Maplesville woman found dead in Talladega National Forest, two Bibb County residents arrested

Published 1:20 pm Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Michael Belcher and Chylli Bruce have been charged with capital murder. 

Two people have been charged with capital murder after the body of a 29-year-old Maplesville woman was found in the Talladega National Forest early Monday morning.

Michael Belcher, 31, and Chylli Bruce, 18, were charged with capital murder for allegedly murdering Samantha Christine Payne. Belcher is from Centreville, and Bruce is from Brent.

According to Lt. Kip Hart, assistant commander of the Tuscaloosa Metro Homicide Unit, Payne’s body was discovered Monday morning just off of South Sandy Road in Tuscaloosa County around 100 yards into the woods.

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“[Monday] morning shortly before 9 a.m., some hunters were in the national forest down off South Sandy Road in Tuscaloosa County when they came across what appeared to be human remains,” Hart said.

According to District Attorney Michael Jackson, Payne’s body was found tied to a tree with stab wounds, but Hart could not confirm that.

Hart said the cause of death has not been determined yet, but Payne’s body has been sent to Montgomery for an autopsy.

Investigators believe Payne was murdered on Nov. 2 after she was taken against her will and assaulted.

Hart said investigators are still piecing together information to determine the relationship between Payne and her alleged killers.

“We’re not sure of the relationship between Belcher and Payne. We know that they know each other. We know that when she left Chilton County that’s who she supposedly left with going toward Bibb County,” Hart said.

“We don’t know what her relationship is or if she knew Bruce, but we do know that Bruce and Belcher know each other.”

Belcher and Bruce were developed as suspects due to run-ins with law enforcement last week.

According to Hart, Bruce was arrested on Nov. 2, along with Stephen George, 27, on drug charges, and Belcher was reported as a suspicious person near where Payne’s body was found.

“The car broke down we believe after they were taking her body to the woods. They (Bruce and George) walked to try to get some help from a guy at the shooting range, and he thought it was kind of suspicious the way they were acting, so he called Hale County deputies,” Hart said.

According to Hart, Belcher walked the opposite way from Bruce and George.

“He said his car broke down, and he was looking for a ride,” Hart said.

“Other than being a strange character, there was no reason to detain him or anything like that, so he was allowed to leave.”

Hart said the deputies that encountered Belcher, Bruce and George last week were working the scene when they recalled their run-ins near with them near that same spot.

“It just so happened that the deputies that were working recalled everything from a week ago … so we kind of started piecing stuff together and found enough evidence and witness statements to charge Bruce and Belcher last night with capital murder,” Hart said.

Hart said he expects more arrests to be made.

According to Payne’s Facebook profile, she studied at Wallace Community College Selma, but according to school officials Payne is not currently enrolled.

Hart said investigators are still interviewing witnesses and processing evidence to determine how Payne was murdered and why.

Check back later for more details as they are released by the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.