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Police: Ala. Murder Tied to Tenn. Rampage

The man accused in a rampage that killed six people first beat an acquaintance to death at an Alabama business and then moved north into Tennessee, where he repeatedly stabbed his estranged wife, her family and a neighbor, authorities said Monday.

Jacob Shaffer, 30, has been charged in the deaths. His wife, Traci, and her son and his friend, both 16 were found in her house in Fayetteville. The bodies of Traci Shaffer's brother and father were found in a home nearby.

Dr. Amy McMaster of the Tennessee medical examiner's office said Monday that all the victims found in Fayetteville had multiple stab wounds. McMaster did not know what kind of weapon was used.

Authorities have said the motive was "domestic," though it was unclear why Sidney Wade Dempsey, 50, was attacked, said Sgt. Mark Roberts of the Huntsville, Ala., police department. Dempsey died of blunt-force trauma at Hall Cultured Marble Granite, where he worked and was allowed to live, Roberts said.

"I think the guy (Dempsey) was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I think the guy (Shaffer) just decided to start there," Roberts said.

Roberts said Shaffer confessed to killing all six victims. A friend of the victims said the family of Traci Shaffer, 38, owned the Alabama granite business.

Jacob Shaffer was arraigned on homicide charges Monday in Fayetteville, Tenn. He faces five counts there and another in Alabama.

Shaffer appeared by video link between the Lincoln County Jail and a courtroom, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit and handcuffs. He answered the judge's questions by saying only "yes" and shaking his head in response.

General Sessions Judge Andy Myrick appointed two assistant public defenders to represent Shaffer.

Family friend James Wilson said he had seen fights between Jacob and Traci Shaffer. He said police told him Shaffer spared the couple's 4-year-old daughter, who was home at the time, but investigators haven't yet confirmed that.

"As far as seeing him do something like this, you just can't see it," Wilson told The Associated Press. He said he is dating Traci Shaffer's sister, Jennifer.

"She's not handling it and I can't blame her," he said. "What can you say to someone who has lost everybody?"

Traci Shaffer was found dead Saturday in her home along with her son, Devin Brooks, and neighbor Robert Berber, both 16, said Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Kristin Helm. The bodies of Traci Shaffer's brother, Chris Hall, 34, and father Billy Hall, 57, were found in a home across the road.

The Shaffers were no longer living together but had not filed for separation, said Wilson, who was gathering belongings from Traci's house in Lincoln County. Wilson said he met Jacob Shaffer when they were installing drywall, but they had stopped being friends about a year and a half ago.

Shaffer was still installing drywall around Huntsville, and Billy Hall had been driving him back and forth to work before the couple split, Wilson said.

"Her dad done everything he could for Jacob," Wilson said. "I have no idea why he walked across the street to her daddy and her brother. Her daddy never done anything wrong."

Traci Shaffer's slain son and a 9-year-old daughter who wasn't home at the time were from a previous relationship, Wilson said.

Helm said that the family died Friday night or early Saturday, and that Jacob Shaffer was sitting on the porch of one of the houses when authorities first arrived. Huntsville police said information from him led them to the body at the granite business.

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

By Associated Press Writer Travis Loller

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