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Monday, February 23, 2009

NY- Suspected molester shot; friend charged

See court appeal also:

4-30-1998 New York:

SHELTER ISLAND (AP) -- A man accused of sexually molesting an 8-year-old girl on this quiet resort island was blasted to death with a shotgun at his home, allegedly by a neighbor who's known him for 20 years.

Kenneth Payne was being held without bail after pleading innocent to a murder charge in the death of neighbor Curtis Cook.

Cook, 42, had been arrested last month on charges he sexually abused an 8-year-old girl, and was free on bail, police said Tuesday.

Payne initially believed Cook was wrongly accused, but changed his mind, police said.

Payne also may have believed Cook attacked his 10-year-old daughter, a playmate of the 8-year-old, although Cook was not charged with molesting Payne's daughter, the Daily News said.

On Monday, apparently bothered by a message on Cook's answering machine boasting that he would beat the charge, Payne got his 12-gauge shotgun and went to Cook's house, police said at a news conference.

Then he went home and called friends to tell them of the shooting. When officers arrived, summoned by calls from the friends, they found five rifles and shotguns lying outside Payne's trailer. It took about an hour to coax Payne out, said Sgt. James Read, chief of the island's small police force.

Police said Payne confessed, telling officers: "I shot him once. I believe I shot him just below the heart."

Payne also allegedly called the mother of the 8-year-old and told her she didn't have to worry about Curtis anymore.

He was "motivated by anger," Suffolk County prosecutor Janet Albertson said. "He has his own children."

It was believed to be the first killing on Shelter Island since the tiny island at the east end of Long Island was settled in 1652, the News said. It has a year-round population of about 3,000 but swells to 20,000 during the summer. ..Source.. by

Man Is Held in Killing of His Friend After a Girl's Sex Abuse

4-29-1998 New York:

Kenneth Payne and Curtis Cook had been friends for more than 20 years, sharing the bleak winters when the population here shrinks and the Northeasters' cold rain and mists sweep in for days at a time.

Indeed, two years ago, when Mr. Cook was despondent over the death of his wife, Mr. Payne talked him out of committing suicide.

But Monday night, furious because he believed that Mr. Cook had molested an 8-year-old girl, the police said, Mr. Payne stalked the few dozen yards to his neighbor's house and fired a shotgun into Mr. Cook's chest just below the heart, killing him instantly.

It was the first recorded homicide in the 300-year history of this quaint, peaceful settlement, stunning the year-round population of 3,000, where virtually everybody knows everybody else.

''Everybody's talking about it,'' said Kenneth A. Rose, a captain on the North Ferry that plies Peconic Bay between here and Greenport. ''They mainly agree with the guy who shot him. I don't like child molesters, for one thing, but he took the law upon himself. You can't do that anymore, unfortunately.''

Three weeks ago, Mr. Cook, 44, was arrested on charges of sodomy and sexual abuse of the 8-year-old. Mr. Payne, 42, apparently believed his old friend's protestations of innocence at first, the police said. But when he returned to his battered white trailer home on Monday night there was a recorded message on his answering machine from Mr. Cook that changed Mr. Payne's mind.

''He was despondent and agitated over what he heard,'' Sgt. James J. Read of the Shelter Island Police told a news conference, without divulging any further details, ''and took this action as a result.''

When the police responded to a 911 call, they found Mr. Cook's body, with a single gunshot wound, behind the door of his tiny wood-frame house. They said they found Mr. Payne in his trailer, the shotgun and several other weapons neatly stacked outside, still making a series of phone calls telling people he had killed Mr. Cook.

''He called that little girl's mother and told her: 'You don't have to worry. He won't do this to your little girl again,' '' said a neighbor who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Most of the workers mowing lawns and painting white fences today in preparation for the summer, when the island's population quadruples, knew the two men, who got by on odd jobs and lived alone in scrubby rentals behind a gas station.

It is the slow pace on this 12-square-mile island, which lies midway between the North and South Forks of Long Island and can only be reached by boat, that the summer people treasure, particularly compared with the Hamptons. Quakers settled here in the mid-1600's, fleeing persecution in the Massachusetts Bay colony, where they had been imprisoned and tortured.

The island's gentle tone, amid the Victorian beachfront houses and hotels and the marshes and ponds where once-endangered osprey nest, made the crime seem even more Gothic.

Detective Lieut. John Gierasch, the commander of the Suffolk County police homicide squad, said the first word of the shooting came in a call about 9:45 P.M. Monday from one of the people Mr. Payne had called.

The police said Mr. Payne had given oral, written and videotaped statements to investigators describing the message Mr. Cook left on his answering machine and the shooting.

Lieutenant Gierasch said Mr. Payne got his shotgun, walked the short distance to Mr. Cook's front door and ''after a limited exchange of words, raised the gun and fired one shot.'' Mr. Payne then returned to his trailer and ''made some telephone calls admitting he had just shot Mr. Cook,'' the detective added.

Mr. Cook had been released from jail after putting up $100,000 cash bond, and the sex-abuse charges against him were pending. Sergeant Read said the girl was not related to either man, but declined to discuss the case further, saying, ''We're a small, close-knit community and we have an 8-year-old victim we want to protect.''

Both men had previous police records, Sergeant Read said. Mr. Payne had been involved in a dispute with a summer resident last year, and the man obtained a court order of protection against him. Mr. Cook was charged in the late 1980's with abusing a young boy, but physically, not sexually. It was not clear who the boy was, and Sergeant Read said he did not know the disposition of the case.

Neighbors said the two friends each lived alone and worked at odd jobs. Mr. Payne, who grew up on the island and has relatives here, was separated or divorced from his wife, Sergeant Read said. Mr. Cook had sometimes worked as a handyman at the Pridwin Hotel and the Sunset Beach Hotel.

Vincent P. Geraghty, who rented Mr. Payne the trailer and Mr. Cook the house down a dirt driveway behind the Northville gas station at 35 South Ferry Road, said they sometimes worked together, clearing brush and debris and cutting firewood.

''They were friends, they worked together,'' Mr. Geraghty said.

The gas station operator, Rizzo G. Assoud, 32, said: ''They were nice quiet guys. They lived back there and that's all I know. They came here for gas.''

Mr. Payne was arraigned this afternoon before Shelter Island's judge, Justice Edward J. Hannabury, on a charge of second degree murder. No bail was set. Mr. Payne was sent to the Suffolk County Jail in Riverhead. Janet Albertson, an assistant Suffolk County District attorney, said the state would not seek the death penalty. If convicted, Mr. Payne could be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

Sharon Kast, a councilwoman on the Shelter Island Town Board, spoke of the stunning impact of the crime among the permanent residents of this quiet place, where nearly a third of the land is a nature preserve, and where many make a hard living as baymen dragging for clams and scallops in surrounding waters.

''The people in the town are in a state of shock because there has never been a homicide on Shelter Island,'' she said. ''This doesn't happen on Shelter Island.'' ..Source.. by JOHN T. MCQUISTON WITH JOHN KIFNER

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