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Juilliard-Trained Concert Pianist Is Accused Of Stabbing Vet Tech To Death
Greenville County Sheriff Hobart Lewis said the violent murder was “very intentional” but investigators are still trying to figure out why Zachary David Hughes allegedly targeted the 41-year-old mom in her home.
A Juilliard-trained concert pianist has been accused of stabbing a South Carolina vet tech to death in what investigators have described as a “very violent” murder.
Zachary David Hughes, 29, is now facing murder charges in the death of Christina Parcell after the 41-year-old mom was found “brutally stabbed” to death in her Canebrake home on Oct. 13, according to local station WYFF.
“It was a very brutal crime scene for sure,” Greenville County Sheriff Hobart Lewis said during a press conference on Thursday, adding that it had been a “very violent” death.
Lewis said investigators believe Lewis targeted Parcell, although they are still trying to determine a possible motive.
“I think it was more than obvious that he intended to kill her and he went over there for that reason," Lewis said, according to the local news station. "Talking about the murder itself, it was very intentional. We don’t know why. We don’t know what the motive really was.”
Investigators are still trying to determine what, if any, connection Hughes had to Parcell.
Lewis said they were able to link him to the crime using physical evidence and surveillance video, according to The Greenville News.
Hughes turned himself into authorities on Wednesday, alongside his attorney.
Just one week after Parcell was killed in her home, her fiancé 65-year-old Bradly Eugene Post was arrested and charged with multiple counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, according to local station WHNS.
John Mello, another man who shared a child with Parcell, also turned himself into authorities that same day on child custody charges, WSPA reports.
Authorities have said they are currently trying to determine whether Hughes had any connection to either man.
“It’s a very unique investigation that has led to a lot of other different things, so there will certainly be other charges coming," Lewis said, according to WYFF. "There could be other people involved. If you’re talking about the actual murder, Mr. Hughes is our guy.”
Lt. Ryan Flood, a public information officer with the sheriff's office, told Oxygen.com that Parcell's young daughter was not home at the time of the murder and said the investigation "is still ongoing."
Hughes, a Greenville-based concert pianist, graduated from The Juilliard School, a prestigious art school in New York City, and has performed in the United States, Canada, U.K., France, Germany and Japan, according to his website.
Hughes called composer Ludwig van Beethoven his “favorite composer and lifelong hero” and celebrated the musician's 250th birthday in December of 2020 by creating live video recordings of all 32 Beethoven piano sonatas.
According to Lewis, it didn’t appear that Hughes had any past criminal history in South Carolina.
Before her death, Parcell had worked for three years as a vet tech at the Foothills Veterinary Hospital, according to WSPA.
The veterinary hospital’s owner, Dan Randall, told the news outlet, that her coworkers were “in shock” when they learned of her death.
“We just got the call from an attorney that she was gone, and immediately we just all sort of felt, I guess we all just kind of walk around like zombies that first day, it felt like a bad dream,” he said. “Over the next day or so we kind of learned details of the crime and it’s just so heartbreaking to think about somebody you care about having to go through something like that.”
Randall described the slain vet tech as someone who “did just a really good job of exhibiting compassion and empathy” and made friends easily at the workplace.
“Not only was Christina a great veterinarian technician. She was a mom. She had a fiancé, and a sister here in town,” Randall said. “When you work in a small office, your family life sort of filters into the workplace in a lot of respects and we traveled some difficult journeys with her over the last three years, and I’d just like people to know, she was an amazing person.”