Officials release information on stabbing death
Posted By Sparta Live | March 24, 2014 12:00 am
Authorities have released information on the stabbing of a Putnam County couple, a case that has made national headlines and has White County ties.
In a media briefing, Putnam County Sheriff David Andrews stated that Courtney Cash, her boyfriend William Austin Johnson and Wayne Masciarella, who Andrews describes as a friend of the couple, had been out together. Andrews says the three returned to the couple’s Baxter home, on Rice Road, near the northern White County line, sometime between 3 and 4 a.m.
A struggle reportedly took place, which ended in the stabbing of Cash and Johnson.
Andrews states that White County Sheriff Department received a 911 call at approximately 10:40 that morning.
According to White County Sheriff Oddie Shoupe, the caller stated a stabbing had taken place at a Johnson residence, on Luna Road, in White County. Shoupe said his officers went to two Johnson residences but could find no sign of a stabbing.
Andrews reports the cell phone location was traced to a quarter-mile from the residence. A second call led officers to the correct address on Rice Road. His officers went inside the home and immediately saw the body of a young female, who has been identified as Cash, just inside the front door in a box Andrews describes as being similar to a cedar chest.
When asked about the possible motive for placing the body in the box, Andrews states, “My personal theory is he was going to hide [the body] for as long as he could.”
While Putnam County investigators began to probe the scene on Rice Road, which Andrews states was one of the bloodier scenes he has witnessed, Shoupe says he received information about a man at Highlands Medical Center in Sparta who reportedly had stab wounds.
According to Shoupe, when officers spoke to the victim, who has now been identified as Johnson, at the hospital, Johnson told officers that his parents were residents of Luna Road and that after being stabbed at his home on Rice Road, he fled to his parents’ house. His sister then drove him to Highlands Medical Center.
In the media briefing, Andrews states that before fleeing the scene, Johnson grabbed his young child, who was in the home at the time of the stabbing. Andrews says that Johnson may have been the individual who called 911 while driving to White County, which Andrews says must have taken great strength as he was “stabbed more than once.”
Johnson was then transferred by helicopter to Vanderbilt in critical condition, although by March 20 Andrews says his condition was listed as stable.
Over 24 hours after the incident, Andrews reported that officers were continuing to work the crime scene, as well as locations in White County, which included the hospital and interviewing witnesses.
Sheriff Shoupe, along with detectives Chris Isom and John Ford, reported to the crime scene in Putnam County. A White County K-9 team also responded to the scene.
Deputy Donnie Qualls and Detective John Meadows were dispatched to the home of Johnson’s parents to secure Johnson’s vehicle. Two Putnam County detectives arrived at the home to process the car for any evidence.
Andrews states he believes that drugs possibly played a role in the stabbing.
“We live in a drug-driven society,” he said. “This is a senseless, tragic death of a young lady whose life was probably taken as a direct or indirect result of drugs.”
Masciarella was arrested in Cookeville and charged with first-degree murder. Andrews says further charges were pending and that Masciarella was being held without bond. A court date was set for April 21.
Andrews says Masciarella has an extensive criminal history that includes 20 entries into the Putnam County Jail.