Investigating the Death of Innocents

The other day I read Michael Orozco’s Investigating the Death of Innocents and used it and other sources to update Tyler Payne‘s casefile. I read the Kindle edition (I don’t have a Kindle but do have Kindle for PC) which cost $4.99. The paperback is $11.70.

I’ve written about Tyler before. I’ve got a lot of child abuse deaths on Charley but this one seems more horrible than most, perhaps because it’s more detailed. Tyler and his little sister Ariana were deliberately starved to death by his father and his father’s girlfriend, both of them drug addicts. Ariana’s body was found; Tyler’s was not and probably never will be. Dad’s on death row now and the girlfriend, who turned states’ evidence, is serving a 22-year sentence. This is all the more horrifying when you consider that Tyler and Ariana’s mother, Jamie Hallam, had full legal custody of them, and their father had pretty much abducted them, and both the police and child protective services did nothing to help; quite the contrary in fact.

Michael Orozco, author of the aforementioned book, is the lead investigator in the Payne case and the guy who discovered Ariana Payne’s body and missed Tyler’s. The book was okay. The writing style was pretty clunky, but the book covered the case in great detail, both the investigation and the trial. One of the reviewers thought Orozco was way too harsh on Jamie Hallam, but I didn’t think so. He also said something like, “Even if she was addicted to drugs, she loved her children, had always taken good care of her children, and did her best to get them back when Christopher took them away from her.” Jamie later settled a lawsuit with CPS for $1 million. They admitted they screwed up pretty bad. She lost her suit against the Tucson Police Department, though.

I feel really bad for Jamie. She was in such a no-win situation. She went through the proper legal channels to get her children back, and the system failed her. If she had actually tried to get them back herself, SHE would have been arrested and charged with kidnapping, and would have most likely lost the chance of ever seeing Ariana and Tyler again, and lost custody of her infant as well. Tyler and Ariana died horrible deaths and to this day, their father Christopher blames everyone but himself for what happened.

As for the book, I would recommend it if you want to know about the Payne case specifically, but not otherwise.

26 thoughts on “Investigating the Death of Innocents

  1. Saffy April 8, 2012 / 6:27 pm

    I remember this story now…the name didn’t ring a bell but then I recalled how they found that poor girl in the storage locker. Horrifying.
    I always wonder why kids go from one deficient parent to another and why these cases end so tragically. there was one like that in toronto not long ago. The mother gave custody of her daughter to a friend because of her own drug problems. The friend and her boyfriend beat the girl to death. They are still awaiting trial.

    • Meaghan April 8, 2012 / 10:01 pm

      Well, I suppose if you’re the kind of person who has drug or alcohol problems, chances are most of your friends do too.

  2. L April 9, 2012 / 12:14 am

    I live in the city where this happened and remember it vividly. So disgusting and vile these people were. Their mom maintains a blog online and just reading her words is heartbreaking.

  3. Kim April 9, 2012 / 1:13 am

    I am in AZ and I remember this sad case. Very upsetting to imagine the hell these 2 kids went through. Shame on everyone involved including CPS.

    • Melissa April 9, 2012 / 6:49 am

      You’d be surprised what one human being can do to another. Even parents to their kids. I am a forensic psychologist in Australia and I was working in the Queensland system at the time of that case, in a group therapy program that dealt with women who had murdered or attempted to murder their kids. Although it is absolutely abhorrent, there is sometimes little difference between ‘those’ women and ‘us’ women. If they had more support, less prejudicial upbringings themselves, hadn’t hooked up with the one particular guy at that particular time, etcetera etcetera. Which means, if we had less support, worse upbringings, etcetera etcetera…..there but for the grace of God go we. I think that’s what intrigues people about these sorts of cases – on some (perhaps unconscious) level, people can identify with them.

      Having said that

      • Melissa April 9, 2012 / 6:52 am

        Having said that, I believe there is a special place in hell reserved for those who harm children.

        I also know there is special treatment dished out in prisons to those who harm children. *evil cackle*

      • Saffy April 9, 2012 / 6:54 am

        yes, you’re probably right. They aren’t so much EVIL as they are people who make horrible choices. usually these cases happen when a couple is involved and both conspire to starve the kids and keep it secret. notice in this case the girlfriend hated the kids but her own child was taken care of. And they seem to be families in distress with few resources…they’ll have drug problems, mental problems, and receive little help or assistance. There is little doubt that if at least social services were more involved, kids like these would be spotted before it got to this tragic point.

  4. Princess Shantae April 9, 2012 / 7:37 pm

    The damaged attract the damaged.

  5. Saffy April 9, 2012 / 11:58 pm

    I think it’s just the extent of the cruelty and indifference. It’s one thing to beat your kid to death in anger. I’m not saying it’s BETTER. But to deliberately plan your child’s murder, or to lock them in a closet and let them starve, and torture them. We all have moment of extreme anger, so we can understand that emotion. But to remain utterly indifferent while your child starves to death, is truly mindboggling. There was a story like that here in Canada years ago,a couple who locked their 3 year old son in a closet and starved him to death. They had another child and ignored the 3 year old…it was so horribly sad. And the thing was they were visited by social workers but the mother kept lying to them. Anyways, both were given long prison sentences (now both released) and the baby was given up for adoption. They also got divorced. The only good thing is that the mother was too old to reproduce when she was released.

  6. Princess Shantae April 10, 2012 / 7:15 am

    And you can never say you didn’t know someb ody was starving. A baby or child that’s starving doesn’t just sit there quietly and waste away and die in his sleep. No way a parent or anybody else nearby can not know.

    • Saffy April 10, 2012 / 9:07 am

      exactly, it has to be deliberate. the couple i just mentioned were ‘unable to explain’ the child’s injuries. Like it just happened. Apparently they were feeding their new baby beer. And these were people in their 30s.

      • Meaghan April 10, 2012 / 12:59 pm

        They were feeding beer to Christopher Jr.?!

        I hope he got adopted by some person who actually knew how to take care of him and cared about him. Certainly the cards are stacked against him: the child of homicidal drug addicts, an orphan to all intents.

      • Saffy April 10, 2012 / 2:05 pm

        sorry, I was referring to the case of John Ryan Turner, He died in 1994. His mother’s name was Lorelei. You can find it through google but I’ll try and find something on it, Both parents were released from jail years ago.

      • Meaghan April 10, 2012 / 1:03 pm

        Oh, wait, I misunderstood. I thought you were still talking about the Payne case when actually you were referring to another.

        My comments about little Christopher still stand, though.

  7. Diane April 10, 2012 / 10:09 pm

    I’m sorry Jamie Hallam lost her suit vs. the Tucson PD. If the world were fair, she’d OWN the Tucson PD and they’d have to rename their main HQ the Jamie Hallam PD Building. I hope that she can eventually find the strength to rebuild her life and start a new family. This time with someone who’s worth being with her.

    BTW, I’m pro-death penalty and while I love that Christopher Payne got that as his punishment, I would actually be just as happy if he ends up escaping the needle only to be sentenced to life without parole in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Tent City, with trusted gang members given the task of making sure he doesn’t stand a chance of escaping. That would be almost as sweet and satisfying a fate for him, esp if he gets fed half the caloric intake he’s used to.

    • Meaghan April 10, 2012 / 10:12 pm

      I’m against the death penalty, but that doesn’t mean I have any sympathy for Chris Payne. His defense tried to use his drug problem as a mitigating circumstance. Well, when a person gets a drug problem it’s their own fault. Plenty of parents have drug problems; very few kill their kids, especially in such a horrible way. Jamie Hallam had a drug problem but she always made sure Tyler and Ariana were fed and taken care of, and when they were taken from her she did the best she could to get them back.

      I’ve read that she’s become an activist, in a minor way, for child safety and the parents of missing children. More to her.

      • Saffy April 10, 2012 / 10:29 pm

        same here. I am against the death penalty…but truthfully, there really is nothing I can think of that is bad enough for people like this. The best you can do it take them out of circulation where they can never reproduce. And remember, that inmates are not particularly kind to people who kill their kids.

      • Meaghan April 10, 2012 / 10:44 pm

        I am against the death penalty because of the expense, because of the possibility of executing the innocent, and because it makes us look bad to the rest of the world (most other countries, even third world ones, have no death penalty and view it as a human rights violation that makes the USA look even more like hypocrites). It has nothing to do with the multiple murderers and torture-killers who richly deserve whatever they get. The fact that I would rather the state not kill them has nothing to do with them as people.

      • Saffy April 10, 2012 / 11:32 pm

        believe it or not, there are still countries that HAVE the death penalty…Tonga for instance. But they probably haven’t had an excecution in years since the homicide rate is so low. Some countries only abolished it fairly recently…like Norway and France, who had capital punishment until the early 70s. Germany, however, abolished it in 1946, figuring they’d probably seen enough innocent people executed.

      • Meaghan April 10, 2012 / 11:34 pm

        As a regular writer for Executed Today, I know some countries still have the death penalty. But they’re a distinct minority — for example, every country in Europe except Belarus I think, as well as most or all nations in Latin America, have abolished it. India hasn’t, but they’ve executed only like two people in the past twenty years out of a population of almost a billion, so they might as well have.

      • Diane April 13, 2012 / 1:51 am

        ITA with you that drug addicts choose to be that way (by beginning their habits in the first place), but yeah, it’s not out of the question for a drug addict to be a good parent. I think Jamie Hallam did have her priorities straight and, while she may have struggled with a big old monkey on her back, she did seem like she was a fantastic mom to her precious angels. And she will be a fantastic mom again in the future — if she so chooses, that is.

        And I would be against the death penalty too if prison life weren’t more luxurious than life as a homeless person. There are people out there who deliberately commit crimes in order to get a warm bed to sleep in at night, three square meals a day, and full medical care. If all prisons could be run like Sherriff Arpaio’s prison camps and the savings used to increase funding for homeless initiatives throughout the country, I wouldn’t have a problem with seeing the death penalty phased out.

      • Saffy April 13, 2012 / 5:46 am

        i think that’s an odd reason for supporting the death penalty, because prisons are better than living on the streets? I agree murderers deserve the hardest of hard time, but this is still a democracy and they have rights.. You can’t just throw them in a dungeon and starve them. This is not the 15th century and prison, even if they get fed and have a bed, is not a hotel. The death penalty should be phased out because it is immoral and because innocent people are excecuted, not because prison is too luxurious. And even in Joe Arpaio’s prison, the inmates still have rights.

  8. J. Kauffmann May 3, 2012 / 6:39 pm

    As far as I know.. my sister Jamie wasn’t a drug addict. She was on a legal prescription. The father twisted that around as part of his defense.

    As far as the death penalty, in his case I am all for it. Provided of course that he suffers slow torture prior, preferably beaten and starved near to death and then trapped in a closet and locked in tupperware first.

  9. JP October 24, 2016 / 5:31 pm

    I was a juror on the the State vs. Christopher Matthew Payne trial. I served for 3 months and while I have been able to dodge the judicial system since, every year, their names surface in my mind and my Google browser. Sentencing someone with the death penalty, albeit deserved, doesn’t come without long term trauma.
    This case was a no-win situation. His family begged for his life and for mercy despite the evidence built up and the lack of his remorse. My greatest regret is not the sentencing him to death by injection, but that it still hasn’t been served. The cost of the death penalty, in clear-cut cases, where someone can never be rehabilitated and rereleased needs to be quicker. CMP had a lot of troubles from his younger years with the law. While, as the father, he was not worthy of these children, the mother wasn’t a prize winner, either. Where both sides had a legal records, and drug histories, I’m sure those TPD officials feel horrible enough for what happened to Ariana and Tyler. There is no need to add more debt to an already overwhelmed department for Jamie’s payday. It wouldn’t have made anything better. This case was a true tragedy. My prayers to out to the families, on both sides of this case, as the impact has been life changing.

    • Meaghan October 24, 2016 / 8:59 pm

      I have often heard that jurors in violent crime cases are severely impacted by the emotional trauma involved, to the point of getting PTSD.

      I appreciate the service you and your fellow jurors rendered. Our jury system isn’t perfect but I think we do the best we can with what we have.

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