BELFAST, Maine – James G. Cummings II was known as “kind of a violent dude” back home in Fort Bragg, Calif., according to Lt. Rusty Noe of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.
“He was involved in several assault cases,” Noe said in a telephone interview Wednesday evening. “He was a victim in some, a suspect in others, most of them involving family.”
But despite the 16 contacts the sheriff’s office had with him in the late 1990s, Noe sounded surprised to learn of recent allegations that Cummings was a white supremacist with a cache of radioactive materials and directions for building a dirty bomb in his Belfast home.
“The guys say they never knew him to be a Neo-Nazi type,” Noe said. “He seemed like he was a kind of angry dude that argued with the family.”
Police say that Cummings was shot to death by his wife, Amber B. Cummings, two months ago, in what they have described as a domestic violence homicide. He had no criminal history in Maine.
There was even less information readily available about Amber Cummings, whose maiden name may have been Brown. Cummings didn’t answer the phone at her Belfast home Wednesday afternoon.
It wasn’t clear Wednesday why the Cummingses moved to their home at 346 High Street in Belfast.
There are three vehicles registered to the couple with the office of the Maine Secretary of State: a 2000 Jeep Wrangler, a 1999 Dodge Durango and a 1998 motor home.
All in all, a modest lifestyle for a man who came from a California family as wealthy as it was troubled. His father, James G. Cummings Sr., made a fortune in real estate and was a well-known local philanthropist before being shot to death at his home in 1997, according to newspaper accounts.
Just months before his father’s death, when James G. Cummings II was 17, he made the national news – including Oprah – when he and his father allegedly conspired to secretly videotape his mother in the act of using hard drugs, according to the archives of the Anderson Valley Advertiser.
“The national media swooped down on Fort Bragg, and there was a 24-hour cacophony about kids spying on parents,” wrote Bruce Anderson in a 2002 story. “[They] were long gone by the time it was found that Mom had been brewing up popcorn balls for the kids, not black tar heroin.”
Mark Scaramella, the managing editor of the paper, said Wednesday that Cummings and his sister, Kathryn, sued to get more of their father’s estate in the early 2000s.
It isn’t clear how much they inherited, but the father’s trust fund reportedly earns an estimated annual income of $10 million.
When asked about a neo-Nazi presence in Fort Bragg, Scaramella chuckled.
“There are some red-necky sorts of skinheady people,” he said. “I don’t think they read enough to be neo-Nazis.”