Courtney Cash, the great niece of late country music legend Johnny Cash, was found dead with her body stuffed in a box this week at her Tennessee home, and now a suspect is in custody.
Officials were alerted about a struggle at Cash's Baxter home when her boyfriend, William Austin Johnson, stumbled into Nashville's Vanderbilt Medical Center early Wednesday, claiming that the couple's mutual friend, Wayne Masciarella, had attacked them both, WATE-TV reported.
Johnson told police that Masciarella, 27, stabbed 23-year-old Cash to death during an argument. Johnson also sustained wounds during the struggle but managed to escape and drive himself to the hospital.
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Putnam County Sheriff David Andrews told WATE-TV that officials later found Cash's body in a 4-foot long box, similar to a cedar chest, near the front door.
Masciarella, of Cape May, N.J., was arrested on a first-degree murder charge and may also face other charges, CNN reported.
"It's our understanding that at about 3 or 4 a.m. [Wednesday] morning, the three had been out together somewhere. They came home, a struggle ensued, and that's when the stabbings occurred," Andrews told WATE-TV, adding that drugs and alcohol were "probably" involved.
"We live in a drug-driven society," the sheriff continued in a media briefing Thursday. "This is a senseless, tragic death of a young lady whose life was probably taken as a direct or indirect result of drugs."
Masciarella reportedly has a 20-arrest rap sheet in Putnam County. The last was in May 2013 for domestic assault and vandalism.
Courtney Cash was the granddaughter of Tommy Cash, the brother of the late entertainer, The Tennessean reported.
"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,'' Tommy Cash said in a statement. "We are completely heartbroken. It is a time like this that we are grateful for our faith and trusting the loving guidance of God."
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