Jean Shepard’s Husband Killed Assailant to Protect Granddaughter
According to the newspaper, 79-year-old Benny Birchfield shot and killed 21-year-old Travis Sanders, who had an altercation with his 18-year-old granddaughter, Icey Sloan-Hawkins, before killing her.
Authorities received a phone call about a stabbing at Birchfield's home at around 3AM on Saturday morning, and when they arrived, they found him in the yard suffering from knife wounds. Inside the house they found Sanders, who was dead at the scene from a gunshot wound. They also found Hawkins, who had been stabbed.
Hawkins' mom, Velvet Sloan, tells the Tennessean that Hawkins had been living with her grandparents to help Shepard, who had Parkinson's disease, up until her death in September. She decided to stay to assist her grandfather with errands and the house. She had been dating Sanders, but they reportedly broke up after he allegedly stole money from her.
Birchfield went to the basement early Saturday morning after hearing the couple fighting. According to Sloan, Sanders then attacked Birchfield with a knife. Birchfield retreated to get his gun and came downstairs and shot Sanders, trying to save his granddaughter's life. She was transported to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Birchfield has undergone surgery for his injuries and is recovering. He was told of his granddaughter's death after he recovered from surgery.
Hendersonville, Tenn., police are continuing to investigate the situation, Detective Sgt. Jim Vaughn told the Tennessean on Monday. Police have not confirmed Sloan's account of the events of Saturday morning, and they have not decided whether any charges will be filed in the case.
"We are collecting more information as we go," Vaughn says. "We pretty much have the who, what, when and where, but we don't have the why."
Shepard was a pioneer for women in country music in the ’50s and ’60 with songs including “I Want to Go Where No One Wants Me” and “Beautiful Lies.” She had been a staple at the Grand Ole Opry up until her death. Birchfield worked with well-known acts including Roy Orbison and the Osborne Brothers. The couple married in 1968. The stabbings and shooting took place in the home they shared up until Shepard's death.
Birchfield's neighbors have launched a GoFundMe campaign to help with his recovery. For more details or to contribute to his expenses, visit the GoFundMe page.
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