Johnny Cash's great-niece was found murdered Wednesday morning (March 19) at her home in Baxter, Tenn., a community located approximately 75 miles east of Nashville.
Investigators for the Putnam County Sheriff's Department identified the victim as 23-year-old Courtney Jean Cash. She was the granddaughter of Tommy Cash, the younger brother of the late Johnny Cash.
According to Herald-Citizen newspaper in Cookeville, Tenn., she had been stabbed to death and her body hidden in a box. Austin Johnson, the victim's boyfriend, was seriously injured and remained in critical condition Thursday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.
Wayne Gary Masciarella, 26, of Cookeville was arrested Wednesday and charged with first degree murder. He is being held without bond in the Putnam County jail.
Putnam County Sheriff David Andrews said Masciarella is believed to be an acquaintance of the couple and had likely been allowed inside their home before the altercation occurred. Cash and Johnson are parents of a young daughter.
"We ask for your prayers for the Cash family at this time," Tommy Cash, 73, said Thursday in a written statement. "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 granddaughter, pray for the father of my great-grandchild 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."