Georgia man says

On the evening of May 11, 2019, three friends gathered around a pool and a hot tub to enjoy a few drinks and play music. By morning, only one was alive.

was the only survivor Marcus Lillard, First responders were told that Lillard’s girlfriend, Marianne Shockley, had drowned in the hot tub, but sheriff’s representatives felt something was wrong with that story. For one thing, Marianne, a respected professor at the University of Georgia, had a bloody wound on her head.

And while the reps were trying to decipher the scene, a third person in tandem — homeowner Clark Hendel, a former psychologist — killed himself. He left a three-page suicide note but did not claim responsibility for Marianne’s death.

Marcus Lillard says of that night, “The devil was at work. I mean, everything he could possibly do to make this thing confusing and deceitful and it was all there.”

“48 Hours” investigates the mysterious death of a professor at the Popular University of Georgia


Lillard told CBS News correspondent Jonathan Vigliotti on assignment for “48 hours” what he remembers about the bizarre events of that night in “The Strange Death of Professor Shockley,” which took place on Saturday, October 15, It airs and is streaming on 10/9c on CBS on 2022. Paramount+

Vigliotti and “48 Hours” investigate a complex case that began on the night of May 11 and moved into the early hours of Mother’s Day on May 12, 2019.

That Saturday night, Lillard had brought Marianne to visit her friend Clark Handel in Mildgeville, Georgia, about 100 miles southeast of Atlanta. It is the city where Southern Gothic novelist Flannery O’Connor wrote his most famous stories, including “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”.

Marcus Lillard, Clark Handel and Marianne Shockley
From left, Marcus Lillard, Clark Handel and Marianne Shockley.

Lillard tells Vigliotti that there are gaps in his memory since that night because he had been drinking and had taken the illegal drug ecstasy (also known as MDMA or Molly) that night with Marianne and Handel.

Lillard said in the interview, “There is good and there is evil and that night, evil came to play.” “God spent the rest of the time cleaning up this mess, and … there’s still something else.”

He insisted that Marianne’s death was an accident.

“When I think of an accident,” Vigliotti told Lillard, “I don’t think of evil. Evil, to me, is intentional.”

Lillard replied, “The Bible says Satan came to steal, kill and destroy.”

Matthew Lillard and Marianne Shockley
University of Georgia professor Marianne Shockley took Marcus Lillard as his assistant on international trips to China and Ecuador. Here he is pictured at the second international conference “Pests to Feed the World” (IFW 2018) in Wuhan, China.

Marian, known by the nickname “Doc Shock” to her loyal students, was an expert in the fields of entomology, the study of insects, and entomophagy, the eating of insects.

Lillard made his living financing cars for local dealerships. He says that he and Marianne had been seeing each other for almost two years. “We were super in love with each other,” he said.

Handel was 69 – about 30 years older than the couple – and he told the deputy that night that he never went to the hot tub, but stayed in the shallow end of the pool, about 50 feet away.

Marianne was in the hot tub no sooner than Lillard said she decided to take a walk in the adjacent woods. Marianne, he says, begged him not to leave his side.

Clark Handel's Hot Tub
Marcus Lillard says he didn’t know how long Marianne Shockley was in the hot tub until he came back to see her lifeless body down in the water.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation

He told Vigliotti that he said, “Baby… get back in this water with me right now.”

“Was she scared?” Vigliotti asked Lillard.

“There was fear in his voice and he was … certainly afraid,” he replied.

“Why didn’t you turn at that moment?” Vigliotti asked.

Lillard was blunt: “Because I’m an idiot.”

He says that he is unsure of what Marian was afraid of or how long he had been in the woods, but when he returned, “I could see Marian plunged under the water from her chin to her nose…” Investigators believe the men waited two hours before 911 was called.

Longtime Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massey said it was one of the strangest crime scenes he had ever seen.

Lillard agrees that there was something different about that night. “One thing I know for sure,” he told Vigliotti, “it was no ordinary ecstasy… it was very powerful… and I believe it was created by evil hands. “

“Why do you think ecstasy was bad?” Vigliotti asked.

“Well, it killed two people…” he replied.

Officers treated both Lillard and Handel as suspects but ultimately focused on Lillard. The medical examiner had ruled that Marianne had been strangled to death. Lillard denied that he had caused any harm to Marianne, but was charged with felony charges and other charges. After a week of trial, he was acquitted.

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