Sheriff: Interviews continue in Johnson County double slaying

John Thompson • Feb 1, 2012 at 3:55 PM

MOUNTAIN CITY — The Johnson County Sheriff’s Department continued its investigation on Wednesday into Tuesday morning’s murder of Billy Clay Payne Jr., 36, and his girlfriend, Billlie Jean Hayworth, 23, at their home at 128 James Davis Lane.

Both were shot in the head and Payne’s throat was cut. Their infant son was found in his dead mother’s arms but was unhurt.

Sheriff Mike Reece said his investigators and agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spent most of Wednesday in interviews with anyone who might have some knowledge of the couple and anything from their past that might provide a clue as to the motive behind what the sheriff believes was a revenge murder.

Meanwhile other deputies and another TBI agent spent all day Wednesday going into the community talking to anyone who might provide some piece of information.

“I was hoping we might have an arrest tonight, but it doesn’t look like it is going to happen,” Reece said late Wednesday afternoon.

Reece said the next step is to bring all the officers together and go over every bit of information gathered.

“I want everyone to talk to everyone else and compare it with what they have been told,” Reece said.

By that method, Reece hopes to begin to unravel a mystery that has few clues. There did not appear to be a struggle at the home and it did not appear there had been a forced entry. No weapon was found. Also, there were valuables in the home but nothing was reported stolen.

The sheriff’s department was expected to receive preliminary autopsy results on Wednesday.

The sheriff encouraged anyone who has any information to call the sheriff’s department at 727-7761.

The murders have stunned the quiet community where the family lived and the rest of Johnson County.

Neighbors said the family was quiet and never caused a problem. Payne was described as a hard worker who often put in 12-hour days.


The Associated Press also contributed to this report.

Recommended for You

    Johnson City Press Videos