Authorities say eighth victim in Tennessee killings was decapitated

Michael Cummins

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Authorities revealed Friday that there was an eighth victim in a mass killing last month in rural Tennessee and his head was found 25 yards from his body.

Seven warrants were filed Thursday and Friday on first-degree murder charges against 25-year-old Michael Cummins, who has a criminal record and a history of court-ordered mental illness evaluation. A criminal homicide warrant was filed earlier.

According to the newest affidavit, an officer was dispatched to investigate a fire and a missing resident on April 17, 10 days before the discovery of the other bodies. The officer found Jim Dunn’s headless body about 75 yards away from a burned cabin. His head was about 25 yards away from his body, it says.

Cummins was later seen with a rifle that looked like one of Dunn’s that had gone missing, and on April 27, authorities discovered Dunn’s missing rifle at a home where six of the bodies were found, including Cummins’ parents, it says.

Footprints in blood found inside that home matched a pair of girl’s shoes that Cummins admitted to wearing and leaving at his uncle’s trailer, the affidavit says.

The eight victims died from blunt force head injuries, the affidavit states. The youngest was a 12-year-old girl.

Another person was injured but alive. Cummins is charged with criminal attempt to commit first-degree murder in that case.

Once the bodies were found, Cummins fled into the woods the night of April 27, and was shot and wounded by law enforcement officers after brandishing a hatchet, another affidavit says. He also had stolen the car belonging to one of the victims and abandoned it in a creek bed, according to court records.

Cummins was arrested and hospitalized. He was released from the hospital Friday and charged. He is being held in the Tennessee Department of Corrections Special Needs Unit, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

He had been within days of being arrested for probation violations when the bodies were discovered April 27 at two of the Sumner County homes.

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.

He was released on probation in January, but his probation officer had been preparing an arrest warrant for probation violations, Sumner District Attorney Ray Whitley has said.

Cummins violated a no-contact order with the neighbor whose home he tried to burn and failed to get a required mental health evaluation, a previous affidavit says.

Cummins faced a string of charges beginning in February 2017 with the theft of a neighbor’s turkey and game camera, court records show. 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 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.

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