Nichole Payne Murder: How Did Nichole Payne Die? Who Killed Nichole Payne? – The NBC Dateline episode “House of Horrors,” which will air on Saturday, September 17, 2022, is set to revisit the murders of Nichole Payne and Austin Wages’ parents.
Austin Wages, 16, and Nichole Payne, 35, were shot inside their Quitman, Texas, home in December 2007. Jason Payne, Austin’s stepfather and Nichole’s husband, called the police after coming home with his daughter Riley. When the police came, they discovered Austin’s body in the garage-turned-bedroom and Nichole’s body in her bedroom.
The subject of NBC News’ “Dateline: House of Horrors” is how the police identified the actual offender and what transpired next. If you want to learn more about Nichole Payne’s murder and her killer, keep reading below.
Why Did Nichole Payne Pass Away?
In the early hours of December 11, 2007, Jason Payne in Quitman, Texas, called 911 after discovering the bodies of his wife and stepson there. Jason claimed to have dropped off his son Joseph at kindergarten and returned with his daughter Riley.
When the police came, they discovered Nichole’s body in a lower bedroom. Later, according to court records, Austin was discovered in the garage with a wound “on the mouth, kind of to the side” of his face. He was found to have a gun hidden between his legs.
The autopsy results determined Nichole’s death to be a homicide, while Austin’s death was still under investigation and was classified as a suicide. The assertion was supported by Jason’s comments on Austin’s aggressive actions the morning of the event.
However, the conclusions of the autopsy reports and the investigators’ accounts altered the course of the case. According to the results of Jason’s questioning, Austin was “sort of yelling” on the morning of December 11, 2007, over not being permitted to have a cell phone. Payne mentioned that even though he was meant to drop Austin and Joseph off at school, Austin didn’t show up, so he had to leave with Joseph and Riley instead.
Jason claimed to have returned and found the victims, but he did not check to see if they were alive or touched the corpses. However, when he called 911, he reported that his wife and son had been shot. Since Jason claimed not to have touched the bodies, the detectives questioned how he could be so sure that they had been shot.
The detectives also observed a discrepancy between the proposed times of Nichole and Austin’s deaths and the alleged story of who killed whom. According to the court papers, Nichole died after Austin because Austin’s body was cold and stiff while Nichole’s was warm.
The romance between Nichole and Jason came to the forefront during the investigation. Jason claimed that the pair had “just little arguments here and there.” But according to Nichole’s friend and former partner, Jason was antagonistic, domineering, and hostile towards both Nichole and Austin.
As a result of Jason’s conduct, Nichole had been corresponding with her friends from her closet and automobile. She had also expressed her desire for a divorce with Jason to a friend.
Who Killed Nichole Payne and Why?
At first glance, it appeared like Austin had killed his mother before shooting himself in the head. But as the authorities looked more, they sensed a problem. Nichole was discovered with a strong gunpowder odour, but there was no sign of it in the garage. Austin appeared to have been dead for some time, but Nichole was warm to the touch. Austin’s cause of death was given as unknown at the time.
Jason claimed to have awoken at around 7 a.m. that morning to drive Joseph and Austin to their respective schools. Then, as Austin was still getting in, he was in the car with Riley and Joseph. Jason claimed that after waiting for the teen to emerge, he left and returned home with Riley at about 8:15 am. Jason claimed to have gone inside the home to notify Nichole about Riley’s desire to go to the park when he really found her deceased.
Further suspicion was raised when the investigators discovered a $100,000 insurance policy in Nichole’s name with Jason listed as the beneficiary. Austin also didn’t exhibit any signs that he had considered murdering his mother or himself. According to a thorough examination of their financial situation, the family’s cash resources were poor, which opened the door for a potential financial motivation for Jason. The police believed that the crime scene was fabricated as a result. There was proof in favour of that.
The absence of fingerprints on the gun suggests that it was perhaps cleaned before being discovered by the police. Jason’s car included a washcloth that was covered in Nichole’s blood and bullet debris. Investigators concluded that Jason both cleaned the gun and himself of blood. An expert who testified at Austin’s trial stated that the gun was about 10 to 12 inches away when Austin was wounded, and given the long barrel, a self-inflicted wound was doubtful. Additionally, a blood spatter specialist affirmed that Austin did not hold the barrel when the spatter appeared on his hand.
Nichole’s family members’ testimony portrayed a gloomy picture of her relationship with Jason. According to an ex-boyfriend, Nichole informed him she was dissatisfied with her situation and wanted to leave in August 2007. Andrea Scott, a friend, testified that Jason frequently asked Riley to tell Nichole she hated her and to hurt her mother. Another of Nichole’s friends, Jennifer Morton, allegedly overheard the 35-year-old discussing her desire to separate from Jason.
Riley revealed in a therapy session that she had witnessed her father shooting her mother and sibling, which is another distressing development. Jason was therefore found guilty of the killings. He was convicted of the crimes in 2010 and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. However, the conviction was reversed in 2013. Jason, though, was given the same punishment in March 2016, and he will remain behind bars till the end of his natural life.
On September 17, 2022, Dateline NBC will carry a segment about the House of Horrors.