But as it began to unfold, the details seemed more and more bizarre.
On November 10, 2015, reporter Travis Vaughn filed this report with the Moundville Times:
Multiple law enforcement agencies are investigating the grisly discovery of a dead Maplesville woman who was found tied to a tree in the Talladega National Forest on Monday, November 9, and have already arrested two suspects in connection with the death.
The victim has been identified as Samantha Christine Payne, 29, from Maplesville.
A hunter reportedly made the discovery in the Oakmulgee Division of the Talladega National Forest Monday morning around 9:00 a.m. in the forest and close to the South Sandy Shooting Range, off South Sandy Road. The area is near where Hale, Bibb, and Tuscaloosa counties come together.
Late Monday evening, Fourth Judicial Circuit District Attorney Michael Jackson issued this press release: "A female was found tied to a tree in Hale County. She had stab wounds and was dead. Her body was found in the National Forest. The Tuscaloosa Police Department and Hale County and Bibb County Sheriff's Office are investigating. Michael Belcher is the suspect in custody.”
Belcher is being held in the Tuscaloosa County Jail on a Capital Murder charge.
Another suspect, Chylli Bruce, 18, of Brent, has also been charged with Capital Murder and is also being held in Tuscaloosa County. More arrests are possible.
Investigators believe Payne, Belcher, and Bruce were together the night of November 1 in Bibb County and that Payne was killed and her body was left sometime between November 1 and early morning of November 2. On the morning of Monday, November 2, law enforcement from Hale and Tuscaloosa counties came into contact with Bruce and Stephen George, 27, of Brent, on South Sandy Road after receiving a call about a suspicious vehicle. Hale County deputies arrested Bruce and George that day on drug charges.
Payne’s body was discovered a week later in the woods 100 yards or so off South Sandy Road. (Permission granted by Vaughn to reprint it here.)
One of the prime suspects arrested is Michael David Belcher, 31. The group "Stop Judicial Corruption in Alabama" has characterized Belcher as an "Alleged Bibb County Drug Kingpin."
In the Bridgewater Triangle, there once was a similar case that took place decades ago.
In November, 1978, the body of Mary Lou Arruda, a 15-year-old cheerleader abducted from Raynham, Massachusetts that September, was discovered tied to a tree in the [Freetown-Fall River] state forest. James M. Kater of Brockton, previously convicted of kidnapping in 1967, was convicted of the kidnapping and murder of Arruda in 1979. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court overturned the verdict, and he was convicted again in 1986. The verdict once again overturned; he was retried in 1992, with that attempt ending in a mistrial
Some followers of Insane Clown Posse, also known as Juggalos and Juggalettes, have been known to be involved in alleged kidnappings, killings, and attempted murders. See, especially, the incidents in 2008 and 2011.