7 Including a 12-year-old Girl Confirmed Dead in Westmoreland Tennessee
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation initially said there were five dead, but continued to find bodies as they scoured two separate crime scenes in a densely wooded pocket of Sumner County near the Kentucky border.
An eighth victim was critically injured but survived.
Sumner County District Attorney Ray Whitley said the homicides, which were linked to a local man with a lengthy criminal record, were the most violent in the region’s history.
“I’ve been district attorney since 1980, and I’ve never seen anything close to this before,” Whitley said in a phone interview. “Everybody’s shocked about it and upset about it. It’s something very, very hard to grasp.”
Disturbing details of the crime and the suspect emerged as the body count grew. Multiple victims were close relatives of suspect Michael Lee Cummins, according to social media posts from family members. The TBI did not name any victims by Sunday evening. Whitley confirmed a young girl was among the dead.
“It’s terrible,” Whitley said. “About as bad as it can get.”
Whitley said there were still “many unanswered questions,” including the motive and the manner of victims’ deaths. TBI spokesman Josh DeVine said the victims’ bodies had been sent for autopsies Sunday.
Suspect Arrested Following Manhunt
Agents first arrived at the scene on Charles Brown Road Saturday evening, shortly after a family member called 911. Six bodies were ultimately discovered there. While investigating, agents found another body at a home less than a mile away on Luby Brown Road. The crime scenes are located in an isolated part of northeastern Sumner County between Westmoreland and Oak Grove communities.
Investigators said the crimes were linked and first announced Cummins, 25, as a person of interest. Cummins was named a suspect after he was taken into custody late Saturday. He was shot by law enforcement while being captured, but he was in good condition at a local hospital Sunday. Whitley said criminal charges were being finalized. In addition to the homicides, Whitley said, there was evidence that Cummins stole a car. Work on the case continued throughout the day Sunday.
Officers had patrol vehicles parked in the middle of the winding two-lane roads with blue lights flashing. Only residents were allowed to pass. DeVine said agents and forensic scientists remained at both crime scenes. Investigators were still trying to piece together a timeline for the killings late Sunday.
As the investigation wore on, neighbors on Charles Brown Road and across the county tried to make sense of the carnage. In parking lots outside churches and at restaurant Cathy’s Country Cupboard on Austin Peay Highway, they asked for details and passed along grim bits of information.
Eva Shachno, 57, and her husband, Mike, 65, watched law enforcement work the scene on Charles Brown Road, less than 100 yards away from their home, all day Sunday. The couple described the scene as “gruesome.”
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Eva Shachno said. “We went and borrowed a gun because we were scared and we didn’t have one.”
The Shachnos said they were notified of the situation Saturday evening via a phone call from Sumner County Emergency Services and told to be on the lookout for the suspect, who was believed to be in the area. The couple has lived at their home for the past 20 years, and the family who lived in the home where the victims were found had lived there longer than they had, Eva Shachno said. Over the years, Eva Shachno said she’d waved at various family members at the address where the bodies were found, but she’d never been inside the home.
Cummins Had a Violent History
Cummins had an extensive criminal record in Sumner County, according to court records confirmed by Sheriff Sonny Weatherford. He pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated arson and aggravated assault in Sumner County on July 19. A family friend said Cummins had tried to set a neighbor’s home on fire.
Other guilty pleas included domestic assault in August 2017, evading arrest in April 2017, theft in April 2017 and probation violations, Weatherford confirmed. Mike Shachno said Cummins should have remained behind bars on the arson-related charge.
“I can’t believe they let him out of jail,” Mike Shachno said. “He should’ve never been out.”
Even with Cummins back in custody, the Shachnos remained shaken.
“I feel better knowing he’s caught, but my husband and I are both shaking like a leaf,” Eva Shachno said. “We’re all tore up.”
We are here to answer all of your questions and provide assurance in times of uncertainty. If you have a case or have questions about your legal rights, then please contact us at any time for a free consultation.