A West Side grandfather was fatally slashed and partially mutilated by his younger brother last September after he sought to spend time with the younger man who may have suffered from mental illness, Cook County prosecutors said in court Saturday.

Judge Donald Panarese Jr. ordered the defendant, Robert Cummings, 47, held on $1 million bail for the Sept. 8 death of his brother, Jerry, at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.

Robert Cummings, of the 7600 block of South Marquette Avenue, was charged with first-degree murder and is expected to return to court next week. His public defender told the court that he suffered from schizophrenia, while a police report of the incident indicated that he was prescribed medication for mental illness.

Standing before the judge, Cummings, a short, stocky man with salt-and-pepper hair, didn’t react as details of the bloody attack were read aloud in court and afterward slowly left the courtroom with the aid of a cane.

His brother Jerry Cummings was discovered unresponsive in the driver’s seat of his car near his home in the 200 block of North Lockwood about 1 p.m. that day. He had severe trauma to his neck, including a broken hyoid bone, which acts as an anchoring structure for the tongue. After noticing that the victim was partially clothed, authorities later found that he suffered trauma to his genitals, authorities said.

An autopsy determined Cummings died of multiple injuries from an assault and his death was ruled a homicide, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Robert Cummings had previously stayed at his brother’s home in late August, but left after he began acting erratically and police were called to the home on Aug. 31, Assistant State’s Attorney Owens Shelby told the court. But when Cummings returned to his brother’s doorstep a week later, Jerry Cummings told his live-in girlfriend he wanted to “spend some time” with his brother and would let him stay in his car outside for the night, Shelby said.

Nearby surveillance cameras captured Jerry Cummings getting into the car with his brother in the early morning hours of Sept. 8 and never getting back out. Between 4 a.m. and 8:45 a.m., video captured Robert Cummings getting in and out of the car multiple times before completely leaving the car that morning, Shelby said.

About a half-hour after Jerry Cummings was discovered, Robert Cummings walked into Loretto Hospital and spoke with staff there. When police encountered him hours later, they noticed his clothing was covered in blood. He later made “incriminating statements” about harming his brother, prosecutors said.

Cummings was released while authorities awaited results of forensic tests performed on the clothing at the Illinois State Police crime lab. The tests later found the clothing had a DNA profile that matched Jerry Cummings, Shelby said.

Members of Jerry Cummings’ family were stunned by the news of Robert Cummings’ arrest.

“Just shock," said Jerry Cummings’ ex-wife Jackie Vassar, who said she and her daughter, Jashawna, were unaware of the criminal charges. “It was devastating because it happened with Jerry, but we just couldn’t figure out who could possibly want to do this to him.”

Vassar, who remained close to her ex-husband said it didn’t surprise her that Cummings died trying to help his brother.

“He was a real good guy. He would give you the shirt off his back to help you,” she said. “If you called him, he was coming.”


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