FORT WORTH – A 34-year-old Kennedale man was indicted Wednesday on three counts of capital murder stemming from the December deaths of his pregnant wife, his 5-year-old daughter and his father-in-law who were found death after a fire in their Kennedale home.
A Tarrant County grand jury returned the indictments Wednesday morning alleging that John William Hummel stabbed his wife, Joy Hummel, numerous times, then fatally beat his daughter, Jodi Hummel, and his father-in-law, Clyde “Eddie” Bedford, with a baseball bat.
The grand jury alleged that the slaying of Jodi Hummel was capital murder because the victim was a child under 6.
The death of Hummel’s pregnant wife was a capital murder, the grand jury alleged, because her death and the death of her unborn child constituted a multiple murder committed in the same criminal episode.
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The death of Hummel’s father-in-law and his wife also were part of the same criminal episode so they were charged as capital murder on that ground.
“This is the first capital murder we’ve ever indicted involving the death of an unborn child,” said District Attorney Joe Shannon.
Hummel could be sentenced to death by lethal injection or life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of capital murder.
Fled to Mexico
After killing his family and setting his home on fire, Hummel fled to Mexico to buy drugs, he told investigators after his capture. He was detained by border patrol agents about two days after the murders when he crossed the border back into California.
Investigators from Kennedale and the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office who flew to California to interview Hummel said he admitted to killing his family but not why.
Hummel was returned to Fort Worth in leg irons on New Year’s Eve. He was then escorted to the 432nd District Court where he met with his court-appointed attorney, Fred Cummings, and was advised of his rights by Judge Ruben Gonzalez Jr.
In affidavits made public that day, investigators said Hummel admitted that he bought gasoline Dec. 18, killed his family, then set the family’s home at 600 Little School Road on fire and drove away.
Nine of the victims’ relatives were in court Thursday. Bedford’s sister, Cylinda Bedford, said she wanted Hummel to “have to look in my eyes.”
According to the affidavits, a Kennedale police officer kicked in the locked door after a caller reported a fire. Firefighters found the three bodies after extinguishing the blaze.
Using a trained dog, investigators from the Tarrant County fire marshal’s office and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives quickly found that an accelerant had been poured in at least two areas of the three bedrooms. Accelerants had also been poured in a central area of the 1,100-square-foot house.
After Hummel arrived at the house about five hours later, he voluntarily went to the police station, where he made a statement and gave police his clothes and footwear. Investigators saw what appeared to be dried blood on his pants and socks, police said.
Defendant admits stabbing
After Hummel left the station, authorities tried to contact him regarding a family pet recovered by animal control officers after the fire. He never returned the calls nor did he contact church friends who filed a missing-persons report that led to his arrest Dec. 20 in San Ysidro, Calif.
Hummel told investigators that he was dressed in his security guard uniform but did not go to work when he left home that night. Instead, he said, he drove around, made several stops and returned home after buying the gasoline.
He admitted stabbing his pregnant wife numerous times, said he then went to his father-in-law’s room and beat him with a baseball bat. He said he used the same bat to kill his daughter.
Hummel said he took several items from the house, loaded them into his van and set the house on fire. He told investigators that he dumped several items behind an auto parts store off Pioneer Parkway in Arlington.
Kennedale and Arlington police later found the items, including a baseball bat, in a trash bin. Those items were sent to the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office for testing.
After giving the statement to Kennedale police, Hummel said, he collected his paycheck and drove to San Diego. After checking into a hotel, he crossed into Mexico to buy drugs from a man he met in California, he said. He was trying to re-enter the country when Customs and Border Protection agents detained him Dec. 20 on the basis of the missing-person’s report and turned him over to authorities in San Diego.