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Stepfather charged in cold case murder of 3 year-old Reading boy

READING, Pa. –The Berks County District Attorney charges a man with the rape and murder of a boy that died more than 12 years ago. David Charles Cummings,...

READING, Pa. –The Berks County District Attorney charges a man with the rape and murder of a boy that died more than 12 years ago. David Charles Cummings, 50, was the boy’s stepfather at the time. According to court documents, police were called to 1022 Walnut Street in Reading at 4 am on July 27, 2003, for a child that had stopping breathing. When they arrived, paramedics were trying to revive 3 year-old William Edward Spayd. The boy was pronounced dead on arrival at Saint Joseph Hospital.

At the time, Cummings told police that while his wife, Holly Cummings, was at work, he was home alone with three children on July 26th. He said after his wife left the house, around 10 pm on the 26th, his biological son threw Hoover down a flight of stairs. Cummings said he heard a scream and arrived to catch the boy as he fell down the stairs. When Holly called home around 1:30 am, Cummings told her that Hoover was fidgety and would not stay in his bed. When Holly called again, just before 4 am, he told her he heard a choking noise and went to check on the boy. He said he found Hoover lying in a puddle of vomit on his bed. He turned the boy over, yelled his name and shook him and got no response. He got off the phone with his wife to call 911.

During the autopsy, the forensic pathologist discovered rectal trauma, and completed a sexual assault evidence kit. The results of that kit came back in September, 2003. Blood was discovered in the rectum of the boy and other evidence, identified as spermatozoa, on the boy’s genitals was sent to the lab for DNA analysis. A warrant was issued and blood samples were taken from Cummings at this time.

The DNA from the sperm proved a match for Cummings. In May of 2008, Cummings set up a meeting with police to talk about the investigation. During the meeting, Cummings said that the boy’s death was Holly’s fault, but “she didn’t mean to do it.”

The final report from the forensic pathologist was issued on May 11, 2015. It concluded that William Edward Spayd, also referred to as “Hoover” in the court documents, suffered sexual assault and abusive beating by an adult, numerous bruises and abrasions on the head, face, neck, chest, back, abdomen, pelvis and lower extremities. The death was caused by a significant injury to the abdomen. And it was a homicide.

In July of this year, Cummings changed his story. He said that he was dead asleep when “Hoover” woke him up that fateful night. He said the boy kept poking him, and in response, he punched the boy in the head, knocking him into a dresser. He went back to sleep. At some point he woke up, hearing Hoover throwing up in a bathroom in the home.

When he finally woke up and checked on the boy, 90 minutes to 2 hours later, the boy’s body was cold. He was on his knees, face down in the bed. He picked him up and moved him, naked, into his bedroom. Cummings admitted he lied when his wife called him, that the boy was already dead. He said his wife had no idea what he did.

Police charged Cummings this morning with Murder of the 1st Degree, Murder of the 3rd Degree, Aggravated Assault, Rape, Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse, Endangering Welfare of a Child. He is already in prison, at SCI Graterford, on unrelated charges.

Criminal Complaint – Cummings