By Dave Rogers
---- — SALISBURY — The Liberty Street beach house searched by police last Friday in connection with the gruesome discovery of charred body parts in Bridgewater and Hyde Park was rented by Newburyport High School graduate Reginald Cummings, an aspiring rapper with a lengthy criminal record.
No one has been charged in the case, however a police source told The Daily News that Cummings is being sought by police as a “person of interest.” A landlord of the Liberty Street apartment confirmed to The Daily News that Cummings had rented the apartment in September.
While authorities would not confirm the name of the man whose body parts was found last week, family and friends believe it is the remains of 24-year-old Dennis Ray Jackson of Boston. Jackson, who also goes by the name Nikko, has also had addresses in Amesbury, Salisbury, and Hampton, N.H., within the past few years, according to police arrest logs.
The body parts were found inside a barrel located on property owned by Bridgewater State Prison last Wednesday night. The following morning, more burnt body parts were found outside a Hyde Park building. On Friday, a large number of police converged on Cummings’ apartment, which they searched for hours. Police sources have told The Daily News that Jackson may have been killed in the Salisbury apartment.
Police and prosecutors have released virtually no information on the crime, and an extensive investigation continues. However, information from friends and family members, court and police records have begun to paint a picture of the relationship between Jackson and Cummings, as well as some of their associations with well-known criminal gangmembers who have operated for years in the Salisbury/Newburyport/Amesbury area.
A fundraising web site created by Jackson’s sister, Denise Jackson, described Dennis Jackson as 24 years old and the father of three children, among them a three-month-old infant. Before it was edited yesterday the site described how Jackson’s body was found in multiple locations. Several of Jackson’s friend posted photos of him on their Facebook pages and included the link to the online fundraiser.
Cummings, who went by the stage name Re 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 is known to area police as a drug dealer, according to court records.
Cummings was last arrested in April 2012 by Haverhill police and charged with distributing a class B substance (cocaine) and conspiring to violate drug laws. Two years earlier, he and another man, Paris Cormier, a Salisbury native, were arrested by Amesbury police after a stabbing in Haverhill. The two were charged with assault with intent to murder and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon after allegedly cheering on a mutual friend as he stabbed another man. In 2008, Cummings was arrested by Salisbury police on a charge of receiving stolen property after accepting a stolen laptop computer in lieu of payment for drugs, according to court documents.
It is believed that Cummings and Dennis Jackson were acquaintances through mutual friends. At one point Jackson may have visited the Liberty Street beach house, according to another media outlet.
Nancy Herbrand, who is friendly with Jackson’s family and met him on more than one occasion, said she was recently told of his death by a Seabrook woman who is the mother of his infant child.
“So I was really concerned with his kids,” the Haverhill resident said. “He seemed like a really nice guy. I hope they catch the guy who did it. I hope they burn him too,” Herbrand added.
Three law enforcement sources told The Daily News that police are looking into the possibility that the victim was killed at the Liberty Street house, dismembered and then brought to the Hyde Park and Bridgewater locations. Such extensive mutilation of a body is a highly unusual crime in this region, however it is a common technique employed by Mexican and Caribbean drug cartels. Police have not said whether the murder is drug related, nor have they made public any information on what the motive may be.
A network of trouble
A search of court documents and police logs over last few years show Cummings was part of a network of men and women across Greater Newburyport who have been in and out of jail cells, courtrooms and prisons for drug-related or gang-related incidents.
Cormier, who Cummings has known for years, was arrested in January 2011 by Amesbury police and charged with converting a vacant Main Street apartment into a drug dealing center with the help of four other people. At one point, Cormier called himself the ring leader of a Salisbury-based group of youths known as Crimesquad 4 Life 3:19.
In May 2011, tensions between Crimesquad 4 Life 3:19 and MFA, a rival wanna-be gang, boiled over in downtown Newburyport when Damien Dobson, an alleged MFA member, was stabbed on Prince Place, just yards away from the Newburyport Public Library. His attacker, Joseph Poaletta, pleaded guilty in November and was sentenced to six years in jail.
Another alleged member of the MFA, Cameron Burke, was one of three arrested by Newburyport police last month for allegedly shooting heroin along the city’s rail trail behind Graf Rink. The 20-year-old Burke was part of a months-long heroin investigation that recently resulted in the arrests of two Merrimac residents who police allege ran a heroin distribution ring.
The MFA has had a lengthy adversarial relationship with Crimesquad for Life 3:19. While gang activity appears to have quieted down since the 2011 stabbing, both groups had been known to frequent the pedestrian mall on Inn Street in downtown Newburyport for years.
On his Facebook page on Oct. 30, Cummings discussed his attempt to obtain a “visa,” possibly for a trip to Europe, and problems he was having obtaining it due to his criminal record. In the same string, Jackson, using the name Neek Milli, left a comment alluding to possibly joining him.
Other recent Facebook posts show Cummings, his daughter and Cormier enjoying trips to the New England Aquarium and the Museum of Science. Cormier’s page shows a photo of himself and Jackson along with a few sentences from other friends lamenting his loss.
It’s unknown how long Jackson has lived in the local area. His name first appears in local records in 2008, when Amesbury police charged him with assault and battery on a police officer, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. He spent a little over a month in jail. Since then, he has been arrested on several other minor charges, mostly generated out of Amesbury. Court records show he moved frequently, having lived in at least three Amesbury addresses, as well as Salisbury and Hampton Beach.
A list of Cummings’ Facebook friends contains associates, including Burke, Cormier and others who have been arrested by area police on drug-related charges over the last few years. Among the most notable names is Dana Abrahams Jr. who is considered by law enforcement to be a major supplier of heroin to the region. Abrahams was arrested in January after local police and a regional Swat team raided his Amesbury apartment. He was charged with four counts of receiving stolen property and possession with intent to distribute heroin, being present where heroin is kept, two counts of possession of class B, conspiracy to violate drug laws and unlawful possession of fireworks.
Pages found on Cummings’ Facebook page 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. Many of the men and women also openly talk about getting high or their experiences behind bars.