Callie Thornton


Tucson Citizen

Tyler Payne's stepgrandfather wants Christopher M. Payne to tell authorities where the 5-year-old boy is.

Christopher Payne is the father of Tyler and Ariana Payne. Police believe Ariana, 4, is the girl found dead in a plastic tub in a storage locker Feb. 18. No one knows where Tyler is.

Christopher Payne is in the Pima County Jail on charges that include first-degree murder in the death of Ariana. Police are awaiting DNA test results to confirm the badly decomposed body they found is her's.

Tyler and Ariana's stepgrandfather, Richard Barcalow, said Tuesday he heard Payne may have sold his 5-year-old grandson.

"I hope he did sell him. At least he'd be alive," said Barcalow, stepfather of the children's mother, Jamie Marie Hallam. Police said she is not a suspect in the death of Ariana.

Police have been searching for Tyler since arresting Payne Thursday.

"It just hurts so much to have them killed or missing. You don't know what happened," Barcalow said. "If he didn't want them, why didn't he give them back to us?"

Tucson Police Detective Capt. Bill Richards, in a statement released through TPD spokesman Dallas Wilson, said Tuesday:

"We reiterate: We suspect the boy is a victim of foul play but until he is found, we are keeping all doors open."

Barcalow said he's been told Payne knew someone who also was renting a storage locker at the U-Store-It, 519 E. Prince Road, where the body police believe is Ariana's was found.

Police have yet to release the cause of death or name who rented the locker, saying only that Payne was connected to the rental in some way.

Barcalow's neighbor, Norma Wyllie, speculated that Payne may have killed Ariana because he did not want to pay child support.

On Jan. 29, a Pima County Superior Court Judge ordered Christopher Payne to pay Hallam back child support he owed her.

Barcalow, who lives in Catalina about 15 miles north of Tucson, said he raised Hallam from the age of 3, when he married her mother, Linda, in New Jersey. They have since divorced. Linda remarried and lives in New Jersey, he said.

He said Hallam came to Tucson to stay with him after bearing a son in New Jersey. The boy, now "8 or 9," lives with his father in New Jersey and shares joint custody with Hallam, Barcalow said.

Hallam has a fourth child, he said.

She gave birth to a girl in October who was born with methamphetamine in her system, according to state records viewed by the Tucson Citizen. Hallam did not test positive for drugs at the time of the birth, the records show.

The baby was taken by Child Protective Services at the hospital and placed in foster care, the records show.

A week later, the infant was given to Hallam and her male companion. CPS workers were to follow up with home visits to make sure the home environment was appropriate for a newborn and that Hallam was on medication. She had been diagnosed with postpartum depression.

The documents indicate Hallam was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the same time and told by the state to get medical care for this mental illness at CODAC, a publicly funded behavioral health care provider, and at Catalina Community Services in Catalina.

Barcalow said he did not know whether she got any medical care for bipolar disorder following the infant's birth.

He said that a few weeks ago she called him in the middle of the night after her companion "smashed in a door with a sledge hammer." The incident was not reported to authorities, he said, and Hallam and her baby continued to live with the man, who is believed to be the baby's father.

Barcalow said the last time he saw Payne was several months ago. Payne, who was well dressed and polite, had come to pick up his children for a weekend visit.

That was the last time he saw Tyler and Ariana alive.

Barcalow said police will not tell him how Ariana was killed.

"I hope it was quick," he said. "She's an adorable little girl."

He said Hallam began living in the Tucson area full time in 2000, when she came to live with him in Catalina.

"She met Chris (Payne). He helped her work on the trailer I got her," he said.

At one point, the couple were living in an apartment in Tucson. One night, Hallam called Barcalow to move her out of the apartment because she said Payne had beat her, Barcalow said.

He said he moved her and her furniture to his home.

Hallam and Payne divorced in 2003. She was granted sole custody of Tyler and Ariana, but he was allowed to take the children on weekends.

Hallam eventually got involved with another man, Barcalow said, this one at least 20 years her senior. Barcalow said that man has been abusive to Hallam but she wants to stay with him.

Barcalow said he never saw signs that Hallam had bipolar disorder as she was growing up in New Jersey.

He said he misses Ariana and Tyler, who called him "Pop-pop" and jumped into his arms or onto his lap as soon as they came into his house.

Their favorite television show to watch together was "Cops," he said. All of them enjoyed singing the "Bad Boys" theme song together.

Barcalow said he tried to provide a safe environment for Ariana, Tyler and Hallam but he said his stepdaughter didn't like his rules.

"No alcohol, no drinking. No drugs," he said. "I'm against that kind of stuff."

Hallam left his home and "got back to the same (bad environment)", he said.

Still, she would call him for help.

"Every time she gets hurt, she calls me to come and get her," Barcalow said.

He said she has never worked, except for about a month as a secretary and gets by on monthly government-funded assistance.

The children enjoyed sleepovers with Barcalow's neighbor Wyllie, whose 5-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter were close friends of the youngsters.

"We've been saying prayers every night," she said. "It's hard enough for an adult to cope, let alone another child who is innocent and doesn't know there are bad people."

She said her son, whose name is being withheld to protect his privacy, prays: "Please dear God, bring them home and we'll feed them the right food."

Liz Barker, a spokeswoman for Arizona Child Protective Services, issued a statement Tuesday afternoon regarding its involvement with Christopher Payne. It did not comment on the more recent CPS case involving Hallam's newest child.

"Prior to his arrest, CPS had received no reports alleging that Christopher Payne had abused or neglected his children," the statement read. "We had received reports that the children had been neglected by another individual and our investigation of those allegations included contact with Mr. Payne."

Barker did not name the "individual."

She said CPS did not place the children with Payne but that they were "placed" with him by another family member.

That contradicts the account of Barcalow, who said the children were not returned to Hallam after a scheduled weekend visit.

Barker's statement said the children were placed with Payne by "another family member and our investigation revealed no information that the children were at risk of harm with him."

She did not identify that person.

Barker said that a year ago, TPD and CPS investigated concerns about the children's safety but neither agency "had information at the time that indicated the children would not be safe with Mr. Payne."

Hallam is believed to be in the Tucson area. The Tucson Citizen left a message for her and she has not responded.

Court records show Hallam and Payne had a tumultuous relationship.

Christopher Payne's arrest record dates back to 1994, with most of his arrests involving drug and alcohol violations. Most of the charges were either dismissed or resulted in a brief time in jail with the charges later dismissed after he completed probation.

He and his ex-wife accused each other in civil court records of drug use, but online court records show Hallam has no drug arrest record.

Neither has served prison time in Arizona, according to the Arizona Department of Corrections Web site.

Payne and Hallam married in Tucson on Jan. 25, 2002. By June 16, 2003, the couple had divorced, court records show. In the divorce filing, Payne accused Hallam of using methamphetamine and leaving their "kids with different people."

She accused him of using alcohol and drugs and creating a "violent environment."

In December, Hallam got an order of protection against Payne granted by Judge Pro Tem Karen Adam in Superior Court.

In seeking the order of protection, she asked the judge to include her children, citing "fear of endangering them or kidnapping them," the record shows.

Police say the children were with Payne when they disappeared. No missing-child reports have been filed in the disappearance of the children.

Payne has a third child, a son born in 2004 to another woman.
Police wait on DNA test to confirm girl's ID 
"The child is healthy," said TPD spokesman Sgt. Decio Hopffer. He wouldn't say where the child was.

Police urge anyone with information about Tyler or Ariana to call 88-CRIME or the special tip line at 791-4499 Ext. 1238.

Citizen Staff Writer Ryn Gargulinski contributed to this article.

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