Senseless in Southern Indiana: Stacy Payne & Lori Bullock
Stacy Payne was born February 24th, 1986, and raised in Dale, Indiana. She lived with her parents and siblings, a brother and sister, in the small Southern Indiana community. Stacy was a happy teenager with an infectious smile. She was on the honor roll, in the band, student council, and a cheerleader. She had won several awards for her efforts in speech competitions. Her parents had a lot to be proud of and Stacy had a very bright future.
On July 11th, 2001, the unthinkable happened. A man entered the Payne house and attacked fifteen-year-old Stacy Payne (right). She was sexually assaulted and savagely beaten with a five-pound weight. Stacy began to scream and her fourteen-year-old sister, on another level in the home, called 911 to report someone was attacking her sister. The man then cut Stacy’s throat, severing her trachea. Stacy could no longer scream for help, but unbeknownst to her attacker, help was already on the way.
While police were enroute to the Payne household, the man continued his brutal attack by stabbing Stacy several times and cutting open her abdomen to expose her intestines. Her sister, terrified beyond comprehension, hid in an upstairs closet waiting for help to arrive. When authorities arrived, they were able to easily capture the man as he was running from the Payne home. The murderer was a man named Roy Ward.
Stacy was transferred emergently to a local hospital and then the University of Louisville Hospital in Kentucky. Despite all the courageous efforts of first responders and healthcare workers, Stacy Payne was pronounced dead on July 11th, 2001, at the hospital in Kentucky.
Roy Ward (left) had a history of criminal offenses and had spent time in prison. At age nineteen he started racking up convictions for theft, forgery, and possession of stolen property. He also had convictions for possession of controlled substances. Later, he would have multiple convictions for indecent exposure. At the time of the attack on Stacy Payne, Ward was on probation in Missouri for a burglary charge.
The defense requested a change of venue for the trial as the Spencer County news coverage was thought to have tainted jury, but this request was denied. Given the overwhelming evidence and the fact that Roy Ward was caught exiting the home, it was not surprising that he was found guilty of first-degree murder and sexual assault. Roy Ward was sentenced to death.
In 2004, Roy Ward’s conviction and sentence was overturned on appeal on the grounds that a change of venue should have been granted on the original trial. The family of Stacy Payne was devastated by the decision and horrified that they would have to relive the horror of July 11th, 2001, all over again. Prior to the new trial, the defense requested DNA evidence be retested because Ward claimed he never sexually assaulted Stacy.
Despite the defense’s insistence that Ward did not sexually assault Stacy, her DNA was found on his penis and his DNA was indeed found inside of her. Given this finding, the defense agreed to enter a plea of guilty to the murder and rape but requested that a jury determine sentencing. Ward never expressed any emotion throughout the proceedings. His defense attorney said it’s because Ward has “no conscience, no empathy, no feelings” (Samson, 2007). The defense felt this was proof that Ward “couldn’t help it, he was born this way” (Samson, 2007) and therefore should be spared the death penalty. In 2007, Roy Ward was once again sentenced to die for his crimes. Ward is currently forty-nine and sitting on death row at Indiana State Prison.
Lori Bullock was born January 31st, 1963. In 1985, the twenty-two-year-old was living in Evansville, Indiana with her roommates and her sister Chris. Lori was working as a manicurist and attending beauty school in Evansville. On December 28th, 1985, Lori and her sister went shopping at the Eastland Mall. Her sister recalled Lori counting her money as they returned home and that she had approximately $200. Lori loaned her sister her car that evening but decided to stay home as she had to work the next morning.
When her roommates returned to the apartment on December 29th around 3 am, they found a grisly scene. The apartment appeared to have been ransacked and a door was wide open. In the back bedroom they found Lori lying nude on a bed with a butcher knife sticking out of her neck. Lori Bullock (left) was dead.
Police responded quickly and secured the scene. Lori had been stabbed over two dozen times and died from blood loss. There were stab wounds to her genital area and was found nude, so a sexual motive was strongly suggested. The crime scene investigators found several articles of evidence including articles of clothing, a towel, food items, and a package of Kool cigarettes. Additionally, the roommates reported several items including jewelry were missing from the apartment.
Police canvassed the neighborhood and apartment complex looking for clues. They spoke to a neighbor who told them a man had knocked on her door that night and was acting strange. When she answered the door, he leaned in the doorway and asked her if she was having a party. She quickly closed the door on him and told her guests that “Norman Bates’ brother is outside the door” (Canaan V. State, 1989) referring to the man who was acting fidgety and creeping her out. He knocked again and this time someone else opened the door. The man tried to sell them a bicycle for $30, but they refused to buy it. The neighbors said the man then went to another apartment and started knocking on the door. This was approximately 10:45 pm.
Police learned Lori’s boyfriend had visited her that night. He claimed he left Lori’s apartment at 8:45 pm. He said he called her at 11 pm, but she did not respond. Lori’s roommate called her a 9 pm and Lori had answered at that time. Lori’s family couldn’t understand who would hurt her. Her father said “There is just no sense in it at all. She was just a little girl. She wouldn’t hurt anybody” (Clark, 1985).
Investigators quickly identified the man who had knocked on the neighbor’s door that night. It was Keith Canaan. Keith had a history of criminal activity. Keith had previously been in prison and was paroled November 22nd, just over a month before the murder. He was in prison following an escape charge. He and four other inmates sawed their way out of their cell and overpowered a jailer. He had been in jail on parole violations as well as theft and burglary charges at the time of the escape. Now he was wanted for suspicion of murder.
Keith Canaan (right) was arrested two days after the murder while hitchhiking. He had a duffel bag with him that contained clothing, a comb, a pack of Kool cigarettes, money, a billfold, and a watch (Canaan V. State, 1989). Police retraced Keith’s steps the night of the murder and found that he was with his brother with whom he lived. He and his brother her drinking at Chi Chi’s restaurant until his brother left about 10 pm. His brother states Keith only had about $5 on him. Witnesses said Keith was outside the restaurant trying to sell his bicycle that night.
The next confirmed sighting of Keith that night was at 12:45 am at another restaurant. Another witness said later that he and Keith went to the Silver Dollar bar. After leaving the bar, the witness gave Keith a ride. Keith offered the man gas money and counted out his money, totaling at least $100 per the witness. At 4 am, another witness claimed Keith was a patron at the restaurant she worked at. She said that Keith asked her how to get blood out of clothing.
Another witness testified that on December 29th, 1985, Keith and his brother were acting strangely and whispering. He said Keith told his brother to get rid of some clothing and that he said, “I’ve got to get out of here” (Canaan V. State, 1989). Keith’s brother told authorities that his brother told him he had killed a biker outside the Silver Dollar bar that night. However, no one had been killed at the bar or anywhere else in the area other than Lori Bullock.
Keith Canaan went to trial for the first-degree murder of Lori Bullock in 1986. His charges included first-degree murder, burglary, attempted deviant behavior, and being a habitual offender. The state announced they would seek the death penalty. The evidence included the identification by neighbors that put Keith Canaan in the apartment building around the time of the murder, a package of Kool cigarettes found at the scene containing saliva, clothing of Keith’s with blood on them, and a fingerprint matching Keith’s found on a package of spaghetti in Lori’s apartment. Additionally, a man matching Keith’s description pawned jewelry belonging to Lori’s roommates shortly after the murder.
The state presented the theory that Keith Canaan had been living with his brother and his wife since being released from prison. His brother’s wife apparently was frustrated with Keith’s “free-loading” and wanted him to contribute to the household. According to the prosecution, Keith was attempting to burglarize the house and stole groceries to get his sister-in-law off his back. According to the prosecution’s theory, Keith did not know Lori was home and when she interrupted the burglary, he killed her. The saliva on the cigarette package at the scene was consistent with Keith Canaan as they were both secretors. Blood stains on Keith’s pants matched the blood type of Lori Bullock. DNA testing was not yet available.
The defense claimed that no evidence directly linked Keith Canaan to the crime and the prosecution could not prove he killed Lori Bullock. Keith Canaan had previously been in Lori’s apartment 1-2 weeks prior to the murder visiting one of her roommates. According to the roommates, he had not touched anything in the kitchen however, so this did not explain the fingerprints on the spaghetti package. The defense claimed that while Keith was at the apartment complex, he was not the murderer. Keith Canaan declined to take the stand in his own defense.
During the first trial, a pair of shorts were described as “prison issued”, leading to a mistrial on grounds that Canaan’s criminal history was not admissible in the trial as it was unrelated to the crime. The judge felt the comment, by a police officer, suggested a prior criminal history and tainted the jury. However, he was quickly retried and found guilty on all counts in November 1986. Keith Canaan was sentenced to death.
The after affects of this murder devastated Lori’s family. According to an editorial by Pat Rocca on behalf of Lori’s family in The Herald, “A beautiful young girl is dead. Her father ultimately committed suicide. And on the eighth anniversary of her death, her grandpa was laid to rest” (Rocca, 1994). According to the editorial, Lori’s grandfather was high functioning with Alzheimer’s Disease at the time of the murder, but rapidly declined following the murder. “The doctor told mother that the trauma of the murder had accelerated the Alzheimer’s to the point that his mind could not accept it” (Rocca, 1994).
Keith Canaan sat on death row for nearly twenty years while going through the appeals process. In 2003, an appellate court overturned Keith’s death sentence on grounds that he was not properly advised of his right to testify at his sentencing hearing. His conviction still stood, but he would have to be resentenced. In 2005, Canaan accepted a deal with prosecutors in which he would serve 160 years in prison instead of receiving the death penalty: 60 years for murder, 30 years for being a habitual offender, 20 years for burglary, and 50 years for attempted criminal deviant conduct. He will not be eligible for parole until after his 100th birthday.
Lori Bullock and Stacy Payne were both slain in Southern Indiana in senseless murders that still do not make any sense. Two young women died at the hands of two men who can only be described as evil. These cases truly are senseless and evil. The murderers both remain behind bars at this time and will hopefully never be able to hurt anyone again.
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