A warrant obtained by EverythingLubbock.com on Monday for Debi Holland’s arrest Friday on charges of aggravated sexual assault, reveal horrific new details in 18-year-old Holli Jeffcoat’s murder. Holli’s friends and family members are trying to process this jarring information, and a few family members who knew Debi feel she left them in the dark about the stress and trauma going on inside her home.
The Sheriff’s Office charged Debi of knowing that her husband was continually sexually abusing her daughter Holli Jeffcoat and that Debi not only knew about the abuse, but tried to cover it up. The Sheriff’s Office also said that Debi and James are the primary suspects in Holli’s murder.
“My heart just dropped, I was hoping for better,” said Ronny Lemmond, Debi’s brother. It’s still hard for him to wrap his mind around the charges his sister faces.
“I cried, I didn’t believe it, I couldn’t believe it, it was like I kind of figured she might, just be going in for questioning or something like that,” said Sherrie Ray of Debi’s arrest, Sherrie is Ronny and Debi’s mother.
Lemmond said he had been preparing himself emotionally for Debi’s arrest, with the details around Holli’s case he knew her arrest was a possibility. Still, he said, it was bizarre to see his own sister’s mug shot– she looked angry to him.
“I think whatever they did they should have to pay for it,” Lemmond said. “If they’ve got to charge them with this, molestation charges, before that that’s ok I don’t mind.”
He was living outside of Lubbock when he found out about the murder, he recalled dropping the phone in shock after hearing what happened. He and his boyfriend went to Lubbock and waited to pick up Debi from the Sheriff’s Office late that night.
He said he only spent an hour with Debi at that time, she just needed a ride to pick up clothes from her home which was the place where Holli’s murder happened earlier that day. Lemmond said she left the Sheriff’s Office wearing a HAZMAT suit.
Lemmond recalled that Debi didn’t want to return to the house, but he told her he would go with her for support.
“I was taking Debi home from the Sheriff’s Office because Debi asked me, ‘Why does everybody know that Holli’s pregnant?’ and I turned around and looked at her and I was like, ‘I didn’t know Holli was pregnant,'” Lemmond recalled of their conversation that day.
Sherrie Ray added that she didn’t know about the abuse Holli and her sister are reported to have experienced. She said she didn’t know that Holli was pregnant until the day she died when an extended relative called.
“And then we find out she was 14 weeks pregnant and I was like how did we miss that?” Lemmond wondered aloud.
Lemmond said that after he picked Debi up that day, Debi said they needed to pick up James before they returned to the house, that she couldn’t go without him. Lemmond said he didn’t want to pick up James, but Debi insisted.
He said the scene at the home on County Road 3200 was just devastating to witness.
“There’s still blood stains all over the room especially in one spot in front of the doorway, that’s where most of it’s at and you wouldn’t even have to go in the room you have to walk around it or if you walk on it you can feel the blood dried up under your feet,” Lemmond recalled.
He said it felt as though there was a dark presence in the room, almost as if there was a ghost nearby.
“[Debi] had me grab Holli’s glasses on the way out, they were just covered in soot, I had to wash my hands because they turned them black, just a little pair of glasses,” Lemmond said.
Lemmond added that Debi fell to the floor, crying, and James had to pick her up and remove her from the room.
After that Lemmond said his sister asked to be taken back to James’ camper at Crossfire Manufacturing and that was the last time spoke with her for a while.
Following that day, Lemmond said he distanced himself from Debi, he didn’t like that he kept spending time with James even as more information came out about Holli’s death.
He spoke of James’ and Debi’s family dynamic:
“It was kind of like the perfect family life, but I had known James for a long time even before he and Debi got married I had never liked him, so I always had this thing in the back of my head like a suspicion, but you can’t report anything to anybody over a suspicion,” Lemmond said.
He felt that after Debi and James got together, they kept to themselves. Lemmond explained that another one of his siblings had been with James prior to Debi, and he wonders if her more secretive tendencies came from her being ashamed of that.
Sherrie Ray said that especially recently, Debi and James wouldn’t let her come to visit without calling beforehand, and in recent months they had declined several of her requests to visit, including one the weekend before Holli died. Ray recalled that James picked up the phone and told her it wasn’t a good time for her to come over, not mentioning any of the questioning and testing the family was going through that week.
In late March, Debi’s son called Lemmond and told him his Debi needed help with moving out of their old house. So for one week in late March and early April, Lemmond said he and his boyfriend came to help.
“You could tell she was having a hard time, you could tell she kept looking for something at the house and I kept telling her, ‘Debi what are you looking for at the house? Because we’re not getting any of this done and we need to get it done today’ and she was like we’re gonna find that murder weapon one day,” Lemmond said.
He said they cleaned out the whole house, except for Holli’s room which Lemmond said he couldn’t bear to go into. The carpet was still stained with blood, he said.
He added that he hasn’t seen Debi since they finished cleaning.
For Lemmond, things have changed a great deal since the last time he Holli with her siblings.
He remembers last seeing them over the holidays, Holli has an older brother and a younger half-sister.
“The first one to give me a hug was always Holli, she sees me when I pull up and she always jumps out of the car to give me a hug,” Lemmond said. All the siblings seemed happy and healthy to him.
“Up until all this happened I thought she was a good mother, she was strict, the kids were well behaved, they did good in school they all made A and B honor rolls,” Lemmond said.
But he said the record of abuse revealed in court documents surrounding Holli’s death made him wonder if he missed some of the signs that Holli’s home life was unsafe
“It just makes you question yourself so much because it makes you wonder if there’s anything you didn’t see like if there’s maybe there’s something they could have told you that we didn’t know about,” he said. “Like if they’d have told me anything was going on, I would have picked them up in my car and left and called the cops on my way into Lubbock.”
He recalled the last time he saw Holli’s younger sister, it was in the Sheriff’s Office after CPS brought the sister out and let her sit with him for a while.
“I just held her and I told her it’s gonna be ok, we’re gonna find out who did this and everything is gonna be ok,” Lemmond remembered.
Sherrie Ray said the last time she saw Holli’s sister was at Holli’s funeral.
“I’ll always remember after Holli’s services and I remember tapping [the sister’s] chest and I told her I want one word stamped inside your heart and burned inside your soul: faith, always have faith,” Ray said. More than anything, she wishes that she could offer Holli’s sister support and encouragement.
Ray added that she was molested as a child as well, and no one punished the relative who molested her. Holli’s sister is in foster care currently, but Ray said that she would give anything to see her smile and offer her a hug.
Lemmond said that some of Holli’s family members still don’t believe the outcries of abuse which Holli and her sister made, and that upsets him. He also is concerned that some of Holli’s family members aren’t cooperating with the investigation.
“It makes me mad because this case could be ended [if they cooperated] it makes me feel like they had something to do with it to if they’ve got something to hide,” he said.
While Lemmond said the some of the details about Holli’s case confirmed in the warrant have been a relief, but there are many agonizing questions he has about what happened.
“With the injuries that Holli had in 2008 they really should have taken her out and at least done a little more investigating before they took Holli home, because I think if they did they would have found out that the story that James and Debi was giving was false,” he said referring to a 2008 investigation after Holli had been found to have an STD and signs of sexual trauma.
He also doesn’t understand why Holli wasn’t removed from her home in early February after she made an outcry to school officials of the abuse she received at home.
“Holli made her outcry and they didn’t take her out of her house even though she said all these things about her mom, we’ve read the warrant,” Lemmond said.
Who does Lemmond think is at fault for what happened to Holli and her sister?
“Obviously the person who killed Holli is the person at fault, however I do feel like it could have been prevented on Debi’s, part it could have been prevented on CPS’ part,” he said.
He has ideas, but doesn’t know for sure who committed the murder. He is waiting for murder charges to be filed, and fighting for justice in the meantime.
“[Holli’s] sister is going to get her justice, she will, I just don’t want the thing with Holli to fall through the cracks, it’s kind of apparent it’s not now, it’s just gonna take a little longer than we all expected,” Lemmond said.
He believes that for Holli’s family and for all the agencies investigating Holli’s death, that there’s something major to be learned from Holli’s case.
That is why Lemmond has made it his task to share Holli’s voice.
“It makes me feel good to talk about the situation, it is really humbling to be the voice of Holli, I don’t know if anyone’s ever had to do that, but if you’ve ever had to stand up and be the voice for someone it’s very humbling,” he said.
He helped create the page Justice for Holli so that he would have a means to share her story. He also enjoys sharing her pictures and smile with the world.
“Every one will always talk about her smile, if you ever need a smile pick-me- up, a picture of Holli it will make you smile,” Lemmond said.
In the long run he hopes this venture could turn into a resource or support group for people who’ve experienced similar things.
Lemmond is coordinating a candlelight Vigil for Holli, it will be held on May 10 which would have been Holli’s 10th birthday. Everyone is welcome to the event which starts at 9:30 p.m. at Wildcat Park in Idalou on East 6th and Maullberry.