A concert pianist who studied at the nation’s most prestigious music school described himself as “on a mission to fill the world with the music of his favorite composer.” But that mission was cut short when he ended up allegedly stabbing a woman death in what a South Carolina sheriff called “a brutal crime scene.”
Zachary Hughes, a 29-year-old Julliard-trained pianist, 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 authorities.
Parcell’s corpse was found in her Greer, South Carolina home on Oct. 15, two days after the alleged murder, with “multiple sharp force injuries,” police said.
Two other men connected to Parcell were recently arrested: Bradly Post, Parcell’s fiancee, on child pornography charges, and John Mello, who shared a child with Parcell, on child custody charges.
“She was brutally stabbed… It was a very brutal crime scene, for sure,” said Greenville sheriff Hobart Lewis.
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 throughout 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 both modern and historical instruments for his YouTube and Patreon channels. According to Hughes’ site, he could often be found playing piano in downtown Greenville last year, since performance venues were closed.
Hughes said he underwent military training at Marine Corps Officer Candidates School in 2019 but was dropped due to severe stress fractures. While recovering, he got the offer to record Beethoven in Greenville, he writes. Hughes also paints a picture himself as a youthful Lord of the Rings fan, thrilled with “crafting wooden replica swords” and “taking them into the Appalachian woods to do battle with the forces of darkness.”
The musician turned himself in Wednesday charged with murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime. Lewis said unspecified “physical evidence” links Hughes, who has no prior criminal history, to the crime scene, as does video surveillance.
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.”