Reggie and Carol Sumner
Summary of Offense:
Alan Lyndell Wade and codefendants Tiffany Ann Cole, Michael James Jackson and Bruce Kent Nixon were convicted for the July 8, 2005, robbery, kidnapping and first-degree murders of Reggie and Carol Sumner, a retired couple living in Jacksonville, Florida.
The group’s plan to rob the couple originated from codefendant Tiffany Ann Cole’s information, which was gained as a result of a prior relationship with the Sumners. The Sumners had been neighbors of Cole when they lived in South Carolina. Wade knew Jackson and his girlfriend, Cole, because he had visited and partied with them in South Carolina in the summer of 2005 and had known codefendant Jackson for at least a year. In June 2005, Cole and Jackson visited Wade, who lived in Jacksonville. During this visit, the Sumners let Cole and Jackson stay with them in Jacksonville.
In June, Wade arrived at his longtime friend Nixon’s home in Jacksonville driving a Mazda RX-8 that Cole had rented in South Carolina. Wade told Nixon of a vague plan to rob someone but offered no specifics. Two evenings before the murders, Wade contacted Nixon and asked whether Nixon would like to join him, Jackson, and Cole in digging a hole. Nixon agreed and stole four shovels from his neighborhood before the others arrived at his home in the Mazda.
The foursome searched for and decided on a good location for the hole—a remote, wooded area just across the state line in Georgia. They dug a large, deep hole and returned to the car. Wade asked Jackson if Nixon could join their robbery plan and Jackson agreed. In preparation, the defendants purchased disposable rubber gloves, duct tape, a large roll of plastic wrap and a toy gun that shot plastic pellets. At approximately 10:00 p.m. on July 8, 2005, Cole drove her three codefendants in the rented Mazda RX-8 to the Sumners’ home. She and Jackson remained in the car while Wade and Nixon approached the residence. When Carol Sumner opened the door, they asked to use her phone, and she invited them in. Upon entering, Wade pulled out the phone line while Nixon pointed the toy gun at the couple. Nixon took the couple into the spare bedroom and used duct tape to secure their hands and legs and cover the mouths and eyes. Jackson then entered the house after being signaled the victims were secured. Wade and Jackson began searching for financial information. A pile of mail and financial statements and Mr. Sumner’s coin collection were taken to the Mazda.
At Jackson’s direction, Wade and Nixon walked the Sumners out to their own Lincoln Town Car and put the couple in its trunk. According to the plan, the two headed for the pre-dug grave where, upon arrival, Wade and Jackson buried the couple alive. Later, Wade and Jackson drove the Lincoln up to the road where Cole and Nixon waited. Jackson held a yellow legal pad and reported that it contained the previously unknown personal identification numbers (PINS) for the Sumners’ bank cards. Then, with Wade and Nixon in the Lincoln and Cole in the Mazda, the foursome drove to Sanderson, Florida, where they abandoned the Lincoln after wiping it clean of prints. They left the four shovels in the trunk.
All four defendants then returned to Jacksonville in the Mazda. They withdrew money from one of the Sumners’ accounts at an ATM machine and went to their hotel. They also returned to the Sumners’ home and stole the computer. Nixon stayed with the defendants for another day and then went home. Wade stayed with Cole and Jackson and traveled with them to Charleston, South Carolina. There Cole rented two hotel rooms—one for her and Jackson and one for Wade.
Carol Sumner reported her inability to contact her parents to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office on July 10. On July 12, the car was found. An investigation by law enforcement showed an unusual number of recent ATM withdrawals. Video from the ATMs showed Michael Jackson’s face and a silver Mazda in the background. Wade called Nixon to tell him that the Lincoln had been found.
On July 14, Jackson, Cole and Wade were located and arrested at their South Carolina hotel and their rooms were searched pursuant to warrants. Carol Sumner’s key ring, which contained the keys to the Lincoln, was found on the nightstand in Wade’s room. In Cole and Jackson’s room, officers found a suitcase full of the Sumners’ financial records, bags of recent purchases made on the Sumners’ accounts, receipts for those purchases and for purchases made earlier in Jacksonville and other items, including the Sumners’ driver licenses, credit and bank cards, and checks and check register. Notably, a check for $8,000 on the Sumners’ account had been made payable to Alan Wade. Officers also searched Cole’s car, a Chevy Lumina, and the Mazda, which had not been returned to the rental agency but had been recovered by law enforcement officers. In the Lumina, the officers found Reggie Sumner’s coin collection and, in the Mazda, they found Wade’s fingerprints on one of the victim’s magazines. They also found an unused roll of plastic wrap with Cole’s and Jackson’s fingerprints on it.
Nixon was arrested, and he took officers to the Georgia gravesite. A roll of duct tape was found there. On the morning of July 15, law enforcement officers began the excavation of the gravesite. Both victims were found fully clothed and sitting in crouched positions, with at least two feet of dirt over their heads. The medical examiner testified that both Reggie and Carol were alive in the hole before the dirt was shoveled in on them. Their mouths, nostrils, throats, esophagi, and tracheae contained fine sprays of dirt, indicating that the dirt was inhaled. Both victims died of a combination of mechanical asphyxiation, as the dirt compressed their chests and abdomens, and smothering, as the dirt piled up around their heads and obstructed their noses and mouths.
Jackson was sentenced to death in Duval County on August 29, 2007.
Tiffany Cole was sentenced to death. For more on Cole, see: http://www.cncpunishment.com/forums/...t=tiffany+cole
Alan Wade was sentenced to death. For more on Wade, see: http://www.cncpunishment.com/forums/...rida-Death-Row
Bruce Kent Nixon received two concurrent sentences of 45 years (pleaded guilty to second-degree murder).