MOUNTAIN CITY — Sheriff Mike Reece said the investigation into the murders of Billy Payne Jr. and Billie Jean Hayworth is continuing. The sheriff said his investigators and agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation conducted their first interview with Janelle Potter on Thursday.
Potter is the daughter of Marvin Potter Jr., 60, who is accused of shooting both Payne and Hayworth in their residence on Jan. 31. Investigators believe Mr. Potter committed the crimes in retaliation after the couple removed Miss Potter from their friends list on the popular Internet social networking site Facebook. Mr. Potter is charged with two counts of first-degree murder.
Investigators say Potter was accompanied during the double homicide by Jamie Curd, 38, who is said to be Miss Potter’s ex-boyfriend. Curd is also the second cousin of Payne. Curd is also charged with two counts of first-degree murder. In the arrest warrant, TBI Special Agent Scott Lott said Curd “aided in the commission of the homicides.”
Miss Potter has not been charged with any crime, but Sheriff Reece said she is known to react strongly to being de-friended. He said the TBI has obtained subpoenas for Miss Potter’s Facebook account.
“The first time I had contact with her was when she and her father came to the sheriff’s office and she was very upset because the 911 director had taken her off his list,” Reece said. “I really couldn’t understand, but they were really upset.”
The sheriff said Miss Potter was involved in two court cases involving harassment on the Internet and telephone lines. Reece said Payne and Hayworth were witnesses for the plaintiffs in the cases. Curd was a witness for Miss Potter.
One of the cases involved Brandon Osborne and his wife. Reece said Osborne and Payne worked together. Payne was going to ride to work with Osborne on the day of the murder. Reece said Osborne came by Payne’s home at 128 James Davis Lane at 6:30 a.m.
When Osborne could not get any response from the residence he drove on to work without Payne. Investigators know Payne’s father left for work an hour earlier, helping to set the time frame for the murders. The bodies were discovered at 10:30 a.m. The couple’s baby boy was still in his dead mother’s arms.
Since Reece gave the motives for the murders, the story has gone national. Reece said he has received phone calls from several places and a reporter from New York has called him twice and missed him both times on Thursday.
“I was talking with a TBI agent about it and we thought the part about Facebook would make national news,” Reece said.
Newspapers such as the Washington Post and the New York Daily News carried the story in their Thursday editions and placed it in their websites.