Great niece of Johnny Cash stabbed to death, stuffed in box

A great niece of Johnny Cash was found stabbed to death and stuffed in a box in Putnam County.

Courtney Cash's body was found Wednesday at a home in the 8100 block of Rice Road in Baxter, about 100 miles east of Nashville.

Investigators said Cash was stabbed to death with a kitchen knife during a struggle at the home in the early morning hours.

Putnam County Sheriff David Andrews said her body was found in a box approximately four feet long and two feet deep similar to a cedar chest, but not made of cedar, near the front door.

Her boyfriend, Austin Johnson, was also stabbed but managed to escape the house and drive himself to a hospital.

Johnson has since been transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. His injuries have prevented him from speaking with investigators, Sheriff Andrews said.

Cash and Johnson have a young daughter who was in the home at the time of the incident. The sheriff said Johnson managed to grab her before fleeing the home. She was not injured.

Wayne Masciarella was placed into custody for the crime and charged with first degree murder. Additional charges are pending.

The sheriff described the three as friends and said they had been out Tuesday night and got into an argument after returning to the home.

“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,” Sheriff Andrews said in a media briefing Thursday afternoon.

A motive was not immediately known, but when asked if drugs and alcohol were involved, Sheriff Andrews responded, “Probably.”

“We live in a drug-driven society. This is a senseless, tragic death of a young lady whose life was probably taken as a direct or indirect result of drugs,” he added.

Masciarella has a lengthy criminal history, with 20 entries into the Putnam County jail.

He's also been arrested in Davidson, Smith, Jackson, Cumberland and Knox counties on charges ranging from drug possession to aggravated assault.

More recently, Masciarella was arrested in May of 2013 on charges of domestic assault and vandalism.

The Cash family asked for prayers in a statement released Thursday.

“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 granddaughter, pray for the father of my great grandchild and journey through the search for justice on this violent act,” Tommy Cash, Johnny Cash's younger brother, said in the statement. He continued, “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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