After someone allegedly kidnapped country music star Tammy Wynette at gunpoint in the late ’70s, she said the incident changed her life and the way she lived it. She publicly recounted a violent, harrowing story of the ordeal that drew suspicious eyes from some.
Despite facing the public with fresh bruises on their faces, some people didn’t believe Wynette’s kidnapping story and suggested that she made it up for one reason or another. Like many people, she didn’t appreciate the fact that these so-called “nuts” revealed her doubts about her story and broke her heart.
In a still-unsolved crime, Wynette alleged that a gunman pulled her from a parking lot in October 1978 and forced her to drive far out of the city of Nashville, Tennessee. This was in the years following her divorce from George Jones, whose name has come up in discussions about the crime.
“I wake up and I’m like, why didn’t I just ram the car into an empty car in the parking lot? I can think of a hundred things I could have done,” Wynette told the Washington Post. “But then again, I think, well, I’m alive.”
She added: “If I had done that, he might have shot me. They would have caught him, but still – I would be dead.”
According to Wynette, the incident changed her life as she declared, “I love my freedom. It’s not my nature to always have someone with me when I move, every time I go shopping or pick up food.”
She said it “doesn’t feel very good knowing someone has to be with you”.
“On the other hand, ever since it happened,” she noted, “I’ve been looking at people and cars and I’m like, ‘Is that the one?'”
Although the scenario Wynette described would be traumatizing enough, she was also struck by what people were saying about it. She read stories accusing her of making it all up, and said they were heartbreaking.
“Two-thirds of the people were wonderful,” the “Stand By Your Man” singer said (The Washington Post). “The other third, I have to say, were the weirdos who said it was all over [a] Publicity stunt that broke my heart or that it was done to cover up an affair I was having.”
She added, “That was all in People magazine that killed me.”
Among those who claimed Wynette’s story about a masked gunman who kidnapped and assaulted her was untrue were her daughters. But they said she made it up to cover up abuse from her fifth husband.
“She admitted to my sister that when all this stuff about her kidnapping in 1978 came out, she and Richey had had a fight and he had hit her,” wrote Georgette Jones in her memoir. The three of us: growing up with Tammy and George per country life.
Jones also shared her understanding of why her mother agreed to the plan and stayed in the marriage, noting, “He was threatening to ruin her life and write a tell-all book, so she decided to stay with him.”
How to get help: In the US, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or text START to 88788.