40 years passed since murder of Opry star 'Stringbean' Akeman - WSMV Channel 4

40 years passed since murder of Opry star 'Stringbean' Akeman

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

This week marks a sad milestone in country music history. Grand Ole Opry star Dave "Stringbean" Akeman and his wife, Estelle, were murdered at their Ridgetop, TN, home 40 years ago.

That November night instantly ushered in a new era of country music star privacy, and four decades later, we're still learning new information about the infamous crime.

Stringbean was a member of the Opry and had a role on the television comedy show Hee Haw. He and Estelle were not like the music starts of today. They lived in a small cabin on Ridgetop, had outdoor plumbing and lived without any security.

John Brown and his cousin, Doug, had heard Stringbean didn't trust banks and kept lots of cash at home, so they actually broke into Stringbean's home and listened to the Opry broadcast on his own radio so they would know when the couple would be coming home.

When they arrived, the Browns killed Stringbean and Estelle but never found the big money.

"Back then, it was one big family, but then we knew we have to be careful," said singer-songwriter Verlon Thompson.

Thompson has written a song called The Ballad of Stringbean and Estelle, and he actually played it at the cabin one night in front of Opry stars and Stringbean's family members.

"I actually stood in the doorway of the cabin where the murder took place, and with the full moon over my shoulder, it was chilling," Thompson said. "It was a special moment."

Steve Gibson was 13 at the time of the murders, and his father, Curt Gibson, played guitar for Stringbean's band. After the Opry show the night Stringbean was killed - in a moment so private, Curt Gibson never told the press - Stringbean rehearsed the old hymn Lord, I'm Coming Home in preparation for the next week's Opry, Steve Gibson said.

"Just about two hours later before he left, met his fate and, in a sense, he fulfilled the words he'd been singing, 'Lord, I'm Coming Home.' It wasn't very long at all before he did," said Steve Gibson, now a lawyer and preacher.

Stringbean's cabin is still in use and has been completely remodeled, except for one detail. The new owners left the bullet holes in the floor.

And all that money that Stringbean was supposed to have hidden, well, it was there somewhere. Two decades later, it was found in the chimney of the tiny cabin.

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