The great-niece of the late singer Johnny Cash has been found stabbed to death and crammed into a container in her Tennessee home after a fight with a family friend.
Putnam County Sheriff David Andrews said 23-year-old Courtney Cash's body was discovered Wednesday morning in a home near Cookeville, about 70 miles east of Nashville.
Cash's body was found in a chest just inside the front door, Andrews said. A man identified as William Austin Johnson, Cash's boyfriend, was being treated for stab wounds at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.
Andrews said the couple had gone out with a friend before an altercation took place in the house on rice Road where Johnson and Cash lived with their 20-month-old daughter.
The friend, identified as Wayne Gary Masciarella, 26, has been charged with first-degree murder.
Despite being stabbed multiple times, Johnson was able to get out of the house with his daughter and drive himself to the hospital, Andrews said.
The scene inside the house was 'somewhat bloody,' Andrews told reporters at a news conference. 'There was a struggle,' the sheriff added.
According to an arrest warrant for Masciarella obtained by Herald-Citizen, investigators claim he stabbed Miss Cash with a kitchen knife at around 10.40am and then hid her body in a chest in a bid to cover up the crime.
The box was described as coffee-table size case measuring 4 feet by 1.5 feet and 2 feet deep, according to NewsChannel5.
A motive was not released, but Andrews indicated the stabbings were likely connected to drugs. 'This is a senseless, tragic death of a young lady whose life was probably taken as a direct or indirect result of drugs,' Andrews said.
Johnny Cash's brother, Tommy Cash, released a statement asking for prayers for the family after the loss of his granddaughter. ‘Courtney and her boyfriend are beloved members of my family and like you we have a lot of questions and emotions that we are beginning to sort through today,’ Mr Cash said in the statement posted on Facebook. ‘We ask for you to respect our privacy and appreciate all the support that the public and media has always offered my family, as we handle the loss of my grand-daughter, pray for the father of my great-grand child and journey through the search for justice on this violent act. We are completely heartbroken. It is a time like this that we are grateful for our faith and trusting the loving guidance of God.’
Masciarella is being held without bond. He has a court date scheduled for April 21.
The man has a vast criminal history, with 20 arrests in Putnam County alone. As recently as last month, the 26-year-old was charged with theft of merchandise and released on $500 bond.
[pictured: Courtney with her boyfriend and their son]
March 20, 2014