Couple investigated for ties to series of Midwest murders

| 7/25/2005

Officials from five states are questioning two suspects in connection with the killings of a number of prostitutes at truck stops across the Midwest.

John Robert Williams, 28, and Rachel Cumberland, 35 – both of whom are being held in the Lafayette County Detention Center in Mississippi after pleading guilty in the death of prostitute Nikki Hill of Shuqualak, MS – are also being investigated for possible involvement in the killing of several other prostitutes, according to the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.

On July 5, Williams – a long-haul trucker who worked for a number of different trucking companies – pleaded guilty to the kidnapping and murder of Hill and received a sentence of life plus 20 years in prison. Cumberland, who said she often rode along with Williams in the truck, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the case and has been sentenced to 20 years. The couple was arrested in relation to Hill’s death in August 2004.

Williams and Cumberland have also been charged in Lafayette County with kidnapping and murdering Jennifer Hyman of Oklahoma City. Similar charges are also expected against the pair in relation to the kidnapping and death of Samantha P. Patrick, also of Oklahoma City, according to a Mississippi DPS press release.

According to The Associated Press, the pair is also being questioned in connection with a number of prostitutes’ deaths across the Midwest, including the case of Casey Joe Pipestem, a prostitute from Oklahoma City whose body was found beaten, raped and strangled in January 2004 in Grapevine, TX. Pipestem’s case received national attention after being featured on an episode of the television program “America’s Most Wanted.”

Avery Mann, spokesman for the television show, said dozens of tips have come in since the show aired on June 4. According to The AP, the Grapevine Police Department spent eight hours interviewing Williams and three hours interviewing Cumberland about the Pipestem case after a family member of Williams left a tip with the show. The family member said Williams had bragged about committing a similar-sounding crime.