Stepfather Convicted in West Peoria Double Homicide: Child Heroically Dies Protecting Mother

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West Peoria, IL – A profound sense of justice permeates West Peoria today following the conviction of Rickey Payne for the first-degree murder of his wife, Quardreka Payne, and stepson, 8-year-old Cael Thorton. The case, which took place in their West Peoria residence in September 2022, initially faced hurdles due to Payne’s misleading statements during the investigation.

According to the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office, the successful resolution of the case was a result of the unwavering commitment of the investigative team, including detectives, crime scene investigators, patrol deputies, and a dedicated victim advocate. Sheriff Chris Watkins, in a deeply moving statement, condemned the brutal nature of the crime, particularly highlighting the tragic death of young Cael, who was killed while courageously attempting to defend his mother.

This incident, unfortunately, is not isolated, but part of a series of domestic violence-related murders in the area, bringing to light the escalating problem of domestic violence in the community. The Sheriff’s Office detailed Rickey Payne’s criminal background, noting his prior arrests in various states but no previous charges in Peoria County.

As the community and law enforcement mourn this devastating loss, Sheriff Watkins has extended his heartfelt condolences to the victims’ family, friends, and all who have been affected by this tragedy. The case not only reflects the profound impact of domestic violence but also honors the brave actions of a young boy who selflessly tried to protect his mother.

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