Monday, March 31, 2008

The Only Woman on Florida's Death Row by Robert A. Waters



This is an unusual case because the murders took place in Georgia but the trials were in Florida courts. The reason given is that Florida tried the cases because the robbery and kidnapping of Carol and Reggie Sumner took place in that state. [Picture of Tiffany Ann Cole giving testimony.]


Women have to work particularly hard to make the cut. No, it’s not sports or the glass ceiling. It’s Florida’s execution chamber. Only two women have been put to death in Florida since 1924. Both, Judy Buenoano and Aileen Wuornos, were despicable serial killers.

Tiffany Ann Cole is the only female who currently has a date with Old Sharpie. Given the vagaries of the death penalty, whether she keeps that date is open to question. But whether she deserves it is not.

In 2005, Carol and James “Reggie” Sumner, both 61, moved from South Carolina to Florida for their health. They’d both worked hard all their lives before retiring. As a young man, James served in the Navy, then took a job with CSX Railroad. “He was just a very gentle, kind, and giving spirit,” said his step-daughter Rhonda Alford.

Carol had been shot by an abusive husband before she married Reggie. Former high school sweethearts, they were very much in love. She was employed for 25 years at The Citadel and Charleston Air Force Base before retiring.

By the time they reached their 60s, Reggie was a brittle diabetic and Carol was battling liver cancer. According to friends and family, she’d lost so much weight she’d become skeletal.

Tiffany Cole’s father was a long-time neighbor and friend of Reggie. Before the Sumners moved to Florida, they sold their Chevrolet Lumina to Tiffany, allowing her to make payments directly to them. She would sometimes drive to Florida to visit the Sumners, bringing along her friends.

Tiffany, 25 at the time of the murders, had a 24-year-old boyfriend named Michael James Jackson. Upon learning that Carol had sold a condominium for $ 90,000, Jackson and Cole began plotting to rob the couple. Drug addicts Bruce Nixon and Alan Lyndell Wade, both 19, were brought into the scheme. They were all losers of the worst kind.

On Independence Day, 2005, the quartet drove to southern Georgia, looking for a burial ground. Finding a remote site, Tiffany held a flashlight while the men dug a six-foot-deep trench.

On the evening of July 8, Nixon and Wade knocked on the door of the couple while Cole and Jackson waited outside in a rented Mazda RX-8. Nixon and Wade told Carol they needed to use her telephone and she invited them in. Immediately, they attacked her. They used a fake gun to subdue Carol and Reggie, then tied the couple with duct tape. After blindfolding them, they forced their terrified victims outside and stuffed them inside the trunk of their own Lincoln Town car.

Jackson and Cole followed the Town Car as they drove north toward the designated grave. Their job was to act as a decoy in case the police got suspicious of Nixon and Wade. (They were to speed away in the sporty Mazda so the police would pursue them.)

After arriving at the grave, Jackson and Wade dragged the Sumners out of the trunk. They walked the disabled couple a hundred feet to the pit and shoved them in. While Carol and Reggie were still alive, Jackson and Wade covered them with dirt. According to the autopsy, they died of “asphyxiation.” Dirt had been sucked into their lungs.

Using credit cards stolen from the couple, Jackson began to withdraw cash from their accounts. Jackson, Cole, and Wade stayed at hotels and partied, while Nixon went on a drug binge with the $ 250 he got for helping with the murders.

After Rhonda Alford contacted Jacksonville police about her missing mother, it didn’t take investigators long to identify the suspects. Thinking they could trick investigators, Cole called detectives and pretended to be Carol Sumner. She stated they were in Delaware. Jackson then called, impersonating Reggie. He attempted to persuade officers that their credit cards weren’t working properly.

At trial, Tiffany Cole’s attorneys alleged that she was under Jackson’s control and therefore was not responsible for the murders. The jury didn’t buy it. They convicted Cole of two counts of first degree murder and kidnapping along with lesser charges. They voted 9-3 to sentence her to death.

In sentencing her, Circuit Judge Michael Weatherby rejected the defense theory. He listed his reasons for believing that Cole was a willing participant: Cole introduced the three to the Sumners; she held a flashlight while the three men dug the grave in advance; she was present when the couple were abducted, bound and gagged, and driven to the pre-dug grave; she rented a car and used it to act as a “decoy” during the drive to Georgia; she bought the duct tape and gloves; and she pawned jewelry stolen from the couple. “She was thoroughly involved,” Weatherby stated.

Tiffany Ann Cole received two death sentences. Michael Jackson also received death sentences, as did Alan Lyndell Wade. Bruce Nixon was given 55 years with the possibility of parole after 25 years because of his cooperation and testimony against the other defendants.

NOTE: Since I first published this story, three more women have been sentenced to death in Florida. Ana Cardona of the infamous Baby Lollipops murder has been re-sentenced to death after having her first conviction overturned. Margaret Allen was convicted of torturing and murdering her housekeeper. And Emilia Carr kidnapped and killed her boyfriend's former wife.

31 comments:

J.G. said...

Florida's electric chair is called "Old Sparky" and not "Old Sharpie." My guess is the author's "Sharpie" brand marker needs replacing. Further, "Old Sparky" has been retired for some years now.

Robert A. Waters said...

"Old Sharpie" is what inmates now call the needle used for lethal injection.

Kirstein said...

Tiffany doesnt deserve another day of life in my personal opinion. She had it all planned out. So why not just carry out the death penalty. Tax Payers pay for her stay, this girl isn't worth a penny! Quit making taxpayers pay for her.

LilredWriting said...

Strangely enough the prosecution listed several reasons that Tiffany was not under the control of Michael Jackson- none of which proved a thing. She introduced them to the couple...is that a crime? She held the flashlight and was present? Well, thats because she was deathly afraid of Michael Jackson and there is proof that he has been violent with her in the past. What the hell happened to that jury?

Florida123 said...

She was the only connection the others had to the couple, and the one that knew that Carol had sold her condo. She could have kept her mouth shut. Instead, she played an integral part in methodically carrying out the murder of two innocent, kind people. There is no excuse. To even suggest she had no control over the situation, even if her boyfriend was abusive, is ludicrous.

cathie said...

LilredWriting is delusional. I have worked with a plethora of Domestic Violence victims, and even within the cycle of violence, victims KNOW right from wrong.

Tanstaafl2010 said...

Is this the gal that Geraldo of Fox News is saying she doesn't deserve the death penalty? He's gotta be nuts to say that.

DC GIRL said...

I interviewed Tiffany in the Charleston jail while she was awaiting extradition. Some of your facts are not correct. She is far worse, more malicious, cold and calculating than you portray. She told me step by step how the did this brutal act, how they planned it out and how they partied and stayed in the couples house afterward even using their cars. She just needs to rot! She is an animal and should never even be allowed contact with the guards!

PluffMuddMom said...

I was neighbors with Carol in SC. I do not believe that they was a finer human being on the planet. I remember the night she talked to Reggie on the phone for the first time in ages. She was like a teenager. They were so inlove. He was wonderful as well but I didn't know him as long as I knew her. For these people to do what they did to her and Reggie, they deserve the same treatment. Forgiveness is given but payment is required by our laws.

Unknown said...

yes sir ree bob! i'm in heaven reading that this cunt is going to die.thankfully this judge and jury gave this perverted pig exactly what she deserves...the only drawback is that they can't kill her twice. i'd give my eyetooth to watch her die. i also LOVE the fact that 3 other women are on death row in florida now. this restores my faith in our so called "justice system" which usually is so ignorant, inept, wimpy, sexist, hypocritical, and severely lacking in common sense that it literally lets women get away with murder. maybe the system is FINALLY gathering some iq points...

Thirel said...

LilredWriting: You're a fucking idiot. Her crime, even if she was innocent of everything else, was NOT stopping the crime or reporting it. She deserves death, and if I had it my way, she'd be buried alive.

Thirel said...

LilredWriting: You're a fucking idiot. Even if she was innocent of everything else, she's guilty of not stopping the crime, or not reporting it. She deserves death, and if I had it my way, she'd be buried alive.

Loonyluna Markland said...

I watched a program its called couples who kill. What they all did was diabolical , I am also disabled and can't think of any reason why they are still Alive , execution is the law of the land they deserve it for what they've done. It doesn't matter what happens to you in life it is no excuse. 4 in 10 adults are abused as children, they don't go around torturing and murdering vulnerable people. At times I wish they brought back the death penalty to England.

Loonyluna said...

I watched a program its called couples who kill. What they all did was diabolical , I am also disabled and can't think of any reason why they are still Alive , execution is the law of the land they deserve it for what they've done. It doesn't matter what happens to you in life it is no excuse. 4 in 10 adults are abused as children, they don't go around torturing and murdering vulnerable people. At times I wish they brought back the death penalty to England.

Roberta13 said...

I was Reggie's friend for years there was not a more loving, caring wonderful man. These people are animals and all deserved the death penalty

Roberta13 said...

Reggie was a dear friend for years he was the most loving, giving person I have ever known, these people all deserved the death penalty

kristy Roque said...

Tiffany always have the choice to tell the authorities after what her "abusive" boyfriend (as some assumed that she is under the control of Mr. Jackson) have done to those nice couple, but she don't, she and her murderer boyfriend even called the police to pretend that they are the Saunders and that they're doing fine --- with intentions to deceive the police and to re-activate the credit card. What do you call that --- control from a boyfriend? No, she herself is an evil woman...she deserved to die --- in a most painful way, America is much forgiving for giving her the lethal injection, it's like putting the dog to sleep. I hope she rot in hell!

kristy Roque said...

Tiffany always have the choice to tell the authorities after what her "abusive" boyfriend (as some assumed that she is under the control of Mr. Jackson) have done to those nice couple, but she don't, she and her murderer boyfriend even called the police to pretend that they are the Saunders and that they're doing fine --- with intentions to deceive the police and to re-activate the credit card. What do you call that --- control from a boyfriend? No, she herself is an evil woman...she deserved to die --- in a most painful way, America is much forgiving for giving her the lethal injection, it's like putting the dog to sleep. I hope she rot in hell!

JettStreams said...

It is odd to me the people make a big deal of a woman on death row just because she is a woman....Equal rights for all is equal rights for all. It also boggles my mind that even her family would have sympathy for her. Everything about this woman is ugly to the core. Everyday she lives is a waste of taxpayer's money.

karaokegirl said...

Yes, she needs to pay for her crime. But death penalty would be an easy way out for her. Why not life in prison, with no parole.


jaxstyle said...

I honestly am so confused by all this bc i know her...i was in jail in duval county and she was my cell mate for the last 6 mos or so until she was sentenced....she was a totally different peraon while i "knew" her....she got the guards to move me in her cell bc when u r in for a while u dont like get new ppl in and out all the time so i moved in with her and another girl...i didnt know her story b4 i was arrested and of course didnt know the truth while inside...only her side...but after i got out i researched and read all i could and omg...i can not believe i slept ate and just lived with such evilness...i know ppl can change but u have to pay for what u did...all the articles make me aick to my stomach...the fact that she would constantly say oh i had no clue what them boys were planning to my face then to hear her voice saying it was all their idea...disgusting...she deserves whatever the good lord sees fit

Ryan Lewis said...

Yes she does deserve the death penalty.... If anybody can take the life of a vulnerable person or children or any human being they should have the same done to them and it should happen quick so that the tax payer does not have to pay to keep them alive because she did not have any feelings for her victims when she left to die so why should we keep her alive...... I would love to watch her die painfully and would not even shread a tear.... The only people I feel for are the victims family's not hers or her accomplishes hope they rot in hell!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ryan Lewis said...

Yes she should be executed if she or anybody takes the life of a vulnerable person or children or in fact any human being then they deserve to executed... And for the fact of saying she had to part of the dreadful crime apart from holding the flashlight then that's bull.... I would love to watch her die and would not shread a tear and this needs to happen quick like she killed her victims and not let the tax payer pay to keep her alive.. Hope she rots in hell and dies quick!!!!!!!!!

billie f said...

So sorry for your loss

billie f said...

This is so horrible to hear that these people had to die in such a horrific way. I cannot comprehend how someone could be so cold. They all deserve what they have coming to them

Janis Quinn said...

These are not human beings. They are scum. Get it over with, and carry out the punishment. They deserve it....

Roberta13 said...

i worked for years with reggie he was one of my best friends....she needs to be put to death

Geison Garcia said...

They all need to be burried alive as well so they can really understand what they put those poor people through. And I think death penalty should be exactly how the murder was commited... Maybe then people would consider a bit more about doing so much harm to another innocent human been...

mic said...

Wow I really hope Tiffany gets what is coming to her, the level of betrayal is very deserving to get the death penalty, you have to be a stupid wack job to murder in the state of FL and then bury them alive. They were not their lives to take. I hope Michael has to grab his ankles every single day. Rip to wonderful trusting people.

Ronald Palma said...

This is horrible... All of them were guilty but Tiffany is the worst of them... She knew this kind and veru much in love couple, however I think she does not deserve death penalty but life imprisionment.

Jean Bogart said...

This Woman needs to be put down like a rabid dog. What is Florida waiting for? Also, if there is a God bring back old sparky JUST for this execution. If it was not for this miserable Tiffany person that poor couple might still be enjoying their retirement. I saw this case on TV. How much more horrifying could it get!!?