HOUSTON—A Texas inmate faces execution on Wednesday after killing his pregnant wife, five-year-old daughter, and father-in-law more than a decade ago in what prosecutors called a brutal and senseless attack.
Authorities say John Hummel stabbed his wife, Joy Hummel, more than 30 times in December 2009. He then used a baseball bat to beat to death his daughter, Jodi Hummel, and his 57-year-old father-in-law, Clyde Bedford, who used a wheelchair. He then set their home on fire in Kennedale, a Fort Worth suburb.
Prosecutors say he killed his family because he wanted to run off with a woman he met at a convenience store. After the fire, Hummel fled to Oceanside, California, near San Diego, but was later arrested. Investigators say he confessed to the killings.
Hummel, 45, who had been working as a hospital security guard, was convicted of capital murder in the deaths of his father-in-law and his 34-year-old wife.
Michael Mowla, Hummel’s attorney, does not plan to file any last-minute appeals, saying all available legal avenues have been exhausted.
Appeals courts had rejected Mowla’s attempts to stop the execution over claims Hummel had not been properly assessed on whether he would be a future danger, which is one of the questions Texas juries must answer in death penalty cases. Mowla also unsuccessfully argued the appearance of impropriety in the case as Hummel’s trial lawyer now works for the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office, which convicted him.
Hummel had been scheduled for execution on March 18, 2020, but that was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Bedford’s sister, Cylinda Bedford, said she’s still doesn’t understand why Hummel killed his family. She described Joy Hummel, who worked as a massage therapist, as outgoing and bubbly. Jodi had been excited about starting school, and Clyde Bedford, who was better known by his nickname Eddie, “loved that grand baby,” Cylinda Bedford said.
“Come on, your own baby. You gotta be some kind of monster,” Bedford, 54, a retired body shop technician, said of Hummel. “I don’t have no closure. And him being put to death is not going to be closure either because then we’ll never know why.”
Hummel’s attorney also argued that his client suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues related to his military service that caused him to “snap” one night.
But Miles Brissette, a prosecutor at Hummel’s trial, said authorities discovered Hummel had previously tried to kill his family by putting rat poison in a spaghetti dinner.
On the night of the killings, Hummel stood in his kitchen for 30 minutes so he could “psych himself up” for what he was about to do, and after killing his wife, he caught his breath before fatally beating the others, Brissette said.
“This guy senselessly took the life of a beautiful mother, a beautiful child, and a grandfather that just did everything for them. For him to want to be single and just kill them this way is senseless,” said Brissette, who is now a defense attorney in Fort Worth.
Hummel would be the second inmate executed in Texas this year and the fifth in the United States. Last month, Texas resumed executions after nearly a year. But it didn’t go as planned: The execution was performed without media witnesses. An investigation blamed the mistake on several factors, including new personnel and procedures, along with insufficient oversight.
Cylinda Bedford said nothing will make up for the loss her family still feels at Christmas or on birthdays. And a piece of her history was lost when Hummel burned down the family home where her father was born and raised and where her parents raised their children. Her family sold the land where the home stood but nothing new has been built there.
“It’s still an empty lot,” Bedford said.
By Juan A. Lozano