Man who hit Sevier church van in deadly wreck was on probation

Man who hit Sevier County church van in deadly wreck was on probation

Posted:
Tyler Schaeffer (source: Knox County Sheriff's Office) Tyler Schaeffer (source: Knox County Sheriff's Office)

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The man who was driving the SUV that hit a Sevier County church van head-on Sunday in a fiery, deadly wreck has an extensive criminal history.

Records show Tyler Schaeffer has been arrested in Knox, Anderson and Blount counties. He's also been convicted on multiple charges, but he was out on probation in April.

Page after page of records details Schaeffer's criminal history.

In June 21, 2010 in Blount County, Schaeffer was arrested for aggravated burglary and wound up convicted.

One month later he was arrested for theft in Knox County. Those charges were dismissed.

A couple months later on September 7, 2010, Schaeffer was arrested for robbery in Knox County and later convicted.

On February 19, 2011, he attempted a robbery in Blount County and was convicted.

After three convictions, he was out on parole. It's something Knox County District Attorney General's spokesman  John Gill has a hard time understanding. "It's just surprising to me that he's out that quick," he said.

In Blount County on May 2, 2011, a judge ordered Schaeffer to serve 67 days in jail, time served and the remainder of a four-year sentence to be served under supervised probation.

Schaeffer was convicted on January 5, 2011 for the Knox County robbery and sentenced to six years in jail.

Schaeffer did 120 days in jail, time served. He was given five years and 245 days remaining on supervised probation. However, in August 2011 the probation was violated.

According to records, Schaeffer was arrested for aggravated robbery in Anderson County on February 24, 2011. He also tested positive for marijuana and failed to pay court costs and restitution.

These were just some of his reported probation violations.

Schaeffer was sent back to jail, but according to the Tennessee Department of Correction he qualified for a boot camp program. This is a structured program within the jail that offers education and substance abuse assistance.

Corrections officials say Schaeffer qualified because he was young and didn't have a lengthy sentence.

He entered the program in November 2011 and graduated on April 19 of this year. Upon graduation, inmates are released on probation, even with multiple convictions in multiple counties.

It's a program, John Gill says didn't work this time. "Even if he's someone who's never been to jail and something like this happens it makes you feel terrible, but if he should have been in jail and it happens, it makes you feel even worse. If the system's failing, then we all fail," he said.

When released from the boot camp program, Schaeffer had 14 conditions for probation. He had to obey the law, pay court costs and other fees, perform community service and not use or possess illegal drugs.

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