A Jefferson County man was killed Saturday evening, and police arrested a second early Sunday morning after a reported altercation in the 9900 block of U.S. 270 near White Hall.
Jefferson County Coroner Chad Kelley identified the victim as Tommy Darren Tumlin, 47, who was pronounced dead by Deputy Coroner Eric Belcher at 11:48 p.m. Saturday night. The cause of death was listed as multiple stab wounds, and Kelley said the body was sent to the State Medical Examiner’s Office Monday for an autopsy.
Authorities initially announced that the murder happened in the early morning hours on Sunday.
Vincent Lee Hooper, 47, was taken into custody at the scene, and when he was questioned, told sheriff’s Investigator Terry Wingard he “could not remember why they were arguing or what happened during the argument.”
Jefferson County District Judge Kim Bridgforth set a $500,000 bond for Hooper Monday after ruling prosecutors have probable cause to charge him with first-degree murder. The Public Defender’s Office was appointed to represent him.
According to a probable cause affidavit from Wingard that was presented in Jefferson County District Court Monday, Deputy Glenn Barnes was sent to the house in response to a report that a man was unresponsive. When Barnes arrived, Hooper said he had been in a physical altercation with Tumlin, his friend.
“Tommy was lying down on the floor and he was not breathing,” Barnes quoted Hooper in his report.
“Vincent stated that he did not try to hurt Tommy,” Barnes said.
When Wingard arrived, he reportedly spoke to Michelle Hooper, who told him that she and her daughter were at home in the swimming pool when Hooper and Tumlin arrived from a fishing trip. She said she and her daughter got out of the pool and went inside to change clothes. Shortly after, Vincent became angry with her and allegedly started toward her in an aggressive manner.
Wingard reported that Michelle Hooper told him Tumlin stood up and told Vincent “he was not going to do that” while he (Tumlin) was there, then stood between Michelle and Vincent. Michelle told her daughter to go get in the vehicle so they could leave, and she said when she started to exit the area, she looked back into the residence and “saw Vincent approach Tommy in an aggressive manner.”
A short time later, Michelle Hooper told Wingard that she received a call from her husband asking her to come home. When she arrived, she saw her husband was covered in blood and asking her to “help him.” She said she then saw Tumlin on the kitchen floor “covered in blood and appearing lifeless” and ran out of the house to call 911.
Wingard reported that as he approached the house, he saw a knife with an approximate seven-inch blade lying adjacent to the front steps. He also reported that the knife had a reddish brown stain that appeared to be blood on it. He also reported that Tumlin had what appeared to be a laceration under his left arm pit, along with multiple lacerations on his back.
Wingard also reported finding a pair of blue jean pants and swim trunks in a bedroom. Both appeared to have blood on them, as did a pair of steel-toed work boots in the living room. Wingard also found a black knife sheath under the coffee table in the living room.
Hooper was interviewed by Wingard and Sgt. John Bean Sunday afternoon, and after waiving his rights and signing the rights form, said he remembered his wife leaving the house. He said that he and Tumlin were alone, adding that he remembered seeing Tumlin lying on the floor of the kitchen covered in blood. He said he panicked because Tumlin was not breathing. Hooper said he started to leave the residence in Tumlin’s car because “he was afraid of losing his family and going back to prison.”
Hooper said he drove the car in a circle around the driveway, then went back to the house, where he called his wife.
Questioned about what he was wearing, Hooper said he had on a pair of blue jean pants with swim trunks underneath, a large knife sheath on his belt, and tan steel-toed boots. He said he did not remember when, but at some point he changed his clothes and left the pants and swim trunks in the bedroom and believed he had left the boots in the living room.
Wingard showed Hooper the knife with what appeared to be blood on it, and Hooper identified it as belonging to him.
“During the interview, Vincent became emotional, stared crying and stated he was sorry,” Wingard said in the affidavit.
A press release from the sheriff’s office Sunday said this was the first murder that deputies have investigated since May 2016. So far this year, there have been 10 murders in Jefferson County including eight in Pine Bluff and one in White Hall.