Details are now emerging about a grizzly murder that took place in the early morning on Dec.17 that left late country singer Jean Shepard’s granddaughter dead and her widower seriously injured.
Police arrived at the crime scene to find Benny Birchfield, 79, outside his home covered in blood and suffering from multiple stab wounds, according to the Daily Mail. Inside the house, his granddaughter, Icie Hawkins, 18, was found unresponsive after being reportedly stabbed repeatedly. She was rushed to the hospital but later died from her injuries.
The girl’s boyfriend, 21-year-old Travis Sanders, was found dead at the scene from a gunshot wound.
Birchfield was married to Country Music Hall of Famer Jean Shepard for almost half a century. Shepard was a huge advocate for traditional country music and was only one of very few women to make it in the country music scene in the 1950s, according to The Tennessean. She died in September at age 82 from Parkinson’s disease.
A musician, too, Birchfield worked with bluegrass act the Osborne Brothers, according to USA Today. Although injured in the attack, he will reportedly recover and is currently undergoing surgery.
There is no clear motive for the killings. After talking with Birchfield, police officials confirm that “the situation was contained at the house,” and that more information will be released after the autopsies are completed.
However, Hawkins’ family members seem to suspect that the girl’s boyfriend was behind the attack. Daily Mail reports Hawkins’ aunt, Dana Willis, posted on the 18-year-old’s Facebook wall in the days following her murder, writing: “I just hope [Sanders is] burning in hell.”
Hawkins’ mother posted on Facebook confirming her daughter’s death and asking for privacy.
“It is with unbearable sadness and pain that we announce the untimely passing of our daughter Icie Mae Sloan-Hawkins,” Sloan writes. “It is apparent that Icie was known and loved by many. The outpouring of love and affection by those who knew her is greatly appreciated by her family.”
“The circumstances of her passing are still under investigation so at this time we ask that you respect the privacy of both families involved in this terrible tragedy,” she continued. “Final arrangements are being made and, once completed, will be announced in the days ahead.”