WESTMORELAND, Tenn. (WKRN) — Thursday marks four years since dispatchers answered a 911 call that unfolded into what is now known as Tennessee’s deadliest serial homicide.
The call led investigators with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) to a home on Charles Brown Road in Westmoreland, where they found four bodies and a severely injured woman. However, that was just the beginning. Four more bodies would be discovered in the hours and days following.
The man police believe to be responsible, Michael Cummins, is facing 12 charges related to the murders, including that of his own parents and uncle.
Cummins, who has pleaded not guilty, was initially set to stand trial earlier this month, but for unknown reasons, the trial was postponed for a third time since 2020.
There has not yet been a new trial date provided. According to previous reports, the state intends to seek the death penalty once the trial is underway.
A lot has happened since investigators received that first 911 call four years ago. Below is a timeline of all the events that have unfolded.
Saturday, April 27, 2019
Following a 911 call, the TBI agents found four bodies and a woman who had suffered serious injuries at a home on Charles Brown Road.
The only survivor was identified as Mary Hosale, Cummins’ grandmother. Hosale was taken to a hospital in critical condition.
Later that day, police found a second crime scene about a mile away on Luby Brown Road. There, officers found the body of a fifth victim later identified as Shirley Fehrle. Investigators said Cummins stole her car and ditched it nearby.
The TBI labeled the five deaths as “homicides” and issued an alert, asking residents to be on the lookout for Michael Cummins and naming him as a “person of interest” in the killings. The TBI also described him as “armed and very dangerous.”
For a few hours, the small town of Westmoreland was essentially put on lockdown until Cummins was found hiding in a nearby creek bed with a hatchet. Officers shot Cummins in the leg, and he was taken to a hospital with serious injuries.
Sunday, April 28, 2019
Forensic scientists with the TBI found the bodies of Cummins’ parents, David and Clara, at the home on Charles Brown Road, bringing the total number of deaths to seven.
The agency then began referring to Cummins as a “suspect” in the killings, rather than a “person of interest.”
As the community waited for official confirmation on the identities of the victims, dozens of people attended a service at Mt. Olive United Methodist Church to pray for the victims and their families.
Monday, April 29, 2019
The TBI held a news conference during which investigators released the identities of the seven victims and their relationships to one another and to Cummins.
Victims found at the home on Charles Brown Road:
– David Cummins (51), suspect’s father
– Clara Cummins (44), suspect’s mother
– Charles Hosale (45), suspect’s uncle
– Rachel McGlothlin-Pee (43), Charles’ girlfriend
– Sapphire McGlothlin-Pee (12), Rachel’s daughter
– Marsha Nuckols (64), Rachel’s mother
Victim found at the home on Luby Brown Road:
– Shirley Fehrle (67), suspect’s neighbor
A police report showed Fehrle “appeared to have blunt force trauma to her face as well as other injuries to her extremities.” A TBI spokesperson said it appeared the victims had been dead for at least one day when they were found.
That same day, News 2 obtained court documents revealing that Cummins had previously pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated assault and arson after setting his neighbor’s house on fire in 2017 and then attacking her as she tried to put out the flames.
He was given 10 years of probation, according to the paperwork. A separate affidavit said two witnesses who saw Cummins on the day the first bodies were found noticed he was wearing a white shirt with blood stains.
According to the affidavit, Cummins claimed the stains were chocolate and told them “If anything goes down” he would get blamed and that he was “saving a bullet for himself.”
Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Sumner County District Attorney Ray Whitley revealed a state probation officer was preparing to arrest Cummins on a probation violation one day before the bodies of the first victims were discovered.
Whitley said the warrant had been prepared Friday, April 26 for Cummins’ arrest after he violated his probation by failing to get a mental health evaluation. Cummins also reportedly violated a no-contact order with the neighbor whose house he set on fire in 2017.
The probation officer did not have a chance to get the warrant signed by a judge Friday, according to Whitley. The warrant was issued Monday, April 29 and the judge ordered Cummins be held without bond.
Hours later, the State Medical Examiner’s Office announced all seven victims had died from “blunt force” trauma, while some had also suffered “sharp force” injuries.
In an interview with News 2, Dr. Feng Li, the chief medical examiner for Metro Nashville and Davidson County, said the case was one of the worst he had ever had to deal with. All victims sustained skull fractures and bleeding on the brain.
“Very difficult to deal with, emotionally and physically, especially when you see so many victims in a family,” Li said. “A lot of blood on them, on the clothing, on the body.”
Thursday, May 2, 2019
More than 100 people gathered outside of Westmoreland Middle School for a prayer vigil to honor the victims.
Pastors and community leaders were in attendance, along with the classmates of 12-year-old Sapphire McGlothlin-Pee, the youngest victim.
Friday, May 10, 2019
Cummins was released from the hospital and booked into the Sumner County jail on eight counts of murder.
Court documents revealed the eighth murder charge was connected to the death of James Dunn Jr., who was found decapitated April 17 outside of a burned cabin on Ransom Mandrell Road.
According to an affidavit, investigators found Dunn’s body 75 yards from his home. His head had been decapitated and was found 25 yards from his body. Investigators said he was bludgeoned to death.
The murder was possibly linked to Cummins after Dunn’s rifle was found in the home on Charles Brown Road where multiple other bodies were discovered on April 27 and April 28.
Wednesday, July 3, 2019
The Office of the State Chief Medical Examiner released the full autopsy reports for seven of the eight victims. James Dunn Jr.’s autopsy report was not yet available.
The autopsies revealed many gruesome details, including that several of the victims sustained multiple lacerations to their heads and blunt force injuries all over their bodies.
Cummins pleaded not guilty to 12 charges for the eight murders.
After a few delays caused by COVID-19, a trial date was scheduled for April 20, 2022. The state also announced its plans to seek the death penalty.
Friday, April 30, 2021
Cummins appeared in court as attorneys discussed ground rules for his upcoming trial. Three family members attended the hearing, after which District Attorney General Ray Whitley told News 2 it would be a “long, long process.”
Whitley also said Mary Hosale, the sole survivor and Cummins’ grandmother, would be a key witness in the case. Hosale gave a recorded deposition in April 2021 that was put under seal because of her health and age.
Tuesday, April 19, 2022
Sumner County Assistant District Attorney Ron Blanton announced there was another postponement for the trial against Cummins. The trial was pushed to April 2023.
It was also learned that Hosale had passed away from cancer earlier that year. Blanton said her recorded deposition would be used in the trial.
Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023
Cummins appeared in court for two motions hearings. The first motion was to dismiss the entire district attorney’s office from the case after learning one of the lead prosecutors, Eric Mauldin, previously represented Cummins.
The judge ultimately denied that motion. The majority of the day was instead spent analyzing Cummins’ mental state and whether he would be competent enough to be executed.
Dr. Mary Elizabeth Wood, considered an expert in intellectual disability, described behavior and academic troubles from Cummins’ childhood and then psychiatric concerns including paranoia, depression and suicide attempts.
Monday, Jan. 30, 2023
After multiple days discussing whether Cummins was fit to stand trial, Judge Dee David Gay ruled against the defense, meaning the prosecution would still be seeking the death penalty.
The jury trial was initially expected to begin April 10, 2023 before it was postponed again.
Cummins is being housed at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in West Nashville awaiting trial.
The judge has issued a gag order in the case.
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This is a developing story. WKRN News 2 will continue to update this article as new information becomes available.