Families killed in ‘safety’ of home


Families killed in ‘safety’ of home
July 21, 2009

HOME is where the hurt is.

Two mass murders, both committed at home, in the US and in Australia, proved that sometimes it’s safer to be outside rather than in.

So brutal was one of the cases that even police officers were being counselled.

In the US case, AP reported yesterday that six people believed to be from one family were killed in three different places across two states.

The alleged murderer was arrested while sitting on the porch at one of these homes and has since been charged with the deaths.

Five of the dead were found in two neighbouring rural homes near Fayetteville in southern Tennessee on Saturday.

A sixth body was discovered at a business about 48.3km away, authorities said.

Jacob Shaffer, 30, of Fayetteville was charged on Saturday with homicide and was jailed without bond.

Investigators said the victims were four adults and two juveniles, but their names and ages were not being released until they were identified and next of kin notified.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Kristin Helm said in an e-mail: ‘Most of the victims are suspected to be related. The motive of the killings is domestic.’

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

He did not release the victims’ names and would not confirm the causes of death in what he called ‘horrendous’ killings and ‘one of the worst crimes Lincoln County has seen’.

Helm said the Tennessee victims were killed Friday night or early Saturday.

Shaffer was sitting on the porch of one of the Fayetteville houses when authorities first arrived Saturday.

Huntsville police Sgt Mickey Allen, who works for the city’s major crimes unit, said that based on the suspect’s information, police found a body at Hall Cultured Marble Granite on Saturday morning.

Authorities have not said how the slayings in the two communities were linked.

While authorities have not released the victims’ ages, Karon Weatherman, who lives about a half-mile away from the Tennessee homes, said she saw children as young as 4 and 5 running back and forth between the houses across the road from each other.

In Australia, ABC News reported yesterday that five people were murdered in their home in north Sydney.

The bodies were believed to be a 45-year-old man and his 43-year-old wife, their sons aged 12 and 9, and the woman’s 39-year-old sister.

They were found by a relative on Saturday morning after being bludgeoned to death with a blunt instrument, suffering blows to the head and upper body.

Homicide squad Detective Superintendent, Geoff Beresford, said an earlier suggestion of a murder-suicide had now been ruled out and it appeared the five were all murdered in a targeted attack in the North Epping home.

He said a strike force had been set up to determine the circumstances of the deaths and a number of options were being explored.

‘At this stage it appears that this particular murder does not bear the hallmarks of a typical home invasion.

‘Whilst we can’t totally rule out robbery, robbery does not seem to be an issue in this case.’

Detective Superintendent Beresford described the slayings as brutal.

He said: ‘It is extraordinary, it’s extremely violent and certainly unusual in my experience to have this many people murdered on the one occasion. A terrible tragedy.’

Acting Superintendent Stephen Henkel said the relative who discovered the bodies, and investigating police, had been counselled.

He said: ‘Any incident like this is upsetting for any person, not only police, and their welfare is being looked after.’

He added there had been no link established with a recent armed robbery that the father was a witness to.

But one of his kids survived.

A teenage daughter who had been overseas visiting relatives had returned to Sydney, now having to face life as an orphan.


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