Samantha Payne, a 29-year-old woman from Alabama, was reported missing on Nov. 9, 2015. That exact morning, around 9:00 AM, a man discovered Samantha in the Talladega National Forest. He quickly contacted law enforcement to report what he’d discovered. He’d found a woman fastened to a tree with barbed wire, entirely naked. Her throat was cut open and her head was detached from her corpse.
Payne Was Goin To A Party
On Oct. 30, 2015, Payne left her parent’s home. She told her mum that she was going to a Halloween party. It also happened to be her 29th birthday. That was the final time her mum saw Samantha alive. Samantha never came back from the Halloween party. For reasons unclear, the mum Susi Payne did not report her daughter missing until Nov. 9, the exact day Samantha’s tormented remains were found out in Tuscaloosa County.
Dr. Steven Dunton conducted an autopsy on Samantha Payne shortly after she was recovered. The autopsy was tough because the majority of her internal organs were missing. Dunton could not infer the reason or manner of Payne’s casualty. “We just didn’t have enough of her remains to recognize why she died,” he later testified. Nonetheless, he wrote in his report that the situation of her finding appeared to suggest that Samantha had been killed.
Payne Was Dead
Payne was found in Talladega National Forest, linked to a tree.
After it was reported that a corpse had been discovered in Talladega National Forest, a police officer called investigators and told them something strange. He told that he’d recently caught a suspicious pair near that region. Officer glimpsed them because they were covered in blood; he found that suspicious. The two were searched, and he discovered meth on them, so they were caught. The two were Steven George and Chili Bruce. It should be remarked that Chili was only 18 years old at this time.
Investigators met up with Steven and Chili and inquired them about Samantha Payne. They both told that a man named Belcher was responsible for the killing. Chili and Steven confessed that they were involved in Payne’s death, but they contended that Belcher was the person who’d murdered her. Chili, Steven, and Belcher were all accused of Capital Murder soon afterward.
According to Chili and Steven, the killing occurred on November 1, and the entire thing started while they were all sitting around doing meth. They were hanging out and getting high at a repair shop owned by Belcher’s dad.
Steven decided that they should steal the catalytic converter and battery from Samantha’s vehicle. He snatched her car keys out of her bag while she was using the toilet, and then he drove her car out to a bridge where he withdrew the converter and battery from the car. He then punctured the car’s fuel tank and set it on fire.
It took Samantha a lengthy time to acknowledge that her car was missing, but when she eventually noticed, she was furious. She accused the others of stealing her car and threatened to call the police if they didn’t return it. And that is when they decided to murder her; because Michael worried that if she called the police, they’d find all the meth. She was taken to Belcher’s home, and that is where the torture started.
She was forcibly stripped, hogtied, and mercilessly whipped for hours. Her fingernails, toenails, and many teeth were ripped out with pliers. Belcher said they had to murder her because she’d threatened to call the police about her car being stolen. At the exact time, Samantha said she “loved and forgave” the people that were harming her, promising to notify nobody if she was let go. This fell on deaf ears; the suffering only escalated.
Samantha Payne was murdered on Nov. 1, 2015.
Finally, she was put in the trunk of Belcher’s car, and he drove her out to Talladega National Forest. At some point, she managed to flee from the trunk, so they had to stop and stuff her back in. Later, they reached the forest. That is where she was linked to a tree; Belcher cut her throat open as she begged for her life.
Police executed search warrants on Belcher’s house and car, and they discovered a lot of evidence that appeared to substantiate much of what Chili had told him. Specifically, they discovered clothes belonging to Payne inside Belcher’s car. They also discovered Payne’s car battery inside Belcher’s home.
Chili Bruce and Steven George were both ultimately authorized to plead guilty to lesser penalties in exchange for testifying against Michael Belcher. Chili received a verdict of 20 years, with eligibility for parole after 5 years. Steven’s plea deal was far more drastic, he got life in jail with eligibility for parole only after 15 years.
Michael Belcher was convicted and sentenced to death for his role in the killing.
Belcher told he was willing to plead guilty if he got a similar deal as Steven, but that was rejected. Prosecutors wanted to seek the death penalty against Belcher and would not offer or accept any plea bargains with him. Two other people, Alyssa Watson and Marcus George were later accused as well. Nonetheless, they were charged with 1st-degree abducting instead of capital killing.
The trials of Alyssa and Marcus were combined into a single trial. The most crucial pieces of proof were cell phone records and the testimony of Chili and Steven. The prosecution contended that cell phone pings substantiated that the two defendants were at the spectacle of the crime while Samantha was being tortured, and they made no try to help her. Marcus and Alyssa were both found guilty of 1st-degree abduction, and convicted to 30 years in jail.
Michael Belcher’s trial started on Mar 11, 2019. His attorney did not contend that he was innocent. Rather, he argued that Belcher should be found guilty of felony killing instead of Capital Murder. His attorney said: “Michael Belcher didn’t begin this; he didn’t stop it, but he didn’t start it.” Nonetheless, Belcher was found guilty of capital killing and convicted to death.