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Driver in fatal church van crash now facing federal robbery charges

11:32 PM, Mar 6, 2013   |    comments
Tyler Schaeffer
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 PDF Document: Schaeffer Indictment

A Seymour man facing charges in a deadly church van crash has now been indicted on federal robbery charges.

Authorities say Tyler Schaeffer, 21, was driving an SUV that crashed head-on into a Cedar Grove Baptist Church van.  The wreck killed youth leader Jeff Trussell and 16-year-old Courteney Kaliszewski. Ten others were injured.  Schaeffer faces dozens of charges in that case, including vehicular homicide by intoxication, vehicular assault, DUI, and drug charges.

Before those charges were filed, Schaeffer was arrested on burglary charges as soon as he was released from the hospital after the crash.  He's being held in the Sevier County jail. The charges accuse Scheffer of taking part in six business robberies in the last three years. Several are in the Seymour area, including Romantic Escapades, a Subway shop, and a Dollar General store.

On March 5, a federal grand jury returned a 14-count indictment against Schaeffer for one count of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery, seven counts of Hobbs Act robbery, four counts of brandishing a firearm during a robbery, one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methylone, and one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.  The Hobbs Act deals with crimes affecting interstate or foreign commerce. 

In that same indictment, Jerel Bray-Shawn Johnson, 20, of Knoxville, was charged in the conspiracies to commit Hobbs Act robbery and to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methylone, as well as two counts of Hobbs Act robbery, and two counts of brandishing a firearm during a robbery. 

In addition, Rodney James Ruffin, 21, of Sevierville, was charged in the same indictment with conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery, one count of Hobbs Act robbery, and one count of brandishing a firearm during a robbery.


 

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