Story and Video Provided By: KSLA Raycom Media
A prominent East Texas businessman is dead, more than thirty-six hours after his wife found him in their home with almost every bone in his face crushed.
"He was just a Shelby County icon. I can't imagine Shelby County 'Haynes Community News' without him," says local resident Tina Byrnes.
People who knew Vance Payne are him are literally in pain over the news of what happened to him in his own home. Payne was a landowner, community activist, radio personality, friend, and family man.
"We don't have any answers at all right now. We've got a real mystery on our hands," says Shelby County District Attorney, Lynda Kay Russell.
Russell says Payne was found reclined in a chair at home with a newspaper was lying on his chest.
He was breathing, according to paramedics, but unconscious.
One doctor told detectives it looked like a beating from a baseball bat.
"It was the worst case of skull fracture that he's ever seen," says Russell.
Payne was last seen in Center Texas around 10am, Wednesday morning.
His wife found him around 11am.
Investigators say it's a small window of opportunity, but it's part of a bigger puzzle that they are trying to piece together.
"At this point and time there are some things that are not accounted for," says Russell. She would not elaborate on what types of things.
Residents say they are really worried. Recently, there has been a rash of residential burglaries.
"(It) Started with (people) just going up in the garage and stealing things, into actually prying open windows and crawling into the home while people were sleeping," says Russell. "It happened to the couple that lives next door to me."
The Payne family is asking for its privacy, while the community is begging for answers.
"That's where you got all your information in Shelby County (from Vance Payne). I just can't imagine the mornings without him," says Byrnes.