Bobo Trial Spotlights Drug Abuse In Rural Communities

Posted at 9:54 PM, Sep 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-21 07:47:02-04

On day one prosecutors painted a picture of a drug abuse and its victims for jurors in an attempt to help them understand the graphic details that would be entrusted to them over the next nine days. 

"Meth and morphine and the dark things that go along with it," a prosecutor told the jury during opening arguments. 

Witness after witness testified, a lot of it being centered around drug use, and all of it from members of the same community.

"I had a drug problem," Anthony Phoenix testified. 

"He approached me with a syringe and wanted to shoot me up with some meth," testified Jamie Darnell. 

Behind the doors of the 23rd Judicial Drug Task Force in Dickson, Narcotics Agent Josh Ethridge has kept a close eye on the trial.

"Sadly, nothing like that surprises me as far as the things that are being said," Ethridge explained. 

Ethridge, the son of a police chief, knows first hand how drugs can impact a small community.

"I saw it growing up, the effects of drugs and the stories he had," he said.  

In 2011, when Bobo was first reported missing, Ethridge said meth was the drug of choice but that has changed. "What's trending now is heroin," he said. 

Drugs were a scourge that can tear at the heart of a person, a family and an entire community. 

"It effects people differently because it's so close  knit and everybody knows what you're doing. Everyone is all up in your business in a smaller town," Ethridge explained.   

Meanwhile, the resources available to agents like Ethridge can be sparse in rural areas. Their biggest challenge has moved from meth to heroin, pain pills and opiates and Ethridge believes they know what it'll take to combat it.  

"More restrictions on physicians who are obviously and knowingly overprescribing," Ethridge said. 

In Hardin County, drugs have played a major role in the disappearance, rape and murder of Holly Bobo, and it has highlighted what drugs can do to a community. 

"I just hope that the Bobo family and the friends of the family and Holly herself is able to get the justice they deserve, however way that may come," Ethridge said.