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6 slain in 2 US states; suspect in custody: Cops

world Updated: Jul 19, 2009 10:01 IST

Six slayings in two communities about 48 kilometers apart in Tennessee and Alabama are linked, and a suspect who was sitting on the front porch of a home where some the bodies were found was being questioned, authorities have said.

Five people, including members of the same family, were found dead in two rural homes near Fayetteville in southern Tennessee yesterday, 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, 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 yesterday. 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 a local marble and granite store late yesterday morning.