Not much about Cummins's early life has been disclosed, other than he was born on February 18, 1914. After being fired from many jobs due to insolence and dishonesty, he enlisted onto Britain's Royal Air Force in 1939, quickly earning himself the nickname of "The Count" because of his boastful claims to having noble heritage in his blood. A handsome, well-built man, not only did Cummins's wife find him appealing but the prostitutes of London's poor neighborhoods. He eventually began stealing belongings from prostitutes he regularly visited. During World War II, he suddenly snapped for an unknown reason and started killing; some believe he might have been suffering from a mental illness that was triggered during this time, while others thought that he developed a misogynistic personality that manifested itself into murdering women. Cummins soon took advantage of the regular nighttime blackouts caused by the German Blitz to kill his victims without being detected.
On February 9, the body of 40-year-old Evelyn Hamilton was found in an air raid shelter. The following three days were highlighted with the daily discovery of a victim, whose corpse would now be sexually mutilated. The killing spree gained him the nicknames of "The Blackout Ripper" and "The Blackout Killer", the former being because of the crimes' similarities to those of serial killer Jack the Ripper, most notably the mutilation. On February 14, Cummins attempted to kill a woman named Greta Hayward, whom he previously made sexual advances towards, but he escaped when a delivery boy witnessed the attack, leaving behind the gas mask case he brought along. After attacking and unsuccessfully attempting to murder another woman, Cummins was arrested two days later by an officer who traced the numbers on the discarded gas mask case back to him. Authorities searched his quarters and found countless evidence used to convict him of the murders. Cummins went to trial for his murder spree on April 27; during this time, he wrote a letter to his wife that seemed to imply that he might've blacked out whenever he started killing. Nevertheless, it took the jury 35 minutes to eventually find guilty of murder, and he was sentenced to death by hanging. Cummins was executed on June 25 by hanging, ironically during an air raid. After his execution, a fifth body was discovered and attributed to him. The woman, identified as one "Mrs. Church", was revealed to have been killed on October 1941.
Cummins killed his victims during regular nighttime blackouts caused by The Blitz. He would do this by strangling them, but in the case of his second victim, Evelyn Oatley, he also slashed her throat post-mortem. His last three victims were also sexually mutilated with a variety of objects, such as a can opener, a razor blade, a knife, and a candlestick. Exactly how he killed Mrs. Church remains unspecified.
- London, England, UK:
- Unspecified dates: Numerous victimless thefts
- October 1941, unspecified location: Mrs. Church (first name unrevealed; possibly a pseudonym; killed by unspecified causes)
- February 9, City of Westminster: Evelyn Hamilton, 40 (strangled)
- February 10, Soho: Evelyn Oatley, 35 (strangled and her throat slashed post-mortem; was sexually mutilated with a can opener post-mortem)
- February 11, City of Westminster: Margaret Florence Lowe, 43 (strangled with a silk stocking and sexually mutilated with a knife, a razor blade, and a candlestick post-mortem)
- February 12, Paddington: Doris Jouannet, 32 (strangled with a scarf and sexually mutilated post-mortem)
- February 14:
- City of Westminster: Greta Hayward (attempted; fled when a delivery boy witnessed the attack)
- Paddington: Cathrine Mulchany (attempted; first name unrevealed)
On Criminal Minds
- Season Five
- "The Longest Night" - While Cummins has yet to be directly mentioned or referenced on the show, he appears to have been an inspiration for Billy Flynn - Both were spree (Flynn was originally serial) killers and robbers who killed during blackouts, were given nicknames for their crimes, had some sexual element in their crimes (Flynn raped the women he targeted, while Cummins would sexually mutilate them in some way), and had children as witnesses. Flynn also appeared in Season Six.