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Prosecutor: Arrest made in Little Nashville Opry case WITH PROBABLE CAUSE AFFIDAVIT

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.

  • May 5
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • May 5
    Open 12-step meeting in New Bellsville area
    8 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • May 5
    Nashville Redevelopment Commission
    4:30 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • May 5
    CSCD Building Commission
    7 p.m. CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • May 5
    Bean Blossom Sewer Board
    7:30 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • May 6
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • May 6
    BC Soil & Water District
    6:30 p.m. SWCD Office, 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • May 6
    BC Commissioners
    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • May 6
    Nashville Main Street Committee
    9:30 a.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • May 6
    Woodworkers Club
    7 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • May 7
    WRAPS
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • May 7
    Quartet featured with gospel jam & sing at Gnaw Bone church
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East
  • May 7
    CSCD Ecology Commission
    6 p.m. CSCD Office, 8377 Cordry Drive
  • May 7
    Bluebird Club
    7 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • May 7
    Brown County Schools Board of Trustees
    6:30 p.m. BC Intermediate School, 260 School House Lane
  • May 7
    Art alliance to meet at library
    5 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • May 8
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • May 9
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road
  • May 9
    Widowed group
    2:30 p.m. Sycamore Valley Community Center, 746 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • May 9
    Lions Club breakfast at Parkview church annex
    7 to 10:30 a.m. Parkview Church of the Nazarene, 1750 State Road 46 East
  • May 9
    Open house conducted at New Song
    9 to 11 a.m. New Song Mission, 7202 Keith Donaldson Road, Freetown
  • May 10
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    Noon to 2 p.m. Brown County State Park, State Road 46 East
  • May 11
    BC Election Board
    2 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • May 11
    Beeline beekeepers club
    7 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • May 12
    Nashville Parking & Public Facilities
    6 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • May 12
    Van Buren Fire Board
    6 p.m. Van Buren Fire Station, 4040 State Road 135 South
  • May 12
    CSCD Roads, Security commissions
    6 p.m., 7:30 p.m. CSCD Office, 8377 Cordry Drive; CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • May 12
    Open 12-step meeting in New Bellsville area
    8 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • May 12
    Conference center grand opening slated
    5 to 7 p.m. Creekside Retreat, 2450 State Road 46 East
  • May 13
    CRC Steering Committee
    6:30 p.m. CRC, 246 E. Main St.
  • May 13
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • May 14
    Local Coordinating Council
    8 a.m. Comm. Corrections Office, Suite B, lower level of Veterans Hall, 902 Deer Run Lane,
  • May 14
    Gospel jam & sing at Gnaw Bone church
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East
  • May 14
    BC photography club
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • May 16
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • May 16
    Rock & mineral club
    6 p.m. Extension Office, 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • May 16
    Historic site hosts outdoor art contest
    7 a.m. to 4 p.m. TC Steele State Historic Site, 4220 T.C. Steele Road, Belmont
  • May 16
    Taste of Brown County set at Courthouse grounds
    Noon to 5 p.m. Courthouse grounds and parking area, Buck Stogsdill Way and East Main Street
  • May 16
    Residents can recycle tires
    8 a.m. to 2 p.m. 176 Old State Road 46 at Greasy Creek Road
  • May 23
    Art class set for fourth Saturday at winery
    3 to 5 p.m. Chateau Thomas Winery, Coachlight Square, 225 S. Van Buren St.
  • May 27
    BC Sheriff's Merit Board
    4 p.m. Sheriff's Office, Law Enforcement Center, 55 State Road 46 East
  • May 29
    Farmers market reopens in Bean Bean Blossom
    4 p.m. St. David's Episcopal Church, 11 State Road 45 at 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • June 5
    Strawberry fest during farmers market
    4 p.m. St. David's Episcopal Church, 11 State Road 45 at 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • June 20
    Pollinator Awareness Day at state park Nature Center
    9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Brown County State Park, 1450 State Road 46 East (north entrance)