Jean Shepard’s Husband Injured in Fatal Stabbing
The widower of Grand Ole Opry star Jean Shepard was injured in a fatal stabbing that took place in a Nashville suburb on Saturday morning (Dec. 17).
Nashville's Tennessean newspaper reports that 79-year-old Benny Birchfield, who was married to the trailblazing country star up until her death at the age of 82 in September, was injured during a stabbing at his home in Hendersonville, Tenn., where two others were killed.
Sgt. Jim Vaughn of the Hendersonville Police Department says authorities received a phone call about a stabbing at the home at around 3AM on Saturday morning. When police responded to the scene, they found a 79-year-old man wandering in the yard and injured. He declined to name the victim, but according to the Tennessean, the address police responded to matches Birchfield's residence, which he shared with Shepard until her passing. Nashville's WKRN news confirms Birchfield's identity.
Inside the residence, police found the body of 21-year-old Travis Sanders, who was dead at the scene. WKRN reports he died of a gunshot wound. They also found Birchfield's granddaughter, 18-year-old Icie Hawkins. She was taken to a hospital, where she was later pronounced dead. Police tell WKRN that Hawkins lived with her grandfather, and she and Sanders knew each other.
Birchfield has undergone surgery for his injuries, and his condition is reportedly improving.
The Hendersonville Police Department is still investigating. They tell the Tennessean they do not yet have a motive for the crime.
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.” Birchfield is a musician who worked with legendary bluegrass act the Osborne Brothers. He also worked with Roy Orbison, beginning as a band member and then serving as Orbison's road manager and bus driver. The couple married in 1968.
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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