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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