News/Press Releases

Mississippi Holding Couple Suspected in Serial Murders

Following a year-long investigation, state, federal, and local authorities announced today (July 8, 2005) that a man and woman incarcerated in Mississippi are suspected serial killers. The duo has been associated with a series of kidnap/murders that include the rape and torture of their victims, in Neshoba and Lafayette counties and Yukon, Oklahoma and possibly other jurisdictions. The arrests and charges are the culmination of the combined efforts of the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation (MBI), the Sheriff’s Departments in Neshoba and Lafayette Counties, District Attorneys Mark Duncan and Ben Creekmore, and the FBI.
MBI’s Cold Case Unit was instrumental in putting the cases together against the two suspects. During the past two years, MBI has participated in the FBI’s I-40 joint multi-state task force that has been investigating a series of interstate murders in the mid-south and southeast. "This long-running investigation is a prime example of the importance of comprehensive law enforcement, a coordinated effort where state law officers work alongside federal and local authorities to solve crimes," Governor Haley Barbour said. "We are committed to that kind of cooperation because it achieves the kind of results you see here today."
John Robert Williams, 28, and Rachel Cumberland, 35, are being held in the Lafayette County Detention Center. Williams pled guilty last Tuesday (July 5, 2005) to kidnapping and murder charges and has been sentenced to life plus 20 years in Neshoba County. Cumberland, also, pled guilty to manslaughter charges in Neshoba County and has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. Additionally, Williams and Cumberland have been arrested and charged with kidnap and murder in a two year old Lafayette County case that had been turned over to the MBI Cold Case Unit. In another cold case, Williams and Cumberland are awaiting a similar indictment by authorities in Yukon, Oklahoma. “As this investigation progresses, we expect that Williams and Cumberland may be linked to multiple similar murders in several states,” said Public Safety Commissioner George Phillips.
Williams was arrested on August 17, 2004 in Pearl, Mississippi by MBI agents and Neshoba County Sheriff’s Deputies. He was charged in connection with the kidnap/murder of Nikki Hill, 28, of Shuqualak. Hill’s body was found on July 18, 2004 off a Neshoba county road near MS Highway 16 West in Philadelphia.
Williams and Cumberland are charged in Lafayette County with the kidnap/murder of 24-year-old Jennifer Hyman from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The victim’s body had been dumped into the Tallahatchie River and was found August 20, 2003 near MS Highway 7, north of Oxford.
The couple is expected to face charges in Yukon, Oklahoma in another cold case homicide. Authorities in Yukon are considering charges against Williams and Cumberland in connection with the kidnap/murder of Samantha P. Patrick, 22, of Oklahoma City. “Our agents obtained information that was crucial to investigators of the Yukon Police Department that allowed them to resolve their cold case,” said MBI Director, Lieutenant Colonel Mike Berthay. Patrick’s body was found behind a grocery store on September 12, 2002.

For additional information, contact Warren Strain, Director of Public Affairs, at (601) 987-1385.