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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 »

John Jacob 'Jack' Gambold, Jr., 91
  Stepfather of Carol Skirvin of Nashville

Jolee Ragan Dufek, 6, Nashville
  Daughter of Jason and Krystal Dufek

Karolina Rose Spurgeon, 3 days old, Edinburgh
  Sister of Keirsten Dawn Spurgeon of Brown County

  • December 19
    Bingo
    5 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North.
  • December 19
    Christmas sing-along at The Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 19
    Live band at dance barn
    6 p.m. Mike's Dance Barn, 2277 State Road 46 West
  • December 19
    Live hip hop music at dance barn
    7 p.m. Mike's Dance Barn, 2277 State Road 46 West
  • December 20
    Live band at dance barn
    6 p.m. Mike's Dance Barn, 2277 State Road 46 West
  • December 20
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • December 20
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • December 20
    'Gone Girl' at the Playhouse
    1 p.m., 4 p.m., 7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 20
    Railroad museum features model Christmas trains
    1 to 7 p.m. BC RR Museum, 18 W. Three Story Hill Road, Fruitdale
  • December 21
    'Gone Girl' at the Playhouse
    1 p.m., 4 p.m., 7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 21
    Railroad museum features model Christmas trains´╗┐
    1 to 7 p.m. BC RR Museum, 18 W. Three Story Hill Road, Fruitdale
  • December 23
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • December 24
    Nashville government offices CLOSED
  • December 24
    Christmas Eve Communion service at Becks Grove church
    7 p.m. Becks Grove Christian Church, 8009 Becks Grove Road
  • December 24
    Candlelight service at Helmsburg church Christmas Eve
    7 p.m. Brown County Community Church, 2370 Main St., Helmsburg
  • December 24
    Candlelight service set for Christmas Eve
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East
  • December 24
    Cordry church hosts candlelight service Christmas Eve
    7 p.m. Church of the Lakes, 8844 Nineveh Road
  • December 25
    Government Offices CLOSED
  • December 26
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • December 26
    Brown County Government Offices CLOSED
  • December 27
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • December 27
    Live band at dance barn
    7:30 p.m. Mike's Dance Barn, 2277 State Road 46 West