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‘It Was a Very Brutal Crime Scene, for Sure’: Concert Pianist Charged with ‘Very Violent’ Murder of S.C. Veterinary Hospital Worker

Zachary David Hughes

Zachary David Hughes

Law enforcement authorities in South Carolina arrested a concert pianist in connection with the brutal murder of a woman who was viciously stabbed in her home last month last month.

Greenville County Sheriff Hobart Lewis announced that deputies had taken 29-year-old Zachary David Hughes into custody and charged him with the Oct. 13 murder of Christina Larain Parcell, a 41-year-old veterinary hospital worker. Hughes was also charged with one count of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.

In describing the crime scene to reporters during Thursday’s press conference, Lewis said that Parcell was “murdered in a very violent way.”

“It was a very brutal crime scene, for sure,” he added.

Those who knew Parcell said she was friend with a wonderful sense of humor who had a love for animals. Parcell was also the mother of a young daughter.

Christina Parcell

Christina Parcell, Image via Facebook screengrab

The Greenville Sheriff’s Office dispatched deputies to Parcell’s home located at 122 Cane Brake Drive in Greer at approximately 11 a.m. on Oct. 13. Lewis said that “a person familiar with” Parcell found her deceased in her apartment. Investigators rushed to the scene where they discovered Parcell had been “brutally stabbed multiple times.”

An autopsy conducted by the Greenville County Coroner’s Office determined that Parcell’s death was a homicide caused by “multiple sharp force injuries.”

Over the course of several days, investigators conducted interviews, gathered evidence, and obtained surveillance footage and developed a lead in the case that made Hughes the main suspect in the murder. Lewis said surveillance camera footage and physical evidence that was found at the scene of the crime connected Hughes to the killing.

After a warrant was issued for his arrest, Hughes turned himself in to authorities on Wednesday.

Lewis said that investigators are currently unaware of any existing relationship between Hughes and Parcell prior to her murder, but noted that detectives believe she was specifically targeted in the attack.

“Whether or not they knew each other at all is still unclear,” Lewis said.

Lewis also said it “doesn’t look like he has any criminal history.”

Noting that the investigation was still ongoing, Sheriff Lewis said that it is still possible that others were involved in Parcell’s death, though he said Hughes “is our guy” concerning the actual stabbing.

Hughes was processed and is currently being held at the Greenville County Detention Center.

On his professional website, Hughes, a graduate of The Juilliard School in New York City, says he was homeschooled as a child and loved J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings books.

“Free time not spent practicing piano was employed crafting wooden replica swords from the LOTR books and movies and taking them into the Appalachian woods to do battle with the forces of darkness,” the site states. “In 2019 he felt the itch to see a different side of life, and after six months of rigorous physical training was selected from a competitive pool of candidates to attend Marine Corps Officer Candidates School in Quantico, VA. Despite earning top marks at OCS, he was dropped from training due to severe stress fractures sustained in both legs.”

In an unusual twist, Parcell was reportedly listed on a marriage application with Bradly Eugene Post, which was issued this year after being filed in June. Post was arrested on Oct. 19 and charged with five counts of first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor after investigators said they had evidence he had produced child sexual abuse material on at least five separate occasions. Lt. Ryan Flood of the Greenville Sheriff’s Office said Post’s arrest, which occurred less than a week after Parcell’s murder, was the result of an investigation unrelated to the killing.

[image via Greenville County Sheriff]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.