Fifth suspect charged in Maplesville woman’s death
Published 4:13 pm Wednesday, December 2, 2015
A fifth person has been charged in connection with the kidnapping and murder of a Maplesville woman found tied to a tree in a West Alabama forest.
Steven Keith George, 27, of Brent, faces charges of capital murder in the death of Samantha Payne.
George has been in the Hale County Jail on unrelated drug charges. He’s since been transferred to Tuscaloosa County and is being held without bond.
Four others, all from Bibb County, were previously charged in Payne’s death, whose body was found Nov. 9 near the Hale and Tuscaloosa county lines in the Talladega National Forest.
Last month, Michael Belcher, 31, and Chylli Bruce, 18, were charged with capital murder in the case. A few days later, Marcus Kind George, 34, and Alyssa Sue Watson, 22, were arrested on first-degree kidnapping charges.
Payne left home to celebrate her 29th birthday in early November and wasn’t seen alive again.
The Tuscaloosa News reported that George told investigators that Belcher knocked Payne out and then put her in the trunk of a car with Bruce’s help. Court records show Belcher asked for George’s knife and that he gave it to him and left, saying he didn’t want to be involved.
Investigators are still working to determine the events that led to Payne’s murder and her relationship with the five suspects.
The suspects actually had a run-in with police back on Nov. 2 near where Payne’s body was later found.
On that day, Bruce and Georgia were arrested on drug charges. Officers also spoke with Belcher but he wasn’t charged with anything that day.
“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,” said Lt. Kip Hart with the Tuscaloosa Metro Homicide Unit in an earlier interview.
Belcher was also nearby walking the opposite direction 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.”
The deputies who encountered the three remembered the run-ins after Payne’s body was discovered.
According to Payne’s Facebook profile, she studied at Wallace Community College Selma, but according to school officials Payne was not enrolled at the time of her death.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.