Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Kristin Helm said in an e-mail that 30-year-old Jacob Shaffer, of Huntsville, was being questioned but no charges have been filed. She said he was sitting on the front porch of one of the homes in Lincoln County when deputies arrived and that he was being held by local authorities.
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 that the killings happened Friday night or early Saturday.
Authorities did not release ages, but Karon Weatherman, who lives about a half-mile away, said she saw children as young as 4 and 5 running back and forth between the homes that are across the road from each other in the rural area near Fayetteville.
Huntsville Police Sgt. Mickey Allen, who works for the city's major crimes unit, told TV station WAFF that based on the suspect's information, police found a body at Hall Cultured Marble Granite late Saturday morning.
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 about a year ago in the area made up of mostly rental houses.
"I wouldn't expect nothing like this to happen," she said.
Fayetteville is a town of 7,000 people about 90 miles south of Nashville near the Tennessee-Alabama border. Huntsville is the largest city in northern Alabama with more than 170,000 people and is about 30 miles south of Fayetteville.