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 Amazon.com 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.

Lawsuit against police dismissed in Tyler/Ariana Payne case

A recap: Tyler and Ariana Payne were abducted by their non-custodial father, Christopher Payne, in Tucson, Arizona in 2006. He took them from their mother, Jamie Hallam, for what was supposed to be a few days, and never gave them back. Hallam had full custody of the kids, who hadn’t seen their father in years. He had no visitation rights, but he convinced Hallam to let him see the kids. After a few months of trying to get Christopher to return the children, Hallam called the police. They located the children, but on the (bad) advice of Arizona’s Child Protective Services, refused to return them to their mother. Christopher, you see, had filed for temporary custody. Never mind that no decision had been made and Hallam, their mother who had raised them from birth without Christopher’s help, still had full custody. Never mind that Christopher was $19,000 behind in his child support payments. The kids stayed with their father.

A few months later, Tyler and Ariana were both dead, having been systematically starved and abused by their father and their stepmother, Reina Gonzales. Ariana’s body turned up in a storage locker in 2007, after Christopher the Genius stopped making the rent payments. (Way to evade detection, dumbass.) Tyler’s was never found. Christopher was sentenced to death and Gonzales to 22 years for the kids’ murders.

Hallam filed a lawsuit against CPS and the Tucson PD, arguing — quite rightly — that if they had just done their damn jobs properly and returned the kids to her, the custodial parent, then they wouldn’t have died. CPS settled and admitted they made “mistakes” in the case. And (I just found this out), back in October, the case against the police department was dismissed. According to this article:

In a nine-page decision released today, Judge Carmine Cornelio said there was no evidence on that day “that there was a high probability that substantial harm would result from their failure to remove the children from (Christopher Payne’s) custody and care.”

[…]

In his ruling, Cornelio pointed out the first time there was any indication there was anything wrong in the Payne household was in mid-April when one of Payne’s relatives said Ariana appeared “dirty and scrawny” and when Gonzales said Payne lost his job and began abusing the children.

“Given the lack of temporal connection between the time of TPD’s visit to Payne’s apartment on March 9, 2006, and any evidence concerning the abuse and neglect, plaintiffs cannot establish causation between TPD’s actions and the abuse of the children,” Cornelio wrote.