Deaths of Ridgeway couple ruled murder-suicide

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 September 2020 at 9:47 pm

RIDGEWAY – The deaths of a married couple in Ridgeway have been determined to be a murder-suicide, Orleans County Sheriff Chris Bourke said today.

James Payne, 60, and his wife, Shari, 56, were discovered Thursday morning at their North Gravel Road home by their son, when he came home from work.

Mr. Payne had stabbed his wife in the chest and then shot her in the abdomen with an AK-47, Bourke said. Payne then shot himself in the chest, the sheriff said.

“It is a tragedy all the way around,” Bourke said. “The family is in disbelief.”

The Sheriff’s Office initially reported the deaths on Thursday from “apparent unnatural causes.” The Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office completed the autopsies and confirmed the cause of deaths from a stabbing and gunshot wound for Mrs. Payne and a gunshot wound for Mr. Payne.

Bourke said the family didn’t observe any issues with the couple, who had been married about 40 years.

The son each morning would visit his parents when he came home from work. The door was always unlocked when he stopped to see them except for last Thursday. He entered the house through a window and discovered his parents who were deceased.

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