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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.

Obituaries
See Full List »

Felix Santiago, 66, Martinsville
  

Jonathan Lee Crowley, 46, Nashville
  Son of Richard L. and Wilma Kehrt Crowley of Brown County

Richard L. Crabtree, 82, Brown County native
  Graduate of Nashville High School

  • January 25
    'Big Eyes' at the Playhouse
    4 p.m., 7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • January 26
    BC Commissioners
    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • January 27
    Widowed group euchre party
    1 p.m. Sycamore Valley Community Center, 746 Memorial Drive
  • January 27
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • January 27
    Open 12-step meetings in New Bellsville area
    6 to 7 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • January 27
    BC Election Board
    2 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • January 27
    BC Area Plan Commission
    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • January 28
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    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • January 28
    BC Sheriff's Merit Board
    4 p.m. Law Enforcement Center, 55 State Road 46 East
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    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
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  • January 31
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    Lake Lemon Conservancy District annual meeting
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    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
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