EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 11, 2013

'Person of interest' in grisly murder held on probation violation

Bail set at $100K for Newburyport man returned from Calif.

By Mike LaBella

---- — HAVERHILL — A Newburyport man who police say is a “person of interest” in the murder and dismemberment of an Amesbury man, was ordered held on $100,000 cash bail yesterday for probation violations.

Judge Stephen Abany in Haverhill District Court ordered Reginald Cummings, 26, held on the high bail after Assistant District Attorney John DePaulo noted that Cummings owes the court money, is on probation for a drug distribution case and also has a pending case of malicious destruction of property.

Officials said he failed to appear for numerous court hearings this year on the malicious destruction charge. DePaulo also noted that Cummings was recently returned to the area on a fugitive from justice warrant.

Police considered him a “person of interest” since the recovery of the charred body parts Dennis Ray Jackson last month.

Jackson’s remains were found in two locations — inside a barrel on property owned by Bridgewater State Prison, and behind a building in Boston’s Hyde Park neighborhood. A day later, more than a dozen state, local and Boston law enforcement officials searched the Liberty Street beach house in Salisbury that Cummings had rented in September and that Jackson had visited on many occasions.

Police sources have told The Daily News of Newburyport that Jackson may have been killed and dismembered in the Salisbury apartment.

Cummings was recently returned to Massachusetts after he was arrested by San Diego police after allegedly slipping across the border from Mexico. According to the Essex County District Attorney’s Office, Cummings had waived extradition allowing him to be transported back to this area to answer for an alleged probation violation unrelated to the discovery of Jackson’s remains.

Cummings, an aspiring rapper who goes by the stage name R.E. Clipz, has performed on many stages across the area, including the Honey Pot Lounge in Seabrook, and founded Proficient Records based in Haverhill. He has been in trouble with the law before and after graduating Newburyport High School in 2005, and is known to area police as a drug dealer, according to court records.

Upon an agreement yesterday between DePaulo and Cummings’ defense lawyer, William Keefe of Boston, bail was set without prejudice, meaning Cummings’ lawyer can request a reduction in bail at any future hearing.

According to officials in Haverhill District Court, Cummings violated the terms of his probation on a case of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and conspiracy to violate the drug laws. Officials said Cummings was found guilty of the charges on Oct. 11, 2012 and was placed on probation for one year. Court officials said Cummings subsequently failed to pay court costs, failed to submit to mandatory drug testing and also failed to provide the court with a DNA sample.

According to a police report on file in Haverhill District Court, Cummings was arrested April 17, 2012 after members of the Haverhill Police Narcotics Unit witnessed a drug transaction on Locust Street between Cummings and a Nichols Street woman.

Police said that when they confronted them, the woman spit out a bag of cocaine that she’d purchased from Cummings. Police said they had received a tip that the woman had been buying cocaine from a man they later identified as Cummings.

According to police reports on file in Haverhill District Court, Cummings and a co-defendant, Sherwin Theodore of Haverhill, were charged last year with causing more than $16,000 in damages to the interior of a commercial space at 97 Locust St., second floor. Police said the two were renting the space for use as a recording studio.

According to a police, they responded to that address 10 times between April of 2011 and September of 2012 for reports of loud music, larceny, suspicious persons, illegally parked motor vehicles and a rental dispute.

Officers visited the business on the night of Aug. 31, 2012 after receiving a complaint about a large party. Police said a music show was taking place and alcoholic beverages were being served, although the event’s organizer had not obtained an entertainment licence and/or a temporary liquor permit to hold such an event. Police said they later returned and spoke with Cummings and another man, who agreed to shut the party down.

The next day, Sept. 1, the owner of the property, local electrical contractor Phil Rice, asked police to accompany him on an inspection of the property. Police said Cummings and Theodore refused to allow Rice into their business and refused to answer questions about business certificates or occupancy permits.

Police returned on Sept. 9 along with a city building inspector and advised Cummings and Theodore that they did not have a valid certificate of inspection for their recording studio and/or it had not been approved for public use.

According to a police report, Rice subsequently filed papers to evict Cummings and Theodore. His request was granted by a Haverhill District Court judge and executed that November.

Rice told police that when he inspected the property he discovered numerous damages, including walls torn down, large holes in the walls and ceilings, broken and removed floor tiles, doors cut in half, electrical wiring pulled out of the walls, damaged plumbing and heating ducts. In all, Rice estimated it would cost $16,637 to repair the damages and told police he would seek compensation for his losses.

Police subsequently brought charges of malicious destruction of property against Cummings and Theodore.

Court officials said Theodore’s case of malicious destruction was continued to June 10, 2014. They said Cummings’ case was continued to Jan. 6 for a pretrial hearing.