PONTIAC, Mich. (March 24, 2004) — Prosecutors in Oakland County have charged a 31-year-old man with a double homicide at a tire shop in Pontiac following an investigation that spanned more than a year and took police from Michigan to Mississippi.
Bobby Smith, 31, was arrested in late February or early March on unrelated drug charges in Mississippi, where he had been living since about last summer, said Ken Frazee, assistant prosecuting attorney with the Oakland County prosecutor's office. Mr. Smith had lived in Michigan during the murders in January 2003, Mr. Frazee said.
Last year, Richard Cummings, 57, and Steven Putman, 33, were found shot to death in the back of City Tire Co. the morning of Jan. 7. Mr. Cummings owned the Uniroyal tire shop, and Mr. Putman was an employee. According to Mr. Cummings' obituary at the time, he had worked at City Tire for 40 years, including the previous 12 as owner.
Mr. Smith is currently in jail on two charges of felony murder, two counts of armed robbery and using a firearm during the commission of a felony, Mr. Frazee said. He could not give more details of the robbery.
Mr. Smith is scheduled to be in court March 30 for a preliminary hearing on the charges. Prosecutors said they are hoping for an eventual sentence of life without parole.
Mr. Frazee would not comment on whether authorities are seeking any other individuals in connection with the crime.
“We are supremely confident he's the right guy,” Mr. Frazee told Tire Business, adding authorities believe Mr. Smith pulled the trigger for both victims.
For a year after the slayings, the investigation was “intensive” yet hadn't led to a definite suspect. “It's tough when someone isn't caught right at the scene,” Mr. Frazee said. “It can be a long process.”
But the Oakland County Sheriff's Department and Pontiac Police got a needed break after the one-year anniversary, when they received a host of fresh tips following several news stories about the crimes' impact on the families, especially Mr. Cummings' widow, Cindy Cummings.
“That triggered some people coming forward offering information about Mr. Smith,” Mr. Frazee said.
Local media reported that one of the tipsters was Mr. Smith's own wife after she heard about the families' pain. Mr. Frazee said she was involved, but he could not comment further pending the progression of the case.