Police: Missing Couple Believed Dead

Published On: Oct 14 2011 02:12:12 PM EDT   Updated On: Jul 16 2005 02:13:15 AM EDT

Police believe a disabled couple missing since last week are dead. Carol and Reggie Sumner, both 61, have been missing since July 8, and authorities think the couple is buried in a shallow grave in Charlton County, Ga.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office has arrested Bruce Nixon, 18, on charges of robbery, abduction and murder, Assistant Chief Rick Graham said Friday evening in a news conference. Nixon, of Macclenny, Fla., was one of several "persons of interest" being questioned by police earlier in the day.

Three additional suspects are also being held on credit card fraud in Charleston, S.C., Graham said. Police believe Alan Wade, Tiffany Cole and Michael James Jackson are connected.

"The motive of this abduction appears to be robbery," Graham said.

Police believe the victims knew some of the suspects, though Graham said none were related to the Sumners. Police also do not consider this crime to be a random act of violence.

An off-duty Baker County officer found the couple's 1993 Lincoln Town Car Tuesday night in Sanderson, Fla., and an extensive search was conducted by authorities near the Sumners' home in St. Nicholas and near the area where the car was recovered.

The couple's daughter, Rhonda Branson, of South Carolina, called police Sunday when she was unable to reach her parents by telephone. Branson drove to Jacksonville, where she found the couple's dog inside the house. She also found food on the stove, and the couple's medication and cell phone still in the house.

This is not the first time Carol Sumner's life has been in doubt. She was shot seven times by her first husband -- who then killed himself -- in 1987. She survived, but not without complications.

"She contracted hepatitis C from a blood transfusion," Branson said. "From that, she's gotten cirrhosis, which turned into stage 1 liver cancer."

Graham said police have searched the location where the bodies are believed to be, and Saturday morning they will attempt to recover the bodies.

Charges are pending on the three South Carolina suspects.

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