Husband, stepfather arrested in December double murders

Published: Sep. 29, 2008 at 8:59 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2008 at 10:24 PM CDT
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It's been almost 10 months since the crime.

Jason Payne was arrested for two counts of murder. His wife 35 year old Nichole Payne, and his stepson 16 year old Austin Taylor Wages were found dead in their Wood County home last December.

Within the months that followed lots of evidence, including two large holes which appeared to be graves, were located on the property just behind the residence attributed to the arrest. Today KLTV 7's Danielle Capper received the probable cause affidavit and has what lead authorities to this arrest.

The arrest affidavit describes it all - from the 9-1-1 call Jason Payne made that morning to the 5 hour interview a short time later. But investigators say ultimately, it was their forensic work at the crime scene that ultimately got an arrest.

"I'm sorry it took this long but I'd rather had the case right," said Sheriff Dwaine Daugherty.

Through their work with forensic experts and the Texas Rangers, Wood County investigators determined it was not a real murder-suicide, but staged to look like one.

The affadavit states that no fingerprints, smudged or otherwise were on the rifle, indicating that someone wiped the weapon clean after it was fired. Austin could not have done this because he was deceased.

The affadivit goes on to say a rag found in Jason Payne's truck had Nichole Payne's blood on it.

Authorities say this indicates that the defendant either used the rag to wipe the gun down or to wipe Nichole's blood off himself.

But the final straw came out in therapy last week. The couple's young child who was home that morning said saw her daddy shoot her mommy and brother.

"This should be some type of closure for the family," said Sheriff Daughterty. "It was very time consuming but I'm very proud of my people for staying with this working with case up and bringing it to a closure."

Authorities say after countless hours they are pleased the man they believe responsible for these deaths is behind bars, a sentiment echoed by Wood County residents.

"I think it's a job well done. I'm really happy they have caught him, that justice will be done."

The affidavit also said Payne did not work and was having financial problems and a few months had before taken out a $100,000 life insurance policy on Nicole - a policy where he was the sole beneficiary.

Payne is in the Wood County Jail on $200,000 bond.

We received this statement from the families.

"Our families are relieved and thankful the Wood County investigators have made an arrest for the murders of Austin Taylor Wages and Nichole Hawthorne Payne.

We now pray that justice will be served in the Wood County court system. We miss Taylor and Nichole. Our lives are changed forever because of this tragic loss.

Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to the law enforcement officers in Wood County who have worked so hard these past ten months to break this case."

Danielle Capper, reporting.