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Putnam County Man Charged In Woman's Murder

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Putnam County Man Charged In Woman's Murder

CREATED Mar 26, 2014

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Deputies have made an arrest in the stabbing death of a woman who was found in a wooden chest in the living room at a Putnam County home. 

Officials charged 27-year-old Wayne Gary Masciarella with first degree murder. They said Masciarella killed Courtney Cash and stabbed her boyfriend, Austin Johnson. 

The Putnam County Sheriff's Office said the body of Courtney Cash was found inside a large wooden chest at the home on Rice Road in Baxter on Wednesday morning.

Putnam County Sheriff David Andrews said Cash was stabbed to death during a struggle at the home early Wednesday. He said the attack was likely fueled by drugs, but did not elaborate.

Johnson was also stabbed multiple times. He was able to get out of the home with the couple's young daughter and drive himself to a hospital in White County. The child was not hurt.

Johnson was later transferred to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, where he was said to be in critical condition.

Authorities arrested Masciarella in Cookeville. He was charged with first degree murder, but additional charges were expected. He was held without bond with a court date set for April 21.

Masciarella has a lengthy criminal history, according to authorities, including charges for theft, aggravated assault, evading arrest, possession, public intoxication, violation of probation and failure to appear in court. 

Cash was the granddaughter of Tommy Cash, Johnny Cash's brother. 

"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," Tommy Cash said in a statement. "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."

Deputies with the Putnam County Sheriff's Office were called to the home Wednesday morning, about three miles north of Burgess Falls State Park.

Officials said the call was made from a cell phone, and the ping to their system from the phone indicated an address further down the road. It took them about 30 minutes to find the correct location.

When they found the correct home, they found Cash's body inside a wooden box in the living room. The box and body were loaded into an ambulance Wednesday evening. The box was only about 4 feet long by about 1.5 to 2 feet deep. It was apparently already in the house before the attack.

Officials said Cash and Johnson lived together at the home, with their young daughter.

Authorities said Cash, Johnson, and Masciarella had been out somewhere together Tuesday night, and a struggle ensued when they came back to the home.

"The first thing that comes to my mind is a friendship gone bad," said Sheriff DavidAndrews. "That's exactly what it looks like – that friends were either hanging out together, had been somewhere and came here. Some altercation broke out and we have one woman deceased."