The Richmond Register

January 22, 2012

Murder suspect pleads not guilty to escape

By Lorie Love Hailey
Register Editor

RICHMOND — A Richmond man accused of murdering his mother and girlfriend was arraigned Thursday in Madison Circuit Court for attempting to escape from jail.

John Edward Payne, 38, pleaded not guilty to second-degree escape and first-degree persistent felony offender. His case was transferred to Division II, where the murder charges against him are being heard, according to court officials.

Payne allegedly attempted to escape Oct. 22 from the Madison County Detention Center while jail personnel were taking out the garbage, according to Jailer Doug Thomas.

“We were in the process of taking out trash out and he made it outside of that area and was captured in a matter of seconds,” Thomas said at the time of the incident.

Payne had managed to make his cell door appear to be shut and it registered as being secure on the detention center’s control panel, which was in the process of being updated, Thomas said.

Payne was arrested in December 2010 for the death of his mother, Cornelia Gayle Mullins, and his girlfriend, Meredith King. He is charged with two counts of murder, two counts of tampering with physical evidence, theft by unlawful taking and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

The bodies of King, 32, and Mullins, 55, were found Dec. 4, 2010, in the home they shared with Payne. The women were found in separate rooms of the house, both dead from gunshot wounds, according to police.

A trial was scheduled for Dec. 5, but it was delayed so that Payne’s competency evaluation could be completed.

Lorie Love Hailey can be reached at or 624-6690.