A concert pianist who studied at the country’s most prestigious music school described himself as “on a mission to fill the world with the music of his favorite composer.” A South Carolina sheriff called it a “brutal crime scene.”
Zachary Hughes, a 29-year-old pianist trained in Julliard, stabbed Christina Parcell, a 41-year-old veterinary technician, to death last month, according to the Greenville County Sheriff’s Department. The relationship between the two is unclear to the authorities.
Parcell’s corpse was found at his home in Greer, South Carolina, on Oct. 15, two days after the alleged murder, with “several sharp wounds,” police said.
Two other men linked to Parcell were recently arrested: Bradly Post, Parcell’s fiancée, for child pornography, and John Mello, who shared a child with Parcell, for childcare.
“She was brutally stabbed… It was a very brutal crime scene for sure,” Greenville Sheriff Hobart Lewis said.
Hughes writes on his website that he is “on a mission to fill the world with the music of his favorite composer and lifelong hero, Ludwig van Beethoven,” performing in North America, Europe and Japan. He was in Greenville as part of a partnership with the Sigal Music Museum to make live video recordings of Beethoven’s piano sonatas on modern and historic instruments for his YouTube and Patreon channels. According to Hughes’ website, he was often found playing the piano in downtown Greenville last year as performance venues were closed.
Hughes said he took military training at the Marine Corps Officer Candidate School in 2019 but was dropped out due to severe stress fractures. While recovering, he received the offer to record Beethoven in Greenville, he writes. Hughes also paints himself as a youngster the Lord of the Rings fan, delighted to “make replica wooden swords” and “take them to the woods of the Appalachians to fight the forces of darkness”.
The musician surrendered on Wednesday charged with murder and possession of a weapon in a violent crime. Lewis said unspecified “physical evidence” links Hughes, who has no criminal history, to the crime scene, much like CCTV.
Greenville Sheriff Hobart Lewis said: “I think it was more than obvious that he intended to kill her and he went over there for that reason… We don’t know why. We don’t know what his motive really was.