By Dave Rogers
---- — SALISBURY — Reginald Cummings, the aspiring local rapper wanted in connection with last week’s slaying of 24-year-old Dennis Ray Jackson, was arrested by San Diego police early yesterday morning as he walked along the Mexico/California border, according to the San Diego Sheriff’s Department.
Jackson’s burned remains were found last week scattered in two locations — Wednesday night inside a barrel located on property owned by Bridgewater State Prison and Thursday morning behind a Hyde Park building. A day later, more than a dozen state, local and Boston law enforcement officials searched the Liberty Street apartment Cummings had rented in September and that Jackson had visited on many occasions. Police sources have told The Daily News that Jackson may have been killed and dismembered in the Salisbury apartment.
Police have released few details about Jackson’s death. Salisbury police Chief Thomas Fowler said that local detectives and state police detectives assigned to the Essex County District Attorney’s office are heading to San Diego to interview Cummings sometime today.
Cummings, who goes by the stage name R.E. Clipz, has performed on many stages across the area, including the Honey Pot Lounge in Seabrook, and founded Proficient Records based in Haverhill. He has been in trouble with the law before and after graduating Newburyport High School in 2005, and he is known to area police as a drug dealer, according to court records.
According to the San Diego Sheriff’s Department website, Cummings was booked at 2:41 a.m. Pacific time, and is being held inside the San Diego Central Jail without bail.
His booking information has the 26-year-old Cummings listed as 5 feet 9 inches tall and 230 pounds.
San Diego police Lt. Michael Hastings said Cummings was seen by the California Border Patrol walking on Dairy Mart Road which abuts the United States-Mexico border around 10 p.m. Pacific time. He was in need of medical attention. As border patrol agents attended to Cummings’s non-life-threatening wounds, they ran a National Crime Information Center computer background check and determined he had a warrant out of Massachusetts for a minor crime. Included in the report was a note to call the Massachusetts State Police as he was wanted as a “person of interest” in the Salisbury murder.
From there the San Diego police homicide unit began working with Massachusetts State Police. Hastings said Cummings told border patrol agents he had crossed from Mexico into the United States sometime that evening but added that he didn’t know how Cummings slipped into the country.
In a second major development in the case, yesterday the Plymouth County District Attorney’s office confirmed that charred remains found on grounds owned by Bridgewater State Prison belonged to Jackson, the father of three whose last address had been in Haverhill.
A Plymouth County District Attorney spokeswoman said limbs found Wednesday, Nov. 13, burning inside a barrel on prison property proved to be Jackson’s after investigators were able to lift fingerprints from the remains and match them to Jackson. The spokeswoman said burnt torso remains found the next morning behind a Hyde Park building are being tested by a Boston medical examiner to determine whether they, too, belong to Jackson.
As Cummings sits in a San Diego jail waiting for Massachusetts detectives, the relationship between him and Jackson, who shared the same circle of friends and at one point lived together in the Salisbury Beach house, is becoming clearer. Both have lengthy criminal records, and both have been known to sell drugs to clients across the region. A search of court documents and police logs over last few years show Cummings and Jackson were part of a network of men and women in Greater Newburyport who have been in and out of jail cells, courtrooms and prisons for drug-related or gang-related incidents.
Pages found on their Facebook accounts highlight and celebrate a widespread hip-hop culture with carefully choreographed photos showing alleged gang members donning flashy jewelry, sporting colorful tattoos, wearing baseball caps and striking intimidating poses.
Laura Fennelly, who called herself a close friend of Jackson’s, said he and Cummings had been known to frequent the same parties and were close enough that Cummings invited Jackson, who at one point had been homeless, according to court records, to stay with him at the beach house.
But while Jackson was described by Fennelly as easygoing, she said Cummings could be very aggressive and demanded respect from his peers due to his status as a popular rapper. Because of his belligerent nature, Fennelly said she could see how a small fight could lead to a larger altercation.
When word began spreading that Jackson may have been the victim of a brutal murder, Fennelly said many people in their circle of friends immediately thought Cummings might have been capable.
“Everyone instantly thought it was Reggie,” Fennelly said.