Michael Cummins, the 25-year-old Westmoreland man police say is responsible for the worst homicide event in Tennessee in at least 20 years, has been linked to an additional eighth murder that occurred last month in northern Sumner County.
On Friday, Cummins was charged with first degree murder in connection with the death of 63-year-old James “Jim” Dunn Jr. on April 17, just 10 days before the bodies of seven other victims were discovered at two separate homes northwest of Westmoreland.
“His murder was committed in the same type of manner as the seven others,” Sumner County District Attorney Ray Whitley said when contacted by phone Friday afternoon. “It’s very, very gruesome. To have eight bodies attributed to one (suspect) is something that is unprecedented here as far as I’m concerned.
“We don’t anticipate that there will be any more bodies attributed to Michael Cummins,” Whitley added. “This should be it.”
Sumner County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the 1200-block of Ransom Mandrell Road in Westmoreland on April 17 to search for Dunn who had gone missing after a fire at his cabin, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by the Gallatin News.
His headless body was eventually located approximately 75 yards from the residence. An autopsy found his death was caused by blunt force trauma.
“He had been there awhile when his body was found,” Whitley said. “We don’t know whether (the beheading) was done during the course of the homicide or because of deterioration or animal activity.”
During the investigation, detectives learned that a rifle had been stolen from Dunn, which was later found alongside six murder victims inside a home at 1177 Charles Brown Road on Saturday, April 27.
According to affidavits, Cummins had been carrying a rifle earlier that same day that matched the description of the one that had been taken from Dunn. He had also made statements that he had stolen property from the “chicken man,” which was a reference to the 63-year-old.
New details in mass murder investigation
In addition to Dunn, Cummins has also been charged with the murder of seven other people at two homes last month.
The victims include his father David Carl Cummins, 51; his mother Clara Jane Cummins, 44; his uncle Charles Edward Hosale, 45; Rachel Dawn McGlothlin-Pee, 43; her daughter Sapphire McGlothlin-Pee, 12; Rachel’s mother Marsha Elizabeth Nuckols, 64; and 69-year-old Shirley B. Fehrle.
A day before the bodies were found on April 27, police say Cummins had worn shoes that have been linked to at least one of the crime scenes, according to an arrest affidavit.
“Michael Cummins has admitted to wearing the “girls” shoes and leaving them at 245 Keen Hollow Road,” according to the affidavit. “The tread pattern on the “girls” shoes is consistent with shoe impressions, in what appears to be blood, found inside 1177 Charles Brown Road.”
All of the victims died from blunt force injuries, according to Dr. Feng Li, chief medical examiner for Davidson County. Some of those injuries were caused by a sharp object such as a knife or similar item.
An additional victim, Cummins’ grandmother, was also found critically injured at the Charles Brown Road home and was transported to a local hospital.
Following the gruesome murders, law enforcement agencies from across the region began a massive manhunt for Cummins on April 27. He was eventually located by a TBI aircraft hiding in a creek bed approximately one mile from the initial crime scene.
When more than a dozen member of Sumner County’s SWAT team moved in to take him into custody, Cummins was shot by at least one officer after brandishing a hatchet, according to police and court documents. Cummins was later taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
On Friday, Cummins was discharged from the hospital and transported to the Sumner County Jail, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. He is currently being held in the Tennessee Department of Corrections Special Needs Unit.
His charges include eight counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted first degree murder and one count theft of property valued at more than $10,000, according to Whitley.