After killing Dempsey, Shaffer then went to Tennessee where he killed his wife, her son, her father, her brother and a teenage neighbor.
Prosecutors said Shaffer began his killing spree with the beating death of Dempsey to test his mettle to kill his wife and members of her family.
First Murder Was a Test
"He admitted he killed Sidney Dempsey to see if he had the mettle to go kill his wife and the others," said prosecutor Jay Town. "It was a test. He was just seeing if he could do it."
Town wanted to seek the death penalty in Alabama for Dempsey's death, but previous court rulings that tossed his confession of the crimes would have made it difficult to prosecute.
"Jacob Shaffer does not deserve the possibility of life in prison without parole," Town told reporters.
However, Shaffer agreed to a plea death in Tennessee and Alabama that allowed him to avoid the death penalty in both states. In 2011, he pleaded guilty in Tennessee and is already serving life sentences there.
Daughter Not Harmed
On September 18, 2009, Fayetteville, Tennessee police received a call from Shaffer who told him he had killed his wife. They found him sitting on the front porch with his 4-year-old daughter who was not harmed.
Inside a duplex apartment at the scene, police found shot to death Traci Shaffer, 38, his wife; her son Devin Brooks, 16; and his friend Robert Berber, 16.
At a house across the street from the duplex, they found the bodies of Traci's father, Billy Hall, 57; and her brother, Chris Hall, 34.
Shaffer told police that his primary target was his wife and the others were killed so that they would not get in his way. Before going to Fayetteville, he killed Dempsey at Hall Cultured Marble and Granite in Huntsville to see if he could do it.
Man Charged With Killing Wife, Her Relatives
Photo: TBI Mug Shot