Authorities say slayings in Tenn., Ala. linked - WKRN News 2

Authorities say slayings in Tenn., Ala. linked

Posted: Updated: July 19, 2009 09:25 AM CDT

FAYETTEVILLE, Tenn. - Six slayings in two communities about 30 miles apart in Tennessee and Alabama are linked, authorities said Saturday.

Five people, including members of the same family, were found dead in two rural homes near Fayetteville in southern Tennessee Saturday, and a sixth body was discovered at a Huntsville, Alabama business, authorities said.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Kristin Helm said in an e-mail that a suspect, 30-year-old Jacob Shaffer, of Huntsville, was in custody in Lincoln County but no charges had been filed.

She said deputies found him on the porch of one of the Fayetteville homes.

Lincoln County Sheriff Murray Blackwelder said at a news conference that his department is investigating three crime scenes, though he did not elaborate.

He did not release the victims' names and would not confirm the causes of death.

He also did not release a motive in what he called "horrendous" killings and "one of the worst crimes Lincoln County has seen."

Helm said some of the Tennessee victims were related and were killed Friday night or early Saturday.

Authorities did not release the victims' ages but Karon Weatherman, who lives about a half-mile away from the Tennessee homes, said she saw children as young as four and five running back and forth between the houses across the road from each other.

One of the Tennessee homes was once a skating rink that was converted into a duplex, said Weatherman.

She did not know the family but said they moved in earlier this year in the area of mostly rental houses.

"I wouldn't expect nothing like this to happen," she said.

All phone numbers listed in Huntsville under Jacob Shaffer's name had been disconnected.

Fayetteville is a town of 7,000 people about 90 miles south of Nashville near the Tennessee-Alabama border.

Huntsville, about 30 miles south, is the largest city in northern Alabama with more than 170,000 people.

*The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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