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Ariana Payne
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 2:45 pm    Post subject: Ariana Payne Reply with quote

Police arrest girlfriend of man accused of killing daughter

By Alexis Huicochea
Arizona Daily Star
03-08-2007

Tucson Police have arrested the girlfriend of a man accused of killing his 4-year-old daughter and stashing her body in a North Side storage locker.

Reina I. Gonzales, 22, was arrested Thursday on one count of child abuse in connection with the death of Ariana Payne, said Assistant Chief Roberto Villaseñor of the Tucson Police Department.

Gonzales had been living with Ariana's father, Christopher Payne, at the time of the girl's death and had the opportunity to intervene on Ariana's behalf but did not, Villaseñor said.

She is now being held at the Pima County jail.

Christopher Payne was arrested March 1 on one count of first-degree murder and one count of child abuse after his daughter's body was found in a plastic tub Feb. 18.

Ariana's remains were discovered by the manager of the U-Store-It near East Prince Road and North First Avenue who noticed a foul odor coming from a plastic tub inside a storage unit. The manager had begun clearing out the unit after the renter stopped making payments.

Since Payne's arrest, police have said that Ariana's brother, 5-year-old Tyler, also may be the victim of foul play and are asking for the public's help in finding him.

Gonzales is not the mother of the children.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call 791-4499, Ext. 1238, or 88-CRIME, the anonymous tip line of the Pima County Attorney's Office.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 2:47 pm    Post subject: Second arrest made in death of girl found in storage locker Reply with quote

Second arrest made in death of girl found in storage locker

RYN GARGULINSKI
Tucson Citizen
3-8-07


A second arrest was made Thursday in the case of Ariana Payne, the 4-year-old found dead in an East Prince Road storage locker, a Tucson police spokesman said.

Reina I. Gonzales, 22, the live-in girlfriend of alleged child killer Christopher Payne, was arrested and charged with one count of child abuse, said Asst. Chief Roberto Villaseñor at a Thursday news conference.

"This was based upon the fact she was living with Mr. Payne at the time these incidents occurred and had the chance to intervene but did not take advantage of that," Villaseñor said.

He would give no further information on what happened to Ariana or what Gonzales allegedly knew about her death. Nor would he disclose the couple's latest known address.

Gonzales and Payne had been living together in Tucson for at least a year and had a child together, a son named Christopher Payne Jr., born in 2004, police said.

The 2-year-old boy, who police described as "healthy" earlier this week, is in the custody of Child Protective Services, Sgt. Mark Robinson said.
Gonzales, who listed her occupation on Pima County Jail records as an unemployed waitress, had past brushes with the law for a slew of traffic violations.

Payne, 28, who was arrested March 1 and charged with first degree murder of his daughter, has an arrest record that dates back to 1994. Most were drug and alcohol violations that were dismissed outright or after he completed brief jail stints and probation. He is being held in Pima County Jail with bail set at $1.5 million.

Payne's other son, Tyler, 5, Ariana's brother, is still missing, police said. They would not answer any questions about Tyler or the investigation into his disappearance.

According to family of Payne's ex-wife, Jamie Marie Hallam, Payne picked up Tyler and Ariana some time late last year and did not return them even though Hallam had primary custody. It was the last time Hallam's family saw them alive. Payne and Hallam divorced in 2003.

Hallam is not a suspect in Ariana's death, police said last week.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 2:49 pm    Post subject: Accused killer's girlfriend charged in death of young girl Reply with quote

Accused killer's girlfriend charged in death of young girl

KVOA
March 9, 2007

There are new developments in a little girl's murder investigation.

A woman who lived with the accused killer now faces charges herself.

News 4 was there as 22-year-old Reina Gonzales appeared in video court at the Pima County Jail Thursday night.

She was formally charged with Felony Child Abuse in connection with the death of a young girl whose body was hidden in a Midtown storage unit.

Here are the Quick Facts:

Gonzales' arrest is the second in this investigation.

She's tied to the case because she was the live-in girlfriend of 28-year-old Christopher Payne.

Payne was arrested a week ago on First Degree Murder and Child Abuse charges because Tucson Police think he's responsible for the death of the little girl, found in the storage unit.

Police think the little girl's remains were that of Christopher Payne's 4-year-old daughter, Ariana.

Ariana has an older brother, Tyler, and police also fear that Tyler is dead.

Thursday's arrest of Payne's girlfriend, Gonzales implies that she somehow, is connected to Ariana's death.

But her family told News 4 that she had nothing to do with it.

While Reina Gonzales spends the night behind bars at the Pima County Jail facing Felony Child Abuse charges, her family paints a whole different picture.

"Reina was a victim," says her aunt, Jeanette Rabago through tears.

Her cousin, Marisela Gonzales also told News 4, "We feel that Reina is a victim."

Reina Gonzales' mother, cousin and aunt said they wanted to set the record strait.

They say Reina was a victim of mental and physical abuse by Christopher Payne.

"She said, 'Mom, I didn't go visit you because he had beaten me up so bad. I didn't want you to see my face,' " said Reina's mother, Jenny Gonzales.

Reina and Christopher Payne lived together and have a 2-year-old son together, Christopher Payne, Jr.

Jenny Gonzales adds, "My daughter is a good daughter and a very good mother. She loves her son dearly."

The three women say they had met Christopher Payne's two other kids.

One of them was little Ariana Payne.

Police suspect that her body was the one found in a "U-Store-It" storage unit near 1st Avenue and Prince Road last month.

None of the women say they have any idea where Payne's son might be.

Jenny Gonzales remembers both Ariana and Tyler fondly, saying, "They used to call me Grandma Jenny, and they were yearning for love. Both of them would sit on my lap. You could tell they were yearning or love."

The women admits that Reina at one time was addicted to heroin, but they say she was not involved in hurting the two children.

"If she had {known} about what he had done, she would have left to tell somebody what was going on, but she didn't know," said Rabago.

News 4 has learned that 2-year-old Christopher Payne, Jr. is in foster care.

Meanwhile, Reina Gonzales is at the Pima County Jail on $100,000.000 bond.

Her preliminary hearing is set for Monday, March 19th at 1:30pm.

Ariana's brother, Tyler Payne, is still missing.

Tucson Police are hoping someone will come forward with information on his whereabouts.

If you know anything, please call the Tucson Police Department tip line at (520) 791-4499 ext: 1238.

You can also call (520) 88-CRIME.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 2:50 pm    Post subject: More Charges For Accused Child Killer Reply with quote

More Charges For Accused Child Killer

By Christopher Francis
KOLD News 13
March 14, 2007


A man accused of killing his four-year-old daughter and leaving her remains in a storage locker faces more charges. Christopher Payne is now charged with the death of her five-year-old brother.

On Monday, a Pima County grand jury indicted Payne on two counts of first-degree murder as well as child abuse charges. The indictment says Payne allowed his children to starve to death.

One murder count is for his daughter, four-year-old Ariana. Her body was discovered in a midtown storage locker last month. The indictment also says her father caused or permitted Ariana's bones to be broken.

The second count is for Payne's son, five-year-old Tyler. His body has not been found, but police believe he was the victim of foul play.

Police searched the Los Reales landfill for clues in the case but didn't find anything.

Payne's girlfriend is also facing charges in the case. 22-year-old Reina Gonzales was arrested Thursday. She's charged with child abuse, but police aren't giving specifics.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 2:53 pm    Post subject: Suspect in 2 kids' deaths is indicted Reply with quote

Suspect in 2 kids' deaths is indicted

By Kim Smith
Arizona Daily Star
03-13-2007


A Tucson man suspected of killing his 4-year-old daughter and hiding her body in a storage unit was indicted Monday on charges that he killed her and her 5-year-old brother, whose body has not been recovered.

According to a Pima County indictment, Christopher Mathew Payne, 28, abused Ariana Payne and Tyler Payne before killing them sometime between March 9, 2006, and Sept. 1, 2006.

The indictment states Payne caused or permitted Ariana's bones to be broken and "failed to seek prompt medical attention and/or allowed the victim(s) to starve to death."

Payne was indicted on two counts each of first-degree murder; child abuse with death or serious physical injury likely; and abandonment and/or concealment of a body.

David Berkman, the chief criminal deputy for the Pima County Attorney's Office, would not comment on the evidence against Payne because the case is pending.

Sgt. Mark Robinson of the Tucson Police Department said he could provide no further information. John O'Brien, deputy Pima County public defender, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Payne was arrested on March 1 after his daughter's body was found in a plastic tub on Feb. 18.

Ariana's remains were found by the manager of a self-storage business near East Prince Road and North First Avenue. The manager noticed a foul odor coming from a plastic tub inside a storage unit. The manager had begun clearing out the unit after the renter stopped making payments.

Last week, Payne's girlfriend, Reina I. Gonzales, 22, was arrested on suspicion of child abuse in connection with the death of Ariana.

Police said Gonzales had been living with Payne over the last year and had the opportunity to intervene on Ariana's behalf but did not.

Court documents indicate Ariana and Tyler were at the center of a custody battle between Payne and their mother, Jamie Hallam.

Payne and Hallam were married in June 2002 but had taken steps to end their marriage by March 2003. Each parent accused the other of substance abuse, court records show.

Tucson Police Chief Richard Miranda said police had contact with Payne and the children at some point, but it is unclear when.

Arizona Child Protective Services released a statement last week saying it had no reports that Payne had abused or neglected his children.

The agency did receive reports that he children were neglected by another person, and the agency stayed in contact with Payne regarding those reports, its news release says.

"CPS did not place the children with Mr. Payne," the news release said. "The children were placed with Mr. Payne by another individual family member, and our investigation revealed no information that the children were at risk of harm with him."

A man who answered the phone at Hallam's residence on Monday said she was not giving media interviews.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call 791-4499, Ext. 1238, or 88-CRIME, the anonymous tip line of the Pima County Attorney's Office.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 2:57 pm    Post subject: Medical examiner won't say how Ariana died Reply with quote

Medical examiner won't say how Ariana died

DAVID L. TEIBEL and SHERYL KORNMAN
Tucson Citizen
03-13-07


Forensic pathologists know what killed Ariana Payne, but Pima County's deputy chief medical examiner would not say today how she died.

The girl's father, Christopher M. Payne, and his girlfriend are in the Pima County jail on murder charges in the death of the girl and her brother, Tyler Payne, 5. His body has not been found.

Dr. Eric Peters, Pima County's Deputy Chief Medical Examiner, said today he had not seen the murder indictment in the case and would not comment specifically on what is believed to have caused the child's death.

He said a final autopsy report, which could be made public, was expected to be finished in a week or more.

The indictment handed up by a Pima County grand jury Monday evening charges that Ariana and Tyler Payne were allowed to starve to death. It also states that Christopher Payne moved a dead body or body parts with intent to conceal them and that he allowed the children "to be placed in a situation where (their) health was endangered."

Payne lived with his girlfriend Reina Gonzales and their child, who has been taken into state custody by CPS.

Last Wednesday, Ariana and Tyler's mother, Jamie Marie Hallam, who has not been charged in the deaths, lost custody of her 5-month-old baby, Autumn, to CPS. Hallam's stepfather is trying to get custody of Autumn.

Both children are in state-supervised foster care.

Peters, stressing that he could not comment on the death of Ariana Payne, said that in general, a pathologist can determine if a person who has been dead for a period of time had starved to death by looking at their growth and their bone development.

Lack of normal growth and bone development can indicate starvation, Peters said.

When Ariana's body was found - before she was identified - police had estimated the child's age as 2 years old. Police later said the child was 2 to 4 years old.

Peters would not say how long he thought she had been dead before her body was found Feb. 18 in a rented storage locker in Tucson.

Police had no comment shortly after noon today, said Sgt. Mark Robinson, a Tucson police spokesman.

The childrens' stepgrandfather, Richard Barcalow said he, his ex-wife and stepdaughter Jamie Marie Hallam had made numerous telephone calls to try to find the children after their father failed to return them to Hallam.

He said Payne had moved and they could not locate him.

Barcalow said Payne had not seen his two children for about two years before taking them for the weekend last winter.

Payne has a criminal record in Tucson municipal court dating back to 1997.
His most recent arrest before he was charged with murdering his two children was in August 2006, according to city court records.

He was charged on Aug. 31, 2006 with one count of possession of drug paraphernalia and found guilty on March 2, 2007 - one day after he was arrested in the death of daughter Ariana. At the same time, he also was charged with driving with a suspended license and pleaded guilty to that charge.

In 2000, he was charged with intimidating, threatening or harrassing by telephone and was found guilty in 2003 in municipal court. In 1999 he was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and found guilty a month later. He was sentenced to community service and counseling.

In 1996 he was charged with providing liquor to a minor. He pleaded guilty. He also was charged at the same time with one count of a minor using a watercraft after drinking liquor and was found guilty in that case.

This morning, Child Protective Services spokeswoman Liz Barker in Phoenix was asked for comment on the indictment of Payne in the deaths of his children. As of 12:45 p.m. today, she had not returned the call.

In an earlier statement issued last week, she said CPS had no indication Payne was not a fit parent and the agency left Ariana and Tyler Payne in his care last year.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 2:59 pm    Post subject: Document: Slain girl was last in custody of her father Reply with quote

Document: Slain girl was last in custody of her father

By Alexis Huicochea and Dale Quinn
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
03.14.2007


The man accused of killing his two young children and leaving one's remains in a storage locker told police that he was the last person to have custody of his daughter and that he placed her body inside a plastic container, according to a court document.

According to the document filed by police in Pima County Justice Court on March 1, it was determined that 4-year-old Ariana Payne, whose body was found inside a North Side storage unit in February, sustained non-accidental trauma and her death was ruled a homicide.

Ariana's brother, 5-year-old Tyler, is also believed to be dead but has yet to be found.

According to court records, Christopher M. Payne, 28, was indicted Monday on two charges of first-degree murder, three counts of child abuse and two counts of abandonment or concealment of a dead body.

Police declined to comment on the indictment but did say they are continuing to search for Tyler's remains.

According to the indictment, Payne abused Ariana and Tyler before killing them sometime between March 9, 2006, and Sept. 1, 2006. It says Payne caused or permitted Ariana's bones to be broken and failed to seek prompt medical attention and/or allowed her to starve to death.

Ariana's body was found inside a storage unit at U-Store-It near East Prince Road and North First Avenue, by a manager who noticed a foul odor coming from a plastic tub.

Payne was arrested less than two weeks later, and the arrest of his live-in girlfriend followed March 8.

According to a court document filed by police, Payne's girlfriend, Reina I. Gonzales, also was caring for Ariana and Tyler when the children disappeared.

She told police that she never left the apartment, and witness statements indicate that during that time the children were harmed and living in an abusive environment, the document said. It goes on to say that Gonzales "never called or protected the children." She was subsequently arrested on one count of child abuse.

Witnesses also told police that they had seen bruising on one of the children, so out of concern, they questioned the child, who said that Payne was the person who inflicted the injuries, according to the document. Those witnesses said Gonzales was aware of that abuse and still did nothing about it.

Child Protective Services issued a statement early in March that said an investigation revealed no information that the children were at risk of harm with Payne. The release also said police received a call a year ago related to the custody of the children and concerns for their welfare. At the time neither agency had reason to believe the children wouldn't be safe with Payne.

The children, who were supposed to be in the custody of their mother — Jamie Hallam, were placed with Payne by "another individual family member," according to Child Protective Services. Spokeswoman Liz Barker Alvarez said she could not say who that family member was.

"This is a very, very terrible case, and we are working with the detectives," Barker Alvarez said.

She would not release any additional information about the case, including whether a social worker was assigned to check on the children's welfare.

Dr. Eric Peters, Pima County's deputy chief medical examiner, said he could not release the cause of Ariana's death or when she died because the Police Department is still conducting its investigation.

Attempts to reach Jamie Hallam were unsuccessful.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 3:03 pm    Post subject: Legislative committee to review CPS in Tucson child deaths Reply with quote

Legislative committee to review CPS in Tucson child deaths

KVOA
3-30-07


TUCSON, Ariz. -- A legislative committee plans to review state Child Protective Services actions in several recent child deaths in Tucson and may call agency officials to testify, a lawmaker said Friday.

The House Government Committee, which has its staff already looking into the cases, may call CPS officials to testify during a closed-door meeting next month.

The findings could lead to changes in law, said Rep. Jonathan Paton, a Tucson Republican who called for the inquiry. While the hearings would focus on the Tucson cases, legislators could examine other cases as well.

"We'll be looking into whether there are things we need to change at our level to protect children in Arizona," said Paton, vice chairman of the committee.

The meetings will be closed because state law mandates that Child Protective Services cases be kept private. Legislators can review the cases because they have oversight power, but they're legally forbidden to talk about them, according to Paton.

He decided to hold the hearings after a private briefing on the cases, but he noted that he was not allowed to comment on what he had learned.

The scrutiny follows several incidents in the Tucson area.

Brandon Williams, 5, died March 21 after his mother gave him a lethal dose of Tylenol PM pills and other medication, authorities said.

CPS officials had made contact with the family on "several instances," according to the Pima County Sheriff's Department. The boy's mother has been arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder and child abuse.

Earlier in the month, 4-year-old Ariana Payne was found dead in a storage locker and her brother, 5-year-old Tyler, remains missing. Their father has been charged with killing the children. In that case, CPS investigated the family and found no reason to remove the children from their father.

"Because there are deaths this close together and after investigating it myself, I felt we as a committee needed to do an investigation," Paton said. "And so I talked with the speaker (of the House), and he agreed to get the ball rolling."

Government Committee Chairman Kirk Adams, R-Mesa, still needs to be briefed on the cases before hearings are scheduled. But Paton said he envisions the hearings lasting several days, and officials outside CPS could also be called to testify.

Rep. Steve Farley, a Tucson Democrat who sits on the committee, said that if the intent of the hearings is to objectively examine the situation, he supports holding them.

"I'm hoping it's not a witch-hunt situation," he said. "If you underfund an organization, it's difficult for them to do their job properly."
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 3:05 pm    Post subject: Woman accused of child abuse fights for custody Reply with quote

Woman accused of child abuse fights for custody

Lupita Murillo
KVOA
April 3, 2007

A woman accused of child abuse involving the deaths of her live in boyfriend's children is fighting to get out of jail and regain custody of her 2 year old son.

Ariana Payne was 4 years old. Her remains were found inside a rental storage locker near Prince Rd. and 1st Ave. in February.

Her 5 year old brother Tyler's remains are still missing.

Their father, Christopher Payne, is charged with first degree murder in their deaths. Reina Gonzales was his live-in girlfriend. Now she's a guest of the Pima County Jail.

Brick Storts represents Gonzales. He says it's a horrible case and very tragic.

He filed paperwork to get Gonzales released from protective custody. She's in a cell by herself 23 hours a day.

Her attorney, Brick Storts, says Child Protective Services has a number of conditions she needs to meet before she regains custody of her 2 year old son.

But she can't meet the requirements when she's locked up. Currently the child is with a family member.

Storts says his client never witnessed Payne abusing her's or his own children.

She tells her attorney the two children who are presumed dead went from their home to their mother's home frequently.

So it came as no surprise to her when she returned from spending the night at her Aunts home the children were gone. She says Christopher told her they went to live with their mother.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 3:08 pm    Post subject: Police plead for tipster to call back, help with landfill se Reply with quote

Police plead for tipster to call back, help with landfill search
Cops looking for 5-year-old's body; sister found dead in Dumpster

DAVID L. TEIBEL
Tucson Citizen
4-06-2007


Tucson police late Friday repeated a plea made earlier in the day for an anonymous tipster in the Payne child murder case to call them back with more information.

That person's call to 88-CRIME on March 2 or 3 prompted police yesterday to search the Los Reales landfill for the second time in the investigation.

Police confirmed Friday they are looking for the body of 5-year-old Tyler Payne at the sprawling landfill near South Craycroft and East Los Reales roads.

Police found the body of his sister, Ariana Payne, 4, on Feb. 18, in the Dumpster of U-Store-It on East Prince Road. Richards said police are operating under the premise that Tyler was also in that Dumpster at some point.

Richards said the 88-CRIME caller said, "Tyler's body may have been disposed of with Ariana's.

"We are pleading for this individual to contact us," Richards said.
The storage locker where Ariana was found was rented late last year for her father, Christopher M. Payne, by another man police have said is not a suspect in the case.

U-Store-It employees cut Payne's lock off the locker and sealed it with a company lock Feb. 7 after rent payments went unpaid, Richards said.

While inspecting the locker for items that could be auctioned, employees found a rubber tub with a sealed lid that was emanating a foul order and was not considered suitable for auction, Richards said, adding they threw the tub in the Dumpster two days before the body was found. But then, suspicious of what was creating the smell, employees called police Feb. 18.

A patrol officer was sent, found Ariana's body and called in homicide detectives, Richards said.

Both a detective and the patrol officer climbed into the Dumpster and looked for additional evidence, but found no other body, Richards said. They did not empty the Dumpster onto the ground during their search, he said.

But, as to whether Tyler's body, which may have been disposed of with Ariana's according to the 88-CRIME caller, was overlooked by the officer and detective, Richards said he thought not.

He said Payne did not have access to his locker from Feb. 7 to Feb. 18 and that during that time a trash company had emptied the Dumpster, hauling its contents to the landfill.

Had Tyler's body been in the Dumpster before Feb. 7 it should have been gone by the time police were called, Richards said.

But the 88-CRIME call has rekindled interest in the landfill, Richards said.

He said he would like detectives to be able to talk to the caller to get more specific information if Tyler's and Ariana's bodies could have been disposed of together.

Standing in blowing dust and wind at the landfill Friday morning, Richards said, "If there is a little boy out there we need to recover his remains and give him a proper burial."

The tipster is asked to call 791-4499 Ext. 1238.

Police searchers used a back hoe Friday to dig exploratory holes to try to figure out how far down refuse from the time period surrounding disposal of the bodies would be.

Richards said police searched throughout the day. He said police would search again Saturday and would bring in cadaver dogs to assist in the Saturday search.

The garbage is heavily compacted and the boy's remains could be pulverized, making them hard to see in the landfill's dirt and clutter.

A lieutenant, three sergeants and 10 detectives searched today.

The area is about 300 feet by 100 feet - 30,000 square feet, about two-thirds of an acre.

Regarding the tip, Richards said, "There's enough credibility to what this person said to bring us back out here."

Richards will decide at the end of the day Saturday whether to continue the search.

Christopher Payne has been indicted on two counts of first-degree murder. The indictment said the children may have starved to death.

A search in early March of the landfill revealed nothing of significance in the slaying investigation, police said last month.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 3:10 pm    Post subject: Police end landfill search empty-handed Reply with quote

Police end landfill search empty-handed

Arizona Daily Star
04-07-2007


Tucson police ended their search Saturday morning for the remains of 5-year-old Tyler Payne in the Los Reales landfill without recovering anything of evidential value, Sgt. Decio Hopffer said.

Police descended on the landfill, 5300 E. Los Reales Road, Friday after an anonymous tipster had said Tyler's body had been disposed in the same way as his 4-year-old sister, Ariana.

Ariana Payne's decomposing body was discovered by police Feb. 18. She was found in a plastic tub that had been kept in a storage locker at U-Store-It, 519 E. Prince Road.

The children's father, Christopher Matthew Payne, 28, is charged with the murders of his children.

A third party had rented the storage locker in late September or early October, but after a month it had fallen into default, police have said. U-Store-It took possession of the locker on Feb. 7 and workers threw away its items that couldn't be auctioned, including the tub containing Ariana's body, into a trash bin on Feb. 17. Disturbed by the smell coming from the plastic tub, workers called the police the next day.

Despite finding Ariana's body and some evidence in the trash bin, police did not thoroughly search it, and Tyler's body may have also been inside the bin.

Police have stressed they don't know if Tyler's body was in the trash bin or if it may have been removed at an earlier date. Nevertheless, they were searching a section of the landfill that held trash that was dumped between Feb. 7-19.

Police also searched the same section of the landfill in early March. Police spent Saturday morning sifting through debris with cadaver dogs in the hope of finding at least fragmentary remains of the 5-year-old boy.

Capt. Bill Richards, who was overseeing the landfill search, was not
available for comment.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 6:07 pm    Post subject: CPS under investigation: new details Reply with quote

CPS under investigation: new details

Kristi Tedesco
KVOA Tuscon
4/23/07

News 4 has new information on a developing story: the Arizona lawmakers' investigation into child protective services, and the deaths of three Tucson children.

Four year old Ariana Payne, her 5 year old brother, Tyler and 5 year old Brandon Williams all turned-up dead or missing in the course of a month in Tucson.

All three children, at one time, were on the CPS radar.

It started when Ariana's body was found in a midtown storage unit back in February.

Tyler's body still hasn't been found, but detectives keep going back to a local landfill, thinking he could be here.

And then in March, Brandon Williams died at a local hospital. Police believe his mother and a friend gave him more than a dozen sleeping pills and Tylenol PM. Brandon's body reportedly showed obvious signs of abuse.

News 4 couldn't get access to the children's CPS records, so we asked Tucson lawmaker Jonathan Paton to look at the files for us.

Under a gag order, Paton couldn't tell us what he found. But he did immediately call for an investigation.

"What I'm specifically interested in," Rep. Paton told NBC's The Today Show, "is finding out how we can open up the process so it's more open for the public to know what's going on and we make sure there's a timely response time for abuse in the family."

Rep. Paton says his colleagues are taking steps this week to move the investigation forward, concerned over the deaths of Ariana, Tyler and Brandon.

Meanwhile, News 4 has received a document that could shed light on how children within the CPS scope could fall through the cracks.

An internal directory for CPS dated April 3, 2007 shows 13 CPS specialist openings in Pima County. This would include CPS investigators and case managers who are responsible for looking after children like the Paynes and Brandon Williams.

Ken Deibert, a Department of Economic Security director, says statewide, "20 or 30 positions" need to be filled.

A spokesperson for the DES, which oversees Child Protective Services, says this document is not a reliable source for staffing and, in fact, says the numbers have been more significant in Pima County. Just 2 months ago, the official numbers pointed to 26 vacancies.

Pima county's program manager says other workers just have to pick up the slack.

"We don't live in a perfect world," says program manager Lillian Downing, "where everything falls to place every time and you always have everything you need. Part of social work is to find the strengths that are available to you, work with that, and do that with skill and finesse."

"I want to make sure we have the best, the best people involved to solve these problems," says Rep. Paton. "And we don't want to be understaffed or overstaffed with people who aren't well-trained and people who don't know what they're doing."

As for the deaths of Ariana, Tyler, Brandon and any other children with ties to CPS, Deibert says it has less to do with staffing than it does with individual families.

"Circumstances change rapidly in families. I wish we had a crystal ball and that we could predict when horrible things are going to happen to kids."

A number of state lawmakers have either read or requested the Payne file.

Tomorrow, Paton says, they'll also open the CPS file on Brandon Williams' family.
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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 5:03 pm    Post subject: We need to remove secrecy over cases from CPS playbook Reply with quote

We need to remove secrecy over cases from CPS playbook

Laurie Roberts
The Arizona Republic
May. 2, 2007


I'd like to tell you that the state of Arizona did everything it could to try to save 4-year-old Ariana Payne. I'd like to tell you that 5-year-old Tyler Payne died despite our best efforts. That there was nothing we could have done for Brandon Williams, a 5-year-old who carried the scars of abuse to his grave.

Child Protective Services was supposed to be watching Ariana and Tyler and Brandon. I'd like to tell you that CPS did its job, that despite the agency's best efforts, sometimes kids in this state just don't have a prayer of seeing 6.

I'd like to, but I can't. The truth is, we have no idea whether CPS did its job or botched the whole operation. It's a secret.


Two legislators have enough questions about what happened to these children that they're launching an investigation. Just don't hold your breath waiting for answers.

In order to get to the truth, they've had to swear to keep the facts secret from us mere taxpayers who fund the agency but apparently have no right to know how it's working.

Penalty for clueing us in on what the heck is going on over at CPS? A felony conviction.

"You have to have a confidential briefing and you have to sign this confidentiality form or I end up in an orange jumpsuit," said Rep. Jonathan Paton, in explaining why he couldn't answer my questions.

Paton's the Tucson Republican who grew concerned when three Tucson tots supposedly under the watchful eye of CPS turned up dead within a month. He reluctantly signed the required confidentiality pledge in order to view CPS files and was so concerned by what he saw that he went to House Government Chairman Kirk Adams.

Adams signed the same secrecy pledge and was so concerned by what he saw that he decided to hold hearings this summer.

"There may have been opportunities on more than one occasion to save these children," Adams said, dropping hints that CPS may not have been the only agency that could have done more.

But, of course, he can't say any more.

CPS is so shrouded in secrecy that it's impossible to know what goes on there, though what good confidentiality does for dead kids is beyond me.

Ariana and Tyler went to stay with their dad for a weekend in January 2006 and never left, according to Tucson police. In March 2006, their mother, who had custody, called police and asked for help in getting them back.

Turns out CPS had urged Christopher Payne to keep the kids and seek custody. A CPS supervisor told police that the agency was investigating the mother.

"She felt it would be best for the children (to) stay with their father," police wrote.

Ariana's badly decomposed body was found Feb. 18 in a plastic tub in a storage locker. She'd been starved to death. Tyler's body may never be found. Police believe it's in a landfill.

Payne has been charged with murdering and abusing both kids, and his girlfriend faces abuse charges.

CPS won't release any information, saying Pima County prosecutors have asked them not to. Meanwhile, the agency hasn't responded to a request for information on Brandon Williams.

The autistic boy died March 21 from a drug overdose. His mother, Diane Marsh, and her housemate, Flower Tompson, have been charged with murder and abuse.

According to the Pima County Sheriff's Office, Marsh gave the boy 12 adult doses of Tylenol PM. The child had scars on his arms and ankles from being tied up and blisters on his feet from having been immersed in scalding water.

Police say CPS had had an open file on the boy for five months. So why, you might wonder, hadn't its investigators noticed the scars?

I can't answer that. It's a secret.
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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 5:06 pm    Post subject: Woman rejailed in Payne case after violating release conditi Reply with quote

Woman rejailed in Payne case after violating release conditions


David l. Teibel
Tucson Citizen
5/2/07


A woman tied to the Ariana Payne case who was released from jail just 11 days ago is in custody again today, having failed to meet with a caseworker, a deputy county attorney said.

Reina Gonzales, 23, first was arrested March 8 and ordered held in lieu of $100,000 bail on a charge of child abuse of the 4-year-old whose body was found Feb 18 in a storage locker.

But Superior Court Judge Richard S. Fields ordered her release April 20, provided she comply with at least eight conditions he set for her.
When Gonzales failed to make her first meeting April 27, Pretrial Services staffers filed a motion to revoke her release, Deputy County Attorney Bunkye Chi said.

At a revocation hearing Tuesday, Fields had a sheriff's deputy assigned to his court take Gonzales into custody and ordered her rebooked in the Pima County Jail on $10,000 bail, she said.

Before Gonzales' release last month, Chi had argued against freedom on anything less than the bail originally set in the case.

Chi said she told Fields that Gonzales could be a flight risk, noting the seriousness of the charge and Gonzales' history of substance abuse.

Gonzales, however, was undergoing drug treatment when she was taken into custody, had never been arrested and had always held a job, said defense attorney Brick P. Storts III.

Also, Storts in arguing why his client wouldn't flee jurisdiction, said the lifelong Tucson resident has a 2-year-old son and other family members here.

"Any slip and she's probably going to be back in custody," he said the day of her release.

Gonzales' boyfriend, Christopher M. Payne, 28, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of child abuse with death or serious physical injury likely, and one count of abandonment or concealment of a body.

Payne was charged in the death of daughter Ariana and that of his 5-year-old son Tyler Payne. Though Tyler was never found, Tucson police suspect his body lies somewhere in the Los Reales Landfill on the city's Southeast Side.

Ariana's body was found three months ago decomposing in a covered plastic tub inside a rented midtown storage locker.
Investigators believe Payne abused and killed his two children last year between March 6 and Sept. 1, Deputy County Attorney Susan Eazer has said.

Payne is being held in jail in lieu of $1.5 million bail.
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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Death penalty sought if dad convicted in killings
Christopher Mathew Payne accused of slaying son, daughter

A.J. Flick
Tucson Citizen
5/4/07


The Pima County Attorney's Office intends to seek the death penalty if a Tucson man is convicted in the deaths of his two young children.

On Wednesday in Superior Court, prosecutors filed the notice to seek death against Christopher Mathew Payne, 28.

Payne was indicted last month on two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of child abuse with death or serious physical injury likely and one count of abandonment or concealment of a body in the deaths of his 4-year-old daughter, Ariana Payne, and his 5-year-old son, Tyler Payne.

Ariana's body was found Feb. 18 decomposing in a covered plastic tub in a rented North Side storage locker.

Tyler's body has not been found, although police suspect his remains could be in the Los Reales Landfill on the Southeast Side.

According to the notice by Deputy County Attorney Susan Eazer, prosecutors will seek death if Payne is convicted because:

● He will have been convicted of one or more homicides connected to the case.

● He was an adult at the time of the deaths and the victims were under 15 years of age.

● The offenses were committed in an "especially heinous, cruel or depraved manner."

Payne's next scheduled court appearance is May 7 before Judge Richard S. Fields.

The filing of the notice makes this the only active capital murder case in Pima County, excluding resentencings.

Assistant Public Defenders John O'Brien and Rebecca McLean were appointed to represent Payne.

Capital murder suspects are allowed to have two attorneys, and two prosecutors will handle his case.

Before the case proceeds, Payne will be evaluated to see whether he is mentally impaired. The U.S. Supreme Court has banned executions of the mentally retarded.

If Payne's case proceeds to trial as a capital murder case, the trial will have three phases: the guilt phase, to determine whether he committed the crimes; the aggravation phase, to determine whether the conditions under which prosecutors are seeking death have been proved; and the sentencing phase, in which a jury will decide whether he is sentenced to death or will be sentenced by a judge to life with or without the possibility of parole.

Payne's girlfriend, Reina Gonzales, 23, is charged with child abuse in Ariana Payne's case.

Investigators believe Payne abused and killed his two children last year between March 6 and Sept. 1, Eazer has said. Gonzales was living with him at the time.
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