New tips sought in unsolved murder of teen in Johnson County home nearly 46 years ago

  • In US
  • 2023-02-06 14:28:02Z
  • By Kansas City Star

Police are seeking new tips in the unsolved murder of Anthony "Tony" Payne, who was found critically injured nearly 46 years ago in the basement of an Overland Park home, according to a news release from police Friday.

Police reopened the cold case in 2021 in the hopes that new investigative leads and advances in forensic and DNA technologies would help them solve the July 2, 1977, homicide of the 19-year-old man.

With the permission of Payne's family, police, along with members of the Johnson County district attorney's and medical examiner's offices as well as crime scene investigators, went to Mount Olivet Cemetery in Raytown on Thursday and reexamined his remains , said Officer John Lacy, a spokesman for the Overland Park Police Department.

"We were hoping that examination of his remains would provide us with new evidence for the case," said Officer John Lacy, a spokesman for the Overland Park Police Department.

They were looking for cues or anything that they might have been missed in the initial investigation. However, they were not able to recover anything new of value that would aid them in the in the investigation, Lacy said.

"We're still hoping that if anybody has any information regarding this homicide they will come forward," he said.

Anonymous caller tips off police

Early on the day of Payne's killing, an anonymous caller told police that a person had been severely injured and needed help inside a blue house near West 87th Street and Lowell Avenue, Lacy said.

Responding officers found Payne unconscious on his bed inside a home in the 7900 block of West 87th Street. Payne, who was renting a small living area in the basement from a friend's parents, was rushed to a hospital but he died later that day of head injuries.

Autopsy results showed at the time he died from at least two blows to the head. Police believe he was attacked and beaten between 2 and 3:45 a.m.

Police tried to identify the caller who tipped them off, but the man had refused to give his name. He asked that an ambulance be sent because a man had been beaten. The caller refused to tell police how he knew about the beating, just that he had seen a man through the basement window of the house, according to stories in The Kansas City Times.

Police also interviewed dozens of persons, including those who had been with Payne the night before the killing. Two young men visiting Payne left him alone about 2 a.m. He was alive and uninjured when they left, according to stories in The Times.

Police learned that the basement was a common gathering place and his friends regularly entered the living space through an unlocked door in the garage, according to news coverage at the time.

The initial investigation, however, was not able to solve his murder. Then in 2021, police reopened the case.

They reached out the family in 2022 to see if they could get permission to examine Payne's remains to see if they could come up with a possible suspect. After going through "a lot of red tape" and waiting for favorable weather conditions, they got their opportunity to reexamine his remains last week at the cemetery, Lacy said.

Detectives are now asking for people to come forward with new tips. Anyone with information is asked to contact the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477). A reward of up to $2,000 is available for information leading to an arrest.


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