Convicted Killer of Grand Ole Opry Star Denied Parole
John A. Brown, who was convicted of killing Grand Ole Opry performer Dave “Stringbean” Akeman and his wife, Estelle, has been denied parole. Brown appeared before the Tennessee Parole Board in Nashville last month, and it was announced this week that Board members voted against parole at this time. Another hearing will be conducted in April of 2014.
Stringbean (pictured left) was a beloved banjo player and comedian on the Opry who was known for his humorous attire: a long shirt, short pants and a belt way too big for his small frame. He was also a regular on the hit TV series, ‘Hee Haw.’ Rumors at the time were that he and Estelle kept a large sum of cash in their house. On the night of November 10, 1973, 23-year old cousins John A. Brown and Marvin Douglas Brown went to the couple’s cabin near Ridgetop, Tenn., north of Nashville, to find the money.
The two men were still there when Stringbean and his wife returned home from his appearance on the Grand Ole Opry that night. They shot and killed the couple, and only made out with a chainsaw and firearms … no cash.
The two cousins accused each other of pulling the trigger in the murders. Because both were at the scene of the crime and took part in the burglary, they were both legally guilty, no matter who fired the gun. They were sentenced to 198 years each.
John Brown is in a Tennessee Special Needs Facility. He has been denied parole every time he has come before the Tennessee Parole Board. Marvin Brown died in prison of natural causes in 2003.
The shooting was one of the worst crimes ever committed in the country music community. A&E’s ‘City Confidential’ aired a story about the murders in 2003. Songwriters Sam Bush, Guy Clark and Verlon Thompson wrote ‘The Ballad of Stringbean and Estelle,’ which Bush recorded on his 2009 ‘Circles Around Me’ album.
Ironically, $20,000 in cash was found in a chimney behind Stringbean’s house in 1996, 23 years after he and his wife were murdered.