Real Name: Kevin Hughes
Nicknames: No Known Nicknames
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Date: March 9, 1989
Details: Twenty-three-year-old Kevin Hughes was a chart director for Cash Box Magazine in Nashville, Tennessee. He was in charge of compiling the independent country chart. As chart director, he received playlist reports from different radio stations throughout the country. Based on these reports, he ranked records from 1 to 100 according to their popularity. A high position on these charts could be a great help for an aspiring musician or music group. According to his boss and co-workers, he was a hard worker and did his job well. Sometimes, he would stay up until 10 pm working on the charts.
On the night of Thursday, March 9, 1989, Kevin was finishing work on the newest charts when his friend, aspiring singer and songwriter Sammy Sadler, stopped by. At approximately 8:30 pm, they left the office to go to a nearby restaurant for dinner. After dinner, they made an unplanned stop at Sammy's work, Evergreen Records, so he could use the phone. While there, Sammy heard the sound of someone trying to open the door. Kevin looked outside and saw a man walking away from the area. He thought the man was black, but he was not sure.
A few minutes later, the two left Evergeen Records; they looked for the unknown man but did not see him. They then walked to Kevin's car. As Sammy entered Kevin's car from the passenger's side, an unknown gunman came up and shot him. Kevin tried to flee the scene, but he was tragically shot and killed on the street. Sammy, however, survived the shooting, despite a bullet severing a major artery in his arm.
Despite having five witnesses to the shooting, nobody could give a good description of the assailant. After his murder, there was speculation that he had been killed in a dispute connected to his work, possibly in a professional hit. However, investigators could not find evidence to support any theory. They felt that a professional hit was unlikely, since the killer shot, but did not kill, Sammy and left several witnesses behind.
Investigators are still trying to determine who killed Kevin Hughes.
Suspects: It is unknown if the man that Kevin saw near Evergeen Records was the shooter. He was described as either a black male or a white male with a ski mask. The shooter was believed to have dropped a hat that was found at the scene. It has the inscription "World War II Veteran and Damn Proud of It" with a picture of a combat infantryman.
Several theories came about surrounding Kevin's murder. One was that Kevin had been involved in or was witness to a chart manipulation scheme. However, there appeared to be no evidence that he would have been involved in this type of scheme.
Another theory was that Kevin and Sammy were the victims of a robbery gone wrong. However, this theory also does not make sense, as the assailant had shot both victims without attempting to steal anything from them. Also, the assailant chased Kevin down and executed him. An armed robber would most likely not go to this lengths to kill someone.
Yet another theory was that Kevin was the target of a misguided grudge from an angry manager or performer.
Extra Notes: This segment originally aired on the January 17, 1990 episode of Unsolved Mysteries. Kevin's murder was also featured on Cold Case Files and Fatal Encounters.
Results: Solved. In 2002, Richard D'Antonio, a disgruntled former employee of Cash Box, was arrested and charged with Kevin's murder. Investigators determined that Kevin had found out that D'Antonio had been accepting money to place artists on the Cash Box music chart list. He had also learned that Chuck Dixon, a record promoter at Cash Box, was behind the scheme. Authorities believe that Dixon had D'Antonio kill Kevin in order to keep him quiet. In fact, a witness stated that Dixon said Kevin would be "handled or gone" and that he would not be able to reveal the truth about the scheme. However, Dixon died in 2001, before he could be charged in the case.
Along with the Cash Box scheme, other evidence connected D'Antonio to the murder. He matched the description given by witnesses of the shooter. One witness noticed that he walked with an unusual side-to-side gait, which was similar to how D'Antonio walked at the time due to a back problem. Black cat hair found in the hat left at the scene was similar to a cat that D'Antonio owned at the time.
Also, a witness told police that he had sold a .38 pistol to D'Antonio shortly before the murder; this type of gun was used in the murder. The witness gave D'Antonio ammunition which was the same type that was used to kill Kevin. The witness also told police that on the day of the murder, D'Antonio had test-fired the weapon into the witness's backyard. Investigators recovered bullets from his backyard; one was determined to have been fired from the same gun that killed Kevin.
The witness, along with D'Antonio's wife, were told by D'Antonio to lie about his whereabouts in order to create him an alibi. Investigators did not believe he could have been the shooter until the witnesses came forward and told the truth.
In September 2003, D'Antonio was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison; he would not be eligible for parole until 2036. However, he died in prison in September 2014.
- Kevin Hughes at Find a Grave
- Jury find D'Antonio guilty of Music Row Murder
- Man Convicted in 1989 Music Row Murder dies
- State of Tennessee v. Richard Frank D'Antonio