Jean Shepard, one of country music's all-time greats, died Sept. 25 at the age of 82. Sadly, there's now been another death in her family, with the murder of her 18-year-old granddaughter less than three months later. Icie Sloan-Hawkins was stabbed to death at Shepard's home in Hendersonville, Tenn., early Saturday in a horrific incident that left her ex-boyfriend dead and Shepard's widower, 79-year-old Benny Birchfield, hospitalized with stab wounds. Velvet Sloan, Icie's mother, tells the Tennessean that Birchfield was stabbed trying to protect his granddaughter, who had been living at the home. She says that after Birchfield was injured, he got his gun and shot 21-year-old Travis Sanders, but it was too late to save Icie, who was pronounced dead after being hospitalized.
Police described the violence as an "isolated incident" and said the community was not in danger, News 2 reports. Birchfield was released from the hospital Monday, and police say they haven't decided yet whether to seek charges. "We pretty much have the who, what, when, and where, but we don't have the why," a police spokesman says. Sloan says Icie inherited some of the talent of her grandmother, a trailblazer for women in country music who was a Grand Ole Opry member for more than 60 years. "No one knew that she could sing almost just like her granny," Sloan says. "Her granny always told her, 'No, you don't want to get in the music business. It's too tough.' But she sure could sing, and she could play the guitar." (Read more Tennessee stories.)