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Prosecutor: Arrest made in Little Nashville Opry case
Updated on: 03.06.12

James "Jim" D. Bowyer, 75

UPDATE:

James "Jim" Bowyer, former manager of the Little Nashville Opry, was arrested Tuesday, March 6 on a Class B felony arson charge.

He is accused of setting the Sept. 19, 2009 fire that destroyed the music venue.

His initial hearing is set for 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in Brown Circuit Court.

"There is no evidence at this time that anyone else participated in or conspired in the burning or the arson," said Brown County Prosecutor Jim Oliver at a press conference this afternoon.

Investigators concluded that the fire started on the stage with an ignitable liquid, Oliver said, reading from documents filed in Brown Circuit Court Monday. 

Portions of the sprinker system and the alarm bell had been disabled at the direction of Bowyer, according to a six-page probable cause affidavit by Michael A. Vergon, special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Investigators said Bowyer and Opry owner Esther Hamilton played millions of dollars at casinos over a four-year period and had only a couple hundred dollars in their personal checking accounts.

Little Nashville Opry Inc. also was facing two civil lawsuits that could have resulted in $270,000 in liabilities, the affidavit stated.

At least one attempt to sell the Opry -- in 2008, for $2 million -- had fallen through, investigators said.

This story will be updated.

PDF DOCUMENT: Probable cause affidavit about the case (click here to download)

EARLIER STORY:

A press conference will take place at 4 p.m. today to announce an arrest made in the Little Nashville Opry case, Prosecutor Jim Oliver announced this afternoon.

The press conference will take place at the Brown County Sheriff’s Office, where more details will be released.

The country music venue on State Road 46 West outside of Nashville burned to the ground the night of Sept. 19 2009. Authorities have long known the fire was intentionally set, but no arrests had been made up to this point.

As of 1:40 p.m. Tuesday, no one had been booked into the Brown County jail on any charges related to arson.

Obituaries
See Full List »

Nina J. Harrison, 61, Columbus
  Sister of Sharon (Delbert) Lucas of Nashville

Tracy 'Butch' Bock, 75, Taylorsville
  Son of Mary Pogue of Nashville

Jerald L. King, 67, Winter Haven, Florida
  Former resident of Nashville and graduate of Brown County High School

  • October 2
    Gospel jam session
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone
  • October 2
    Go Club at the library Thursdays
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • October 2
    WRAPS meetings
    7 to 9 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • October 2
    Nashville Town Council
    6:30 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • October 3
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • October 3
    Bean Blossom farmers market Friday
    4 to 7 p.m. St. David's Episcopal Church, State roads 135 North and 45, Bean Blossom
  • October 3
    SCCAP accepting rental housing voucher applications
    1 to 4 p.m. SCAAP
  • October 4
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • October 4
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • October 4
    Pumpkin Patch Farm Fest in Gnaw Bone
    9 a.m. to dark Kelps' Farm Market, 6473 State Road 46 East
  • October 4
    Chili supper, music and mystery auction at Hickory Ridge
    5 p.m. Hickory Ridge Center, 2314 Hickory Ridge Lane
  • October 4
    FallFare on the Village Green slated for Oct. 4
    8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Village Green at Jefferson and Main streets
  • October 5
    Spearsville church hosts annual homecoming
    1 p.m. Spearsville Church of Christ, 9330 Spearsville Road
  • October 5
    Pumpkin Patch Farm Fest in Gnaw Bone
    9 a.m. to dark Kelps' Farm Market, 6473 State Road 46 East
  • October 5
    Herb barn hosts antique market
    10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Flower & Herb Barn, 5171 Bean Blossom Road, Nineveh
  • October 5
    Elkinsville community reunion near Browning Mountain´╗┐
    11 a.m. Bill Miller's farm, Elkinsville
  • October 7
    Magic club
    5 p.m., 6:30 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • October 7
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • October 8
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • October 9
    Gospel jam session
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone
  • October 9
    Go Club at the library Thursdays
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • October 10
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • October 10
    Folklorist, musician, storyteller at the Y
    6 to 7 p.m. YMCA, 105 Willow St.
  • October 10
    Bean Blossom farmers market Friday
    4 to 7 p.m. St. David's Episcopal Church, State roads 135 North and 45, Bean Blossom
  • October 11
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • October 11
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road
  • October 11
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • October 11
    Second Saturday Village Art Walk
    5 to 8 p.m. Downtown Nashville
  • October 14
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • October 15
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • October 16
    WRAPS meetings
    7 to 9 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • October 17
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • October 18
    Lions serve breakfast at church annex
    7 to 10:30 a.m. Parkview Church of the Nazarene Annex, 1750 State Road 46 East.
  • October 18
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • October 18
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • October 21
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • October 22
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • October 24
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • October 25
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • October 25
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • October 25
    BCSP Halloween activities
    5 to 6 p.m., 8 to 10 p.m. Brown County State Park, 1810 State Road 46 East
  • October 29
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • November 8
    Second Saturday Village Art Walk
    5 to 8 p.m. Downtown Nashville
  • November 8
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road