a Ph.D degree from the University of Georgia and was employed at the university since 2010. According to her academia page, she received a Bachelor’s degree in biology from Georgia College and State University in 1997 and received her masters degree and Ph.D from the Department of Entomology at the University of Georgia.
Heindel, Massee said, was a former clinical psychologist and current owner of a yoga studio in Milledgeville.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was called to the scene, Massey said, and arrived at 3:15 a.m.
Massee said authorities are not speculating on the time of Shockley’s death, based in part on the temperature of the hot tub at the scene and review of phone calls Lillard made more than two hours before a 911 call was made.
“It was basically a group text and then we’ve got a couple of other calls, probably around 11 or 11:30 Saturday night,” said GBI Assistant Agent In-Charge Mary Chandler at the press conference. “911 was not called until 1:06 a.m. the following day.”
Massee said at the press conference that Shockley had known Heindel for several years and had known Lillard for three or four months.