Two people accused of stealing a Hank Williams notebook believed to be worth $250,000 surrendered to police, even though one of the suspects claims to have legitimately obtained the item, officials said.
Stephen M. Shutts, 42, and Francine Boykin, 50, were each charged Monday with felony theft before being released on $2,500 bond.
Shutts, co-owner of the traveling Honky Tonk Hall of Fame and Rock & Roll Roadshow, said in earlier interviews that he had purchased the notebook for an undisclosed amount this summer after being contacted about it, purportedly by Boykin, last November.
The notebook, well known in music circles, includes jottings and song lyrics from Williams, who died at the age of 29 on Jan. 1, 1953.
According to an arrest warrant, Boykin, who previously worked on a cleaning crew at Sony/ATV Music Publishing in Nashville before being fired after she was implicated in some thefts from the office, admitted taking the notebook from Sony/ATV, although Metro Police spokesman Don Aaron said she claims to have found the item in the trash.
Williams’ daughter, Jett Williams, dismissed that notion.
“If [Boykin] worked for Sony and actually rescued it from the trash, why didn’t she just give it back?” she asked. “Why did she sell it? Obviously she knew it had some value.”
Aaron said Sony/ATV did not learn about the missing notebook until officials there read about it in a Sept. 3 Chicago Sun-Times report detailing how Shutts and his business partner, Robert Reynolds, the former bassist for the Mavericks, obtained it.
The notebook has not yet been returned to Sony/ATV, according to a police statement. But Wayne Halper, Shutts’ attorney, said the Music Row artifact remains in “safekeeping.”