In the early morning hours of May 12, 2019, authorities arrived at a house in Milledgeville, Georgia, to find Marianne Shockley unresponsive and bleeding on the floor. She was soon declared dead, and the police discovered that she was spending the night with her boyfriend, Marcus Lillard, and the homeowner, Clark Heindel. ’24 Hours: The Strange Death of Professor Shockley’ takes the viewer through this shocking incident and details how the tragedy affected Marcus.
Who Is Marcus Lillard?
Marcus Allen Lillard and Marianne Shockley were reportedly old friends who first met when they were both students at Georgia College in Milledgeville. Although the two got along pretty well initially, life happened, and they soon went their separate ways. Eventually, the former became just another old acquaintance for the latter as she studied to become a beloved professor of entomology at the University of Georgia. However, about a year or two before Marianne’s shocking death, Marcus reconnected with Marianne, and the pair started reminiscing about the days gone by.
Subsequently, the two decided to date and were in a committed relationship at the time of the tragedy. Reports further mentioned that Marcus had been previously convicted on an unrelated drug charge and was serving his probation period around the time Marianne met her shocking end. As per the show, Marianne was quite excited about getting to spend a day with Marcus, and she traveled down to Milledgeville in Georgia on May 11, 2019.
The two then spent the whole day together, visiting clubs and having meals, before making their way to his friend Clark Heindel’s house. Once at the house, Clark, Marianne, and Marcus planned on having a fun night, which is why they reportedly later consumed alcohol and drugs, especially MDMA (aka molly or ecstasy). Though at one point in time, Marcus decided to go out to get more firewood while Marianne was relaxing in the hot tub.
Although Clark was nearby, he didn’t pay much attention to Marianne, and Marcus returned to find her unresponsive and floating face down in the hot tub. Together, the two men carried the unconscious woman outside, and Marcus admittedly called a few of his friends for advice, but to no avail. By the time they called 911 and emergency services arrived at the scene, Marianne had already passed away. The police thus arrived to find her completely naked and unresponsive, with a large bloody gash on her head, while an autopsy revealed that she was strangled to death.
Marcus Lillard is Incarcerated for Probation Violation on Drug Charge
When questioned, Marcus and Clark both claimed it was already too late by the time they noticed the unconscious Marianne. However, almost as soon as the police were done with the latter, he slipped away into the house and died by suicide. This second death was obviously extremely shocking, but since Clark’s suicide note said nothing about the murder, the police focused their attention on Marcus. They soon felt that his claim of going out to fetch firewood was strange as the house already had a large stock, and the damp weather would’ve made finding dry wood difficult.
Hence, considering it to be an inconsistency in his statement, the police arrested Marcus and charged him with a count each of aggravated assault, murder, reckless conduct, involuntary manslaughter, and concealing the death of another. When presented in court, he pled not guilty to all charges and insisted on his innocence. Although the prosecution asserted that Marcus had allegedly strangled Marianne to death, backed by witnesses/his ex-girlfriends testifying he liked to choke his partner during sex, the jury believed otherwise.
Therefore, at the end of this 2022 trial, Marcus was found not guilty and acquitted of all charges related to Marianne’s death. However, since he was on probation at the time of the incident, the judge revoked it and sent him back to prison. As a result, the now 46-year-old remains behind bars at the medium-security Walker State Prison in Rock Spring, Georgia, on an unrelated drug charge and has a tentative release date of 2030.