Mother, Son Charged in Death of Mentally Disabled Daughter

A mother and her son were charged Friday in the death of the woman's 23-year-old mentally disabled daughter who investigators said was repeatedly raped, beaten and scalded and had her face pushed into feces.

An Erie County grand jury returned a multi-count indictment against 51-year-old Eva Cummings and her 31-year-old son, Luke Wright, both of North Collins outside Buffalo, in a case that was described by Sheriff's Capt. Ronald Kenyon as "horrendous" and "beyond description."

Cummings was charged with second-degree murder for allegedly suffocating Laura Cummings in their home Jan. 21 following years of abuse. Both mother and son face additional charges including predatory sexual assault, unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime and endangering a disabled person's welfare.

Both have been held without bail since their arrests Jan. 30. Arraignment in Erie County Court was scheduled for Monday.

Laura Cummings was repeatedly tied to a chair, all night at times, for the last two years and often with a hood over her head, according to the indictment. She was sodomized with a broomstick, forced to put her face in her own feces, repeatedly beaten and was scalded with water at least twice before she died, the investigation found.

Wright also is charged with several sex offenses, including raping his half-sister, District Attorney Frank Sedita's office said.

Following their arrests, Kenyon said investigators had found evidence of physical and mental abuse going back to 1995 and that the abuse had escalated in the months before her death. The victim's 22-year-old brother told reporters he had been concerned about his sister's treatment and had called county social services agencies from his Air Force base in North Carolina in an unsuccessful attempt to get her removed from the home.

County officials have said confidentiality rules prevent them from discussing individual cases.

"This is a horrifically sad case from many aspects," said Wright's attorney, John Nuchereno, who said Wright himself was "a victim of lifelong abuse."

"There was abuse in that household that had been known for years and years by many, many people and Luke was an unfortunate victim, as was his sister," the attorney said. He described Wright as marginally functional, though more advanced than Laura Cummings, who has been described as having the mental capacity of a preteen. Wright had held jobs mucking stalls or helping plow, Nuchereno said.

Cummings' attorney, Joseph Terranova, declined Friday to comment on the indictment because he had not yet seen it.

If convicted, Cummings faces a sentence of 83 years to life in prison. Her son faces a sentence of 133 years to life.