Nearly 5 months after 18-year-old Holli Jeffcoat was found murdered– her throat slit, her uterus removed, and her body burned– in her Lubbock County home, her mother and step father were indicted by a Grand Jury for her murder. The indictments which happened Friday resurfaced the pain and uncertainty Holli’s family has grappled with in the months following her death.
Holli was a junior in high school with special needs, school officials told us. School staff members who worked with Holli described her as having the mental capacity of a child, according to court documents.
The warrant for Holli’s mother, Debi Holland’s arrest in April confirmed that a week before her death Holli received a pregnancy test which found her to be 12 weeks pregnant.
One of the greatest looming questions in Holli’s case for family members and the public was why no murder charges had been filed. Friday, those watching Holli’s case finally saw indictments for capital murder.
Leading up to these indictments, agencies opted to keep the pending charges in this case private for fear of compromising the integrity of the case. Access to information about this case has been especially limited since May when a media gag order was issued.
Both James and Debi Holland are indicted for capital murder of both Holli and her unborn child. These indictments are notable because they are the first charges we’ve seen in this case which directly reference Holli’s unborn child.
“For me to hear it on TV that they’re finally gonna do something about the baby–that’s the first time anyone has said anything about the baby, the baby needed a name,” said Sherrie Ray, Holli’s maternal grandmother. Ray said she cried in her backyard Friday afternoon when she heard the news about the indictments.
The past few months have been agonizing for Ray and her family members as they wait for more information about what happened to Holli.
“I didn’t think it would take so long and I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting, nobody could tell us anything,” Ray explained. “And for this to come down like this, I saw it on TV it just totally floored me, it blindsided me completely.”
Ray said she is still tormented with dreams at night that Holli is crying to her, calling for help. In those dreams when she tries to go and help Holli, she wakes up. She said the pain of losing Holli is just as strong now, as it was in February when she found out about Holli’s murder.
“Through all of this I’ve lost my oldest daughter [Debi], I’ve lost my oldest granddaughter [Holli] and I’ve lost my oldest great grandchild, the child I will never be able to see, hold it, or hear it’s heart beat,” Ray said.
The indictments Friday also reveal that the Grand Jury heard about specific instances and dates in which James Holland sexually abused both Holli and another child.
James was also indicted by the Grand Jury on charges of continuous sexual abuse of a child in 2010 and 2014, committed two or more acts of sexual abuse against a child younger than 14.
He is also indicted on the charge of aggravated sexual assault of an elderly or disabled person. The court documents say the grand jury has reason to believe James on January 1, 2016 sexually abused Holli.
James was initially jailed on March 10 for the continuous sexual abuse of Holli’s family member.
His wife, Debi Holland, was arrested on April 29, for knowledge of the continuous sexual abuse Holli experienced by James.
Debi was also indicted on continuous sexual abuse to a child under the age of 14, stating that the child was forced into sexual encounters with James.
“I feel relieved that now James has got his murder indictment but I’m sad Debi has hers. I was hoping that something would turn out different, but you know it didn’t,” said Ronny Lemmond. He is Debi’s brother and Holli’s uncle.
While Lemmond feels relieved to have more information, he knows there is still a long way to go as this case unravels. He has many lingering questions about Holli’s case.
“Why Debi could let any of this go on? What was her involvement? You know, like why is she being charged with capital murder? What kind of evidence do they have against her?” he wondered.
Ray added that in her heart she wants to believe that her daughter [Debi] is innocent but she also doesn’t believe Holli and her family member would lie about the outcries they made regarding the sexual abuse they experienced.
The process of waiting for more developments in the case has been physically and emotionally taxing for Holli’s family. Ray said that she has pushed herself away from people during the past 5 months, Lemmond said he hasn’t been able to eat or sleep normally.
Tammy Williams, Holli’s third cousin issued the following statement after the indictments were made:
“I am truly grateful for all of the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Department, the police department, the detectives, everybody who has worked non-stop on this, and I am so appreciative they have done this. And hopefully everything will come together and [those involved in Holli’s death] will never see daylight again. I hope that further investigation will go deeper and get others for accessory or having knowledge of everything.”
Holli’s family members have been coping with all the unanswered questions that remain by trying to preserve her memory. Through the Justice for Holli Facebook page, and through speaking out publicly about Holli’s story, Lemmond is insistent: Holli will not be forgotten as long as he is alive.
Debi and James will face these charges at a later trial. James’ bonds total $3,500,000. Debi’s bonds total to $3,000,000
Holli’s younger sibling was placed in foster care after Holli’s death.