Former Tampa Bay bank robber meets detective after she changed his life, 28 years later

Pinellas County

SAFETY HARBOR, Fla. (WFLA) – It must have been an unusual and awkward moment for Don Cummins. For the first time in nearly three-decades, he was face to face with the detective who caught him.

Cummins robbed several banks in Pinellas County in 1991 and was on the run for months. Pinellas Sheriff’s Office Detective Rachel Hughes was hot on his tail.

“I was like a bulldog with my teeth in it,” said Hughes. “I wasn’t going to let go.” Hughes didn’t and in December of 1991, Cummins was captured in Orange County.

She eventually brought him back to Pinellas County, where he pleaded guilty to the robbery charges and a judge sentenced him to time in Florida State Prison.

He served 15 years before his release, and then fell on hard times again. He believes his dependence on drugs led to his demise. But after a successful rehab, he has turned his life around and is now a husband, a dad and a motivational speaker.

“The biggest thing that helped me, and that I believe anyone else that is trying to turn their life around is the solid belief that they are worth it,” said Cummins. “That they deserve a good life. “

Cummins now speaks with students at Pinellas County Schools on how not to choose the road that he chose. He’s also written a book titled “The Prison Within: A Memoir of Breaking Free“.

Detective Hughes is now Pastor Hughes. She retired from the sheriff’s office in 2009. She is also retired from the military after serving several tours overseas. She says God moved her to be a pastor and believes that God also guided Don Cummins.

“It’s like, wow,” said Hughes, sitting in the front pew of her Palm Harbor church. “The almighty has… can take a mess and send a message, huh? “

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