Details of Disappearance
Payne was last seen in Santa Fe, New Mexico on July 4, 1996. That day, she went to a barbeque near the Santa Fe Downs with a female friend. Witnesses saw her leave between 9:00 and 9:30 p.m. with Robert L. Bryant in his blue Mazda pickup truck.
Payne never picked up her car and has never been heard from again. When interviewed, Bryant said he left the barbeque alone and went to the Eagles Lodge. He said he also visited his sister's home and his girlfriend's home.
However, investigation proved the lodge had been closed that night, but Bryant's sister and girlfriend said they never saw him.
Bryant has an extensive criminal record, including charges of cocaine trafficking and driving under the influence. A clinical psychologist described him as a manipulative and antisocial alcohol and drug addict with a potential for violence and a great deal of anger towards women.
He was later convicted of the 1998 rape and murder of a woman and sentenced to life in prison. Police found news clippings about Payne's disappearance in his briefcase in his vehicle when he was arrested. He has never been charged in Payne's case.
Another possible suspect in Payne's case is Anthony Klima. Payne bought and sold cocaine for Klima. She supposedly owed him between $2,000 and $3,000 at the time of her disappearance, and Klima had allegedly threatened to kill her.
An informant told police that a man working for Klima killed Payne, transported her body in Klima's Ford Bronco and buried it in a field near Romeroville, New Mexico. Police searched the Bronco and found blood on the rear floor carpeting on the passenger's side. It has been submitted for analysis.
Payne's disappearance remains unsolved. It's uncharacteristic of her to be out of touch with her family or to leave without warning. She is a graduate of Santa Fe High School and was employed as a nanny at the time she went missing. Foul play is suspected in her case.