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Mountain City Couple Murdered; Baby OK PDF Print
Written by Steve Frank   
Wednesday, 01 February 2012 09:15

A Mountain City couple is dead—murdered in their home—with their 6-month old child found unharmed in her mother’s arms.  The horrific scene was discovered yesterday morning at 10:30 a.m. when a man who had previously lived in the neighborhood came by the James Davis Lane home. Johnson County Sheriff Mike Reece told the Johnson City Press that the Paynes collected the mail sent to the man’s old address and held it for him, leading to his discovery of the horrific scene.  Sheriff Reece told the paper, “At first, I thought it was a murder suicide, but that was quickly proved not the case.” The dead are identified as Billy Clay Payne Jr., 36, and his girlfriend Billie Jean Hayworth, 23—each shot in the head, according to the sheriff, with Payne also having his throat cut. Sheriff Mike Reece said their 6-month-old baby was found in his dead mother’s arms—unhurt. The baby is now with his maternal grandmother. The last person to see the couple alive on Tuesday was Payne’s father, Billy Payne Sr., as the couple and their child lived in the elder Payne’s home. The sheriff said he told investigators he left the house at 5:30 a.m. for his job in Boone, and saw Hayworth had gotten up to feed her child. Payne was found still in bed by investigators, Hayworth dead in the baby’s room. Reece told the paper there did not appear to be any struggle and there did not appear to be a forced entry, and no weapons were found.  No one in the neighborhood saw or heard anything in the five hours between the mother being seen and the discovery of the double homicide. Anyone with information on this case is asked to call the sheriff’s department at 727-7761.

  
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