The killings came to light in April 2019 after several bodies were discovered at three separate crime scenes in Tennessee. The first was discovered on April 17, when the authorities found a headless body outside a burning home in Westmoreland, Tenn., about 40 miles northeast of Nashville. The body was later identified as that of James Fox Dunn Jr., General Whitley said, adding that the authorities were unable to determine how Mr. Dunn’s head and body had been separated.

“He’d been out there about 10 days,” General Whitley said, “so animals may have taken his head off his body.”

Ten days later, on April 27, the authorities found the bodies of six people inside a mobile home in Westmoreland, according to an arrest affidavit filed in Sumner County in 2019. All had died of blunt force trauma to the head. Three of the bodies were identified as those of Mr. Cummins’s parents, David Carl Cummins, 51, and Clara Jane Cummins, 44, and his uncle, Charles Edward Hosale, 45.

The other three bodies were identified as those of Rachel Dawn McGlothlin-Pee, 43; her 12-year-old daughter, Sapphire McGlothlin-Pee; and her mother, Marsha Elizabeth Nuckols, 64. It is unclear whether those victims had any connection to Mr. Cummins.

That same day, Shirley B. Fehrle, a retired nurse, was found dead in her home, about a mile from the mobile home. Ms. Fehrle, who also died of blunt force trauma to the head, did not have a known connection to Mr. Cummins. The authorities believe that he killed her to steal her black Kia Forte, General Whitley said.

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