Unraveled Between the Bed Slats

20 September 1934 – New Trial Asked by the Payne Sisters
Glasgow Times’ article

“Notie Dunbar and Dora Payne, sisters, sentenced to 31 and 10 years, respectively, by a jury in Circuit Court Monday, for the murder of their father, Hayden R. Payne, near Tracy several months ago, yesterday filed motion and grounds asking for a new trial.
“In their appeal they state they were not represented by a competent and sane lawyer, despite their advice at the time of his employment, that he was a sober, discreet, profound, painstaking, and efficient lawyer. The motion was accompanied by several affidavits bearing on the conduct of the attorney.
“The sisters contend that, following the killing of their father, they advised their attorney of the true nature of his tragic demise, and have substantiated a plea of self-defense.
“The motion recounts the actions of the family, from the time of arising early in the morning until the killing, in the effect that while Dora was at the barn milking, Notie preparing breakfast was summoned by her one-armed father to procure a clean suit of underwear for him. Responding to his call she entered his room and was attacked by him with a ‘weapon wrapped in paper’. A struggle ensued,during which she and her father fell to the floor, her father on top. She had called her sister, who responded, and to separate them, Dora entwined his neck with rope and jerked him off. When she did so he released his hold on the ‘weapon’ which Notie procured and struck him on the head.
“In their excitement following their discovery that he was apparently dead the statements indicate that they attempted to remove him to his bed, but finally left him in the posture in which he was found by neighbors, in an attempt to make his death appear as a suicide, in as much as they did not know that they might have had a right to take his life in defense of their lives.
“The motion will be heard by Judge Fulton today or tomorrow.”

NOTE: To make it look like a convincing suicide, they took the rope entwined around his neck and tied it to the bed slats. In their haste, or the fact they didn’t know how tight it would need to be to be convincing, the rope was haphazardly wrapped and knotted, and when the body was later moved to be examined, it came easily unraveled.
Then there was his busted head!
I am in no way, shape, or form, mocking nor making light of the seriousness of this incident. But there was other testimony stating the sisters had been claiming for several years their father was senile, and that other members of the family and community were trying to take advantage of that fact, and get the old man, who they also claimed was hateful and cruel to them, to sell the farm out from under them, which would leave them destitute and homeless if he should pass away.
I have not further investigated this to find the outcome of this tragic situation.

About Gclee

I am a long time genealogy and local history hunter from Barren Co., KY. I have many stories to share that may be of interest to other local genealogists and history buffs. I enjoy this as a hobby and hope I can be of encouragement to others. I also hope everyone enjoys my stories as much as I have enjoyed learning about them.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Unraveled Between the Bed Slats

  1. Janet Steenbergen says:

    I was told by my mother a different version of what happened with their father.She was living in Austin at the time this occurred.I won’t repeat the story because some of this family probably exists and I would not want to shame them.

  2. Ann Fife says:

    they were later retried and found innocent, the whole trials are open records, there was presented evidence of abuse, over the years…..ann

    • Gclee says:

      I had a recent request on this, and I didn’t have any names until just recently to start any research. I plan to go more into the subject later, but I’m like Janet S. and didn’t want to step on any toes. This is more recent than some of the things I’ve worked with before, and I know the chances are higher that some of the people involved may still be alive. It is not my intention to hurt or embarrass anyone, but you are right about the records being open and a matter of public scrutiny.

      • Brenda Bush says:

        Hayden Payne’s last surviving child died out of state a couple years ago. His grandchildren do not live in Ky and I doubt they’ve seen this Facebook page. I can only speak for myself as a distant cousin but nothing about this story will embarrass or hurt me as I wasn’t living then and had nothing to do with it. I find it fascinating as I do all sordid family history. I never knew any details of why his daughters killed him but there was speculation of abuse within our family.

  3. Barbara Sue Jenkins says:

    I love reading your stories ! I live in Logan co . I am from Barren Co . when I am reading , I can see those place and know where they are . so just keep writing .Sue Jenkins

    • Gclee says:

      Thank you for that. There is no method to the madness. Most of what I do now is by request if I can find anything researching. I have some bigger subjects, but not enough info just yet. Stay tuned…

Leave a Reply to Janet Steenbergen Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s