No word from hit-run car's owner

August 7, 2008 8:38:07 PM PDT
Lemuel Payne Jr. is all lawyered up and refusing to talk to police about the case. But he has got to be feeling the heat with friends and others already providing information that has been very helpful to authorities. We have an exclusive interview with Payne's father. Dann: "What has he told you about it?" Lemuel Payne, Sr.: "He hasn't told me much, but when I find out something, you'll find out something."

Lemuel Payne, Sr. is a father terribly troubled by the mess his 26 year old son finds himself in.

"My heart is ripped right now cause I didn't raise my son like that and my son is, is a man. And--you know--things happen all over America, and I didn't raise my son to be like that."

Lemuel Payne Jr. who has a history of DUI and reckless driving citations, has been identified as the owner of this black Mercedes found hidden in a garage behind a house on State Street in Upper Darby. Damage on the car is consistent with evidence found at Chester Pike and Laurel in Sharon Hill where 16-year old Faith Sinclair was killed by a hit and run driver. The question is, who was driving the car? As the owner Lemuel Payne Jr. has been identified by authorities as a person of interest.

"We'd love to talk to him but I don't know that that's gonna happen or not," said Sharon Hill police chief Bob Tinsley.

Payne's lawyer Mark Much has advised him not to talk and for the time being law enforcement finds itself in a pickle. Defense lawyer Fortunato Perri, Jr. is a former prosecutor.

"Law enforcement is now faced with the predicament of continuing their investigation, trying to find other evidence to prove where the owner of the vehicle may have been at the time of the accident."

Cell phone records and other evidence may prove helpful. So may his friends and others. Tipsters led police to the garage where the car was found. Police say he blacked-out the garage door windows and was allegedly planning to chop up the car.

"You have to be careful sometimes as a defense attorney, you have to look at the overall situation," said Perri. "And you see that ultimately they're gonna get from point-a to point-b and the evidence is gonna be overwhelming against your client, you may want to use this time now to accept responsibility for what you've done."

As for Lemuel Payne, Jr.'s father?

Dann: "Do you think he should turn himself in and be questioned?" Lemuel Payne, Sr.: "I think he should if he thought he didn't do nothing, you know I think he should."

Tips started coming in after the Citizens Crime Commission announced a $10,000 reward in the case. According to one law enforcement source: sooner or later, somebody is going to want to cash in.

Click here to get the latest Philadelphia news and headlines from across the Delaware and Lehigh valleys.


Load Comments