MUSIC

Courtney Cash, Johnny Cash's Great-Niece, Found Stabbed To Death In A Box

03/21/2014 03:12 EDT | Updated 03/22/2014 08:59 EDT

Horrific details have emerged which left Courtney Cash, the great-niece of the late Johnny Cash, murdered and found inside a "coffee-table sized" box in Tennessee.

The Daily Mail reports the victim, 23, was stabbed to death Wednesday morning following a fight with a family friend. Wayne Gary Masciarella is charged with first-degree murder and has a court date on April 21.

David Andrews, Putnam County Sheriff said Cash's body was found in a chest near the front door of a home near Cookeville, Tennessee, 70 miles east of Nashville. Andrews said Cash and her boyfriend, William Austin Johnson, went out with a friend prior to the altercation in an apartment where Cash, Johnson and their 20-month-old daughter resided.

According to a search warrant, Johnson was stabbed multiple times also but managed to escape with the child and drove to the hospital. Johnson was treated for stab wounds at Nashville's Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Police interviewed Johnson given his medical condition and quickly identified Masciarella as the suspect. The suspect, who is currently being held without bond, was located at a Cookeville home minutes later.

The Cookeville Herald Citizen reports a 911 call was made around 10:40 a.m. local time on Wednesday, March 19. According to a warrant for Masciarella, the accused claimed he "stabbed the (female) victim with a kitchen knife and did not attempt to get the female professional medical assistance."

After Cash died, Masciarella "attempted to clean the crime scene and hide the body to avoid detection." Reports indicate the body was found crammed inside a box. An autopsy was slated on the body yesterday.

Police suspect the stabbings were likely linked 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.

As for Johnson, Tennessee television outlet WRCB-TV reports Johnson remains in stable condition.

As for Courtney Cash's family, Tommy Cash, the deceased's grandfather and brother to Johnny Cash, issued a statement following the tragic news. "We ask for your prayers for the Cash family at this time," the statement said. "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.

"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."

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