Johnny Cash's Great-Niece Murdered

Courtney Cash's death thought to be linked to drugs

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 21, 2014 8:59 AM CDT | Updated Mar 21, 2014 10:58 AM CDT

(Newser) – Police this week found the body of Johnny Cash's great-niece stabbed to death and stuffed in a cedar box in the Tennessee home where she lived with her boyfriend and their young daughter, the AP reports. Courtney Cash, 23, and boyfriend William Austin Johnson met up with a friend, Wayne Gary Masciarella, Tuesday night; an altercation reportedly took place in the house. Johnson fled with the 20-month-old baby girl, WSMV reports, and was hospitalized with stab wounds; police found Cash's body Wednesday morning.

The scene was "somewhat bloody," the sheriff says. "There was a struggle." Cash's body was inside a chest just inside the front door, and the sheriff says the suspect may have been attempting to hide her body. Masciarella, 27, has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder; no motive has been released, but the sheriff says the stabbings were likely "a direct or indirect result of drugs." Courtney Cash was the granddaughter of Johnny Cash's brother Tommy. Her baby was unhurt, the Tennessean reports.

In a 1999 file photo, the late country music legend Johnny Cash poses at his Hendersonville, Tenn. home.
In a 1999 file photo, the late country music legend Johnny Cash poses at his Hendersonville, Tenn. home.   (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, file)
In this 1969 file photo, country singer Johnny Cash is photographed at an unknown location.
In this 1969 file photo, country singer Johnny Cash is photographed at an unknown location.   (AP Photo, file)
This is a 1977 file photo of musician Johnny Cash.
This is a 1977 file photo of musician Johnny Cash.   (AP Photo/FILE)
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