Johnny Cash’s grandniece Courtney Cash murdered, found inside a box

Courtney Cash - Johnny Cash's Grand Niece

Courtney Cash, Johnny Cash’s grandniece, was found dead inside box at her Tennessee home on Wednesday, according to Putnam County sheriff’s officials. Her friend Wayne Gary Masciarella has been arrested and charged with murder.

William Austin Johnson, who was Courtney’s boyfriend and the father of her young child, explained to investigators the couple went out with Wayne on Tuesday night. They all returned to William and Courtney’s home on early Wednesday, at which point there was an altercation. William said Wayne Gary stabbed both him and Courtney, but he was able to escape with his 20-month-old daughter.

Courtney Cash - William Austin Johnson
^Courtney Cash and William Austin Johnson in March 2013.

“He grabbed the baby and exited the house and got in a car and drove himself to the hospital,” Sheriff David Andrews told WSMV. “He was in pretty bad shape but we’ve been told he is stable.”

Authorities were able to track two 911 calls to Cash’s home. They discovered her body inside a 4 ft. by 2 ft. wooden box. They quickly apprehended Wayne Gary Masciarella.

Wayne Gary Masciarella Mug Shot - Courtney Cash Murdered
^ Wayne Gary Masciarella’s mug shot from the Putnam County sheriff’s office.

“My personal theory is that he was going to hide it for as long as he could,” Sheriff Andrews said, adding he believes the incident was drug-related.

Courtney’s grandfather, who is the late Johnny Cash’s brother, said in a statement that the family asks for prayers.

“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 reaction to his granddaughter’s death. “We are completely heartbroken. It is a time like this that we are grateful for our faith and trusting the loving guidance of God.”

William Austin Johnson is recovering from his injuries at a local hospital. Remarkably, his child with Courtney was uninjured.

Wayne Gary Masciarella is being held without bond and is scheduled to appear in court on April 12. Sheriff Andrews told CNN the suspect will likely face more charges.


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  • Jay

    The boyfriend took the baby and left without his girlfriend so she could fend for herself? That’s so messed up…

    • Hayzii

      Reminds me of the guy that left his girlfriend and baby during the mover theater shooting. Cowardly.

      • Hayzii

        Oops *movie

    • Sam

      If it came down between saving his girlfriend, or the baby, I think most people would have made the same decision. Being a parent is a stronger bond than you could have with anyone else.

      • frontdoormom

        i agree. if i were her, i would want my husband to save our children. same goes for if my husband were being attacked, he would want us to escape. its a paarent thing i guess.

        • Sam

          Absolutely. Parent instinct. I would give up my life without hesitation if it meant there would be a chance my child could survive. Who knows what would have happened to that poor baby if he would have tried to save her and got murdered too.

  • amberc88

    so he just leaves her to get stabbed to death??? sorry, but that is fishy to me! If i was in the situation and my husband just bailed on me, he had better PRAY i die, cause if i live through that, in the end he sure as hell wouldnt!!

  • Jess

    Idk.. If I had an opportunity to run away with MY child… To keep my child safe id take that chance whether it leaves someone behind… My child comes first. He was probably going on his parenting instinct.. Get his child out of danger.. If he stayed they all could of ended up dead including the baby.

    • heyBale

      Id like to hope thats the case.
      He has to feel guilty enuff without people who werent there going in on him.

      Plus add in the factor of drugs… people dont think straight if they are high. Which each of them prolly were.
      Maybe the killer had her hostage and she told him to save the kid.
      What a mess. I really feel bad but what were both of them doing out till early wednesday morning when they have a 20 month old baby?

  • WTF O.O

    Holy crap this happened in my home town! WOAH!

    • Renee L

      What city? They only state a county, but not a city.

      • heyBale

        Baxter, Tenn.
        70-80 miles east of Nashville

  • http://www.simplyetty.us/ EttySpaz

    everyone is seeing this in the wrong way, I think. I am personally under the assumption that she handed the child to her boyfriend and told him to go. I’m sure she was thinking about protecting the baby at all costs. That’s what good mothers do. What good would it have done for him to stay, having been stabbed, with the baby in his arms? Three people would have died. It’s tragic no matter what.

  • Tiffany Celestia Tolle

    i cant believe people are saying its messed up he left her! it is sad yes and i wish it hadnt of happened, but if someone was stabbing me and my husband had the chance to grab our toddler and run…then i would be so happy he did!