Missing Couple Murder Suspects To Be Tried In Florida

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The four suspects accused of burying a disabled couple alive will be prosecuted in Duval County, Fla., even though the couple was asphyxiated in Charlton County, Ga. Bruce Nixon, Alan Wade, Tiffany Cole and Michael James Jackson will be tried for the robbery, kidnapping and murder of Reggie and Carol Sumner, a 61-year-old couple who had been missing since July 8.

On July 16, police were led to the bodies of a man and woman believed to be that of the missing couple after interrogating Nixon. Four days later, the Georgia medical examiner's office confirmed that the bodies belonged to the Sumners and determined that they died of "mechanical asphyxiation."

State attorney Harry Shorstein decided that the case would be prosecuted in Duval County because that is where the robbery and kidnapping occurred.

An off-duty officer found the couple's 1993 Lincoln Town Car July 12 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 on July 10 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.

Nixon is in custody at the Duval County jail. Wade, Cole and Jackson were previously being held in a Charleston, S.C., jail for credit card fraud. South Carolina authorities have waived extradition, but there's no word yet on when the three will be brought to Jacksonville.

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