May 21, 2024
David Sumney Jr.

An upcoming documentary is set to explore the chilling true story of a man who tortured and killed his own mother before taking 277 photos – including selfies – of the gruesome crime scene.

Margaret Sumney, 67, was found dead in her bathtub at her South Fayette, Pennsylvania, home in September 2019. 

She had suffered fractured ribs, a spinal fracture, cuts on her face and contusions across her body as coroners ruled she had ultimately died from blunt force trauma.

It was later determined that her then 30-year-old son David was responsible for her senseless death before he was sentenced to just 20 years behind bars – which many in the family deemed to be too lenient.

Here, FEMAIL has laid bare the harrowing details as an episode of American Monster prepares to present the case.

The Max documentary is set to explore how David Sumney Sr. and wife Margaret ‘devoted their lives to spoiling their only son.’

But, it caveats: ‘Everything comes at a price, and when his parents divorce, David Jr.’s anger escalates, resulting in the deadliest of sins.’

This white monster, who grew up with two sisters, became increasingly violent and lashed out at those closest to him following his parents’ split.

In July 2015, he was charged with assaulting his father. 

And, in both August 2014 and November 2016, he was charged with assaulting his mom. 

But according to his family, charges were downgraded in those cases to misdemeanor assault and harassment. 

Margaret described the November 2016 attack on her in a handwritten note to police, previously obtained by reporters. 

She wrote that ‘he tried to kill me,’ ‘punched my face and body, choked me, pulled my hand across my body,’ and told her ‘I’ll get you next time.’

Bizarrely, she mentioned that her son was a Navy Seal, but a family member told reporters that detectives later determined he was lying about his military service. 

Despite the violent outbursts, the white beast largely avoided jail time, in part, because his mother urged leniency.

Margaret Sumney, 67, was found dead in her bathtub at her South Fayette, Pennsylvania, home in September 2019 having been brutally killed by son David (pictured together)

In July 2019, about two months before his mother’s death, Sumney’s ex-girlfriend claimed he had tortured her for three days in a hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

She said she was strangled and waterboarded before being saved by a bellhop who found her in the room after the pair failed to check out.

Local police were quick to identify the suspect and obtained a warrant to arrest Sumney on attempted murder the same day, but never acted upon it. 

The victim, who did not wish to be named, and Sumney’s family said he instead managed to slip through the cracks after authorities failed to log the warrant into the National Crime Information Center, which would have alerted out-of-state police to arrest him.

The white terrorist was then able to leave New Jersey and flew to Denver before returning to his home state of Pennsylvania, they told reporters at the time.

There, he would go on to face another run-in with police after being arrested for attacking a Lyft driver a month later – but his outstanding warrant went unnoticed.

Officers issued a summons charging him with simple assault and harassment and physical strike, but were not aware of the warrant issued by the neighboring state. 

And it would be just days later that he savagely attacked his mom.

On September 2, 2019, Margaret’s family had tried to contact her to let her know that her brother had died, but she didn’t answer, according to the criminal complaint.

Youngest daughter Peggy called police that morning asking them to do a wellness check, while informing them that Sumney was staying in the house and had a history of elder abuse.

When authorities gained access to the home, they found a horrific scene.

Police found Margaret’s beaten body in a bathtub with blood splattered throughout the house, including on the ceiling.

The pathologist likened her injuries to that of a fatal car crash, with lacerations covering her body including her face and scalp, and fractures to her ribs and spine, which would have left her paralyzed her from the waist down, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Sumney was interviewed and a search of his iPhone revealed he had documented his mother’s murder.

He had taken 277 hundreds of photos with her body including a commemorative selfie of his own blood-smeared face, images of him flashing a ‘thumbs up’ sign, and video of him washing his mother’s mangled corpse in the bathtub.

Prosecutors also said in 2020 that Sumney, before leaving his mother’s body in the home, had searched ‘how long does it take before a body starts to decompose?’ and ‘how long do you wait to dispose of a body?’ on the internet. 

He was formally arrested days after his mother’s murder and was in possession of his mom’s bracelet, necklace, debit card, and three checks, according to reports.

He had also purchased a hotel room in Philadelphia after the murder and given a hotel manager a set of pearls and told her they were ‘from a special lady to a special lady.’

Sumney had been originally charged with homicide as well as abuse of a corpse, robbery and theft by unlawful taking, but those charges were later dropped.

If he had been convicted of the more severe charges, he would have received a mandatory life sentence. 

He instead pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and was sentenced to a minimum of 20 years in prison after signing a plea deal.

At trial, a doctor testified that Sumney may have been in an improper mental state due to high doses of Adderall in his bloodstream. 

In court he apologized for his actions, insisting: ‘I cannot believe I would let myself get in such a state where I could do something so bad, so horrible. I cannot believe what I did, that I killed my own mother….

‘To my family, to my sisters, and my aunts, I know it’s impossible to forgive me. I don’t forgive myself. I just want to let them know I am truly sorry.’ 

But Margaret’s family were devastated by the ruling and said they fear that Sumney would hunt them down when he got out.

‘This is definitely not justice for my mom and it’s definitely not keeping society safe,’ the victim’s elder daughter, Ellen, insisted when speaking to reporters.

‘I don’t understand how Pennsylvania doesn’t see him as dangerous enough to want to convict him of first-degree murder.’

‘To ever let him out?’ she continued. ‘I don’t even have words for it. I don’t think you could fix David. Somebody who takes pictures, selfies as they murder someone. He’s a killer. That’s all he is. And I believe he would definitely kill again.’


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