Concert pianist arrested for ‘brutal’ stabbing murder of veterinary nurse

Police are working to determine a motive for Zachary David Hughes’ alleged killing of Christina Parcell

Megan Sheets
Friday 05 November 2021 18:00
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A concert pianist has been arrested for the “brutal” murder of a veterinary hospital nurse in South Carolina.

Zachary David Hughes, 29, turned himself in to the Greenville County Sheriff’s office on Wednesday, three weeks after 41-year-old Christina Parcell was found stabbed to death at her home in Greer on 13 October.

At a press conference announcing Mr Hughes’ arrest, Sheriff Hobart Lewis said investigators had yet to determine a motive for the killing and did not know if the suspect and Ms Parcell knew each other.

“The victim had been brutally stabbed multiple times,” Mr Lewis said. “She was certainly murdered in a very violent way.”

“Whether at all they knew each other at all, is still unclear,” the sheriff continued. “The information regarding Hughes is also limited, other than learning he is a local pianist ... living here in Greenville. He doesn’t have a criminal history with our agency.

“We’re still working to learn more about him and why investigators believe he would commit a crime like this.”

Mr Lewis said the killing was “definitely targeted” and “very intentional”, adding: “We believe [Mr Hughes] was very specific in going to that home for a reason.”

Mr Hughes had been labelled a person of interest early in the investigation, before detectives discovered surveillance footage and physical evidence linking him to the crime, Mr Lewis said.

He is being held at the Greenville County Detention Center on charges of murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime.

Mr Lewis said more charges could be forthcoming and investigators haven’t ruled out the possibility of others being involved in the killing.

Ms Parcell’s colleagues at the Foothills Veterinary Hospital in Greenville, where she had worked as a nurse for three years, set up a memorial fund for her family ahead of her funeral on Monday.

She is survived by a “very young daughter”, police said.

Ms Parcell’s fiancé Bradly Post, 65, was arrested on child pornography charges one week after her death. It is unclear if the two cases are connected.

Mr Hughes’ professional website describes him as a graduate of the prestigious Juilliard School in New York City who has played piano at concerts around the world.

When the Covid-19 pandemic took hold in the US, Mr Hughes began performing at outdoor concerts in downtown Greenville, the website states.

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