Courtney Cash, the great niece of country legend Johnny Cash, and the granddaughter of Johnny Cash’s brother Tommy Cash, was brutally stabbed and murdered early Wednesday morning in Putnam County, TN, and stuffed inside a wooden box in her home. Her boyfriend, William Austin Johnson who shared the house with Cash and their young daughter, was also stabbed multiple times, but survived the incident. Johnson fled the scene with their 20-month-old daughter and drove himself to a hospital in White County. He is currently at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in stable condition.
The suspect is 27-year-old Wayne Gary Masciarella, who was arrested in Cookeville, TN and charged with 1st Degree Murder. According to Putnam County Sheriff David Andrews, Masciarella has been booked into custody at least “20 times” previously. According to reports, Masciarella was a friend of Cash and Johnson, and had been invited into their home. An altercation and struggle ensued potentially over drugs, that resulted in the stabbings. Apparently the three had been at a store nearby earlier Tuesday night, and witnesses were interviewed at that scene as part of the investigation.
Police initially received a 911 call about 10:40 a.m. Wednesday, but the ping location from the call took sheriff’s to a location 1/4 of a mile down the road from the actual call. A second call came in roughly 20 minutes later, which led police to the scene. Police waited to obtain a search warrant before fully entering the premises, but found Courtney near the front door, stuffed into what Sheriff David Andrews described as a wooden box like a cedar chest, but not made out of cedar.
Though no specifics have been given, Sheriff Andrews alluded to reporters that drugs were involved in the incident. “This was a senseless, tragic death of a young lady whose life was probably taken as a direct or indirect result of drugs, and that’s just the world we live in. It’s just unfortunate that our people in our society lean so heavily on drugs to get through life,” said the Sheriff.
Tommy Cash, though not a well-known as his brother Johnny, is a noted songwriter and performer himself. The 73-year-old musician once performed in Hank Williams Jr.’s band, and is known for penning the 1969 hit “Six White Horses” about the killings of The Kennedy’s and Martin Luther King. Tommy Cash has released over 20 albums and has had 12 Top 40 hits. Tommy has released a statement about the incident.
We ask for your prayers for the Cash family at this time. 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.