This is the story of a small Indiana town, three murders, and the trial that followed; it is a story that ends in the incarceration, conviction, and eventual release of a young woman named Charity Payne who would become the focal point of a small town’s frustration with the criminal justice system. What caused this young woman to become involved in such horrible circumstances? What impact did her eventual release have on the victims’ families? What does this story say about the state of the criminal justice system in America today?
Charity had what many would call a normal small town background: good parents, supportive friends, popular in school. She would graduate from John Glenn High School in 2000, start a new job, and look to the future. Everything seemed to be going well until she met Phillip Stroud. Charity’s decisions at that time sparked flames that would never be extinguished; she dramatically changed the course of her life and those around her.
On September 14, 2000, Wayne Shumaker, Corby Myers, and Lynn Ganger were building a loft in a pole barn in an upscale, rural Indiana home. Phillip Stroud and 3 men from Detroit came to burglarize the home not knowing the construction workers were on site. After one of the workers came out of the barn, Stroud had the construction workers tied up and robbed. He then shot each of them in the head with a Tech .9mm handgun.
Stroud later admitted to the killings, and how he and his co-defendants bypassed the burglar alarm based on information provided to them by Charity Payne, who dated the young man whose parents owned the home. The events would shatter their small community. Charity was convicted of triple homicide and sentenced to 165 years in prison (only to serve 7) in one of the most publicized cases in northern Indiana’s history.
After ten years of silence, Charity has chosen to speak her mind about her role in the murders.
Was she just a naive young woman, or a mastermind planning a gruesome crime? Did the justice system fail?
Many of these questions will never see answers.