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Posted on: February 7, 2024

Man Found Guilty of Murdering Wife and 8-Year-Old Son

February 7, 2024, Peoria, IL – Today, Rickey J. Payne, 35, was found guilty during a three-day jury trial for murdering his wife, Quardreka Payne, and his 8-year-old stepson, Cael Thornton. It took the jury about two and a half hours to find him guilty on both counts. 


In the early morning hours of September 29, 2022, the couple was arguing when it turned violent.  Payne hit Quardreka in the face with an object multiple times, fracturing bones in her face.  He then shot her three times.  Two of those shots were to her face & neck.  At trial, those first on scene described a trail of blood throughout the house, and a forensic pathologist testified that Quardreka had “aspirated blood” in her lungs, meaning she was still alive and breathing after she was shot.


During the entire altercation, there were three young children upstairs: Payne’s 8-year-old stepson, Cael, and Payne’s 15-month-old twins. After shooting Quardreka, Payne went upstairs and shot Cael twice in the head while Cael was lying on his blanket.  Payne’s twins, who were in the same room, were not hurt.  Payne then staged the shooting to look like a break-in, stashed the gun, and called 911.


The case is set for sentencing on April 10. Because Payne killed two people, it is an automatic sentence of Natural Life in prison.



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