Medical examiner: 5 Tenn. victims stabbed to death - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Medical examiner: 5 Tenn. victims stabbed to death

Posted: Updated:
Jacob Shaffer's first court appearance was made by video conference from the Lincoln County Jail Monday morning. Jacob Shaffer's first court appearance was made by video conference from the Lincoln County Jail Monday morning.
Tennessee and Lincoln County investigators swarmed the area around multiple crime scenes Saturday afternoon. Tennessee and Lincoln County investigators swarmed the area around multiple crime scenes Saturday afternoon.
Another person was found by Huntsville police at a local business after a tip from Lincoln County investigators. Another person was found by Huntsville police at a local business after a tip from Lincoln County investigators.

By Elizabeth Gentle - bio | email and Trang Do - bio | email
Posted by Dana Franks - email

FAYETTEVILLE, TN (WAFF) - A medical examiner from the state of Tennessee said five people were killed by the estranged husband of one victim by multiple stab wounds.

The deadly weekend rampage that left six dead in Tennessee and Alabama began in Huntsville, police said.

Sgt. Mark Roberts with the Huntsville police said Monday that the first victim was 50-year-old Sidney Wade Dempsey, who worked at Hall Cultured Marble Granite and was an acquaintance of the man arrested in the case, Jacob Shaffer.

Roberts said Dempsey appears to have died from blunt force trauma.

Shaffer was arraigned Monday in Fayetteville, where five of the victims were found Saturday. He participated in the arraignment via a secure television signal from the Lincoln County Jail.

Shaffer, 30, from Fayetteville, was charged with five counts of criminal homicide in connection to the slayings by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. He is reported to have confessed to the slayings.

Lincoln County, TN authorities and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation confirmed that Shaffer's wife, 38-year-old Traci Shaffer, was found dead in her home at 34B South Lincoln Road along with her son, 16-year-old Devin Brooks, and his friend and neighbor 16-year-old Robert Berber.

Traci Shaffer's brother, 34-year-old Chris Hall and her father, 57-year-old Billy Hall, were found dead in their home at 31 South Lincoln Road.

Lincoln County Sheriff Murray Blackwelder said at a news conference late Saturday afternoon that his department is investigating three crime scenes.

"This is one of the worst crimes Lincoln County has ever seen," Blackwelder said. "And it's a tremendous crime scene."

TBI spokeswoman Kristin Helm said Shaffer was found on the front porch of one of the Lincoln County homes when deputies arrived at the scene.

"At about 10:30 a.m., our department received information from the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office," said Sgt. Mickey Allen with Huntsville Police Department's Major Crime Unit. "They apparently have a person in custody who has confessed to several homicides there. He also confessed to a homicide here in Huntsville also. Officers were sent to this location and that has been confirmed."

"Apparently the information led right to [the Huntsville business], and very explicit details and the officers were able to locate the victim," Allen said. "We have no clue as yet of what unfolded there and how it relates to here."

The Tennessee Bureau Investigation said that the motive in the case is domestic violence.

James Wilson, the longtime boyfriend of Traci Shaffer's sister, said that she was estranged from her husband.

"They were separated. I'm not sure on how that was going, sometimes he was here, sometimes he wasn't, and I guess he just showed up," Wilson said.

Traci Shaffer's 4-year-old and 9-year-old daughters were uninjured in the massacre and are now being cared for by family members.

Jacob Shaffer had a long history of citations by Alabama law enforcement officers, including several driving-related charges, eviction from a former residence for not paying rent, and a suit filed by Huntsville Utilities for non-payment of charges. He had also been the subject of a harassment charge in Morgan County in 2000, but the charge was later dismissed.

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.

Jacob Shaffer is currently being held without bond at the Lincoln County Jail.

Donations can be made to the Hall Family Memorial Fund at any location of Redstone Federal Credit Union.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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