A medical examiner in Nashville said Tuesday the cause of death for seven people found dead at two rural Tennessee homes included multiple blunt force injuries and some sharp force injuries.
Michael Cummins, the suspect in the killings, had been within days of being arrested for probation violations when the bodies were discovered over the weekend at two Sumner County homes.
Davidson County Medical Examiner Dr. Feng Li said in a phone interview Tuesday that all seven were homicide victims. There was no evidence of bullet wounds, although Cummins hinted to acquaintances before his capture that he was armed with a gun. According to an affidavit, Cummins was wearing a blood-stained shirt when he told them, “if anything goes down, he would get blamed for it and was saving a bullet for himself.”
Cummins, 25, had been on probation after serving just 16 months of a 10-year sentence for attempting to burn down a neighbor’s house in September 2017 and assaulting her when she tried to put out the fire.
Cummins was released on probation in January, but his probation officer had been preparing an arrest warrant Friday for probation violations, Sumner District Attorney Ray Whitley said in a Tuesday phone interview.
Cummins was arrested on Saturday about a mile (1.6 kilometers) from one of the two crime scenes. He was shot and wounded while being taken into custody after authorities spotted him in a creek bed.
An affidavit filed with an arrest warrant Monday says Cummins violated a no-contact order with the neighbor whose home he tried to burn and failed to get a required mental health evaluation.
Whitley said the probation officer wasn’t able to get a judge’s signature on the warrant Friday, but, even if he had, it is unlikely Cummins would have been arrested immediately.
“It’s just a coincidence,” Whitley said.
He added that Cummins still has not been served with an arrest warrant for the killings because he was still undergoing hospital treatment after being shot.
Court records show Cummins faced a string of charges beginning in February 2017 with the theft of a neighbor’s turkey and game camera. In April, he was sentenced to probation and ordered to seek mental health treatment, but less than a month later he assaulted his grandmother while stealing his mother’s purse, the records show.
Back in court in August, he was again given probation and this time ordered to attend a domestic violence classes. It was just the next month that he tried to burn down his neighbor’s mobile home by stuffing garbage between the insulation and the floorboards and setting it on fire.
According to court records, when the neighbor walked outside to extinguish the flames, Cummins “shoved her to the ground and started pulling her hair.” She also said he had a revolver in his hand. He told officers, “when I get out, I’ll finish the job,” according to court records. The neighbor was not listed among the victims this weekend.
Whitley said he could not comment on the previous decisions to give Cummins probation despite repeated violations.
Another neighbor of Cummins said “a lot of people were scared of him” and wondered why he kept getting released. She asked to remain anonymous, saying she was afraid Cummins would come after her if he were to be released again.
“He’s been to my house before, and he’s kind of a spooky character,” she said. “I never liked having him around anywhere.”
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has identified those killed as Cummins’ parents, 51-year-old David Cummins and 44-year-old Clara Cummins; and 45-year-old uncle Charles Hosale. Also killed were 43-year-old Rachel McGlothlin-Pee, whose relationship to Cummins wasn’t clear; her 12-year-old daughter, Sapphire McGlothlin-Pee; and her mother, 64-year-old Marsha Nuckols.
Another victim, 69-year-old Shirley Fehrle, was found in a separate home and has no known relationship to Cummins. But witnesses told investigators Cummins had been driving a car that was later found abandoned and was traced to Fehrle.
An eighth victim, who authorities have said is a relative, was wounded and taken to the hospital.
Associated Press News Researcher Rhonda Shafner contributed to this report from New York City.