SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A suspect accused of stealing a car and abducting a child was so high she may not have realized any of it was happening, according to South Charleston police.


Amy Jo Payne

Amy Jo Payne, 37, of St. Albans, was arrested late Thursday night after she allegedly stole a vehicle as it was running in the 5500 block of MacCorkle Avenue.

“What the female was thinking, we’re still trying to piece all of that together,” said Lt. Pat Rader of the South Charleston Police Department. “She was under the influence of something pretty heavily and we really didn’t have an avenue to talk to her with her being so intoxicated.”

The vehicle was left running and police said Payne apparently hopped in and took off. There was a two-year-old boy strapped into the back seat. Police quickly had an all points bulletin out for the stolen vehicle and a Kanawha County deputy pulled over the car 20 minutes later in Jefferson.

“The car was spotted in Jefferson by deputies who stopped it,” said Rader. “She just pulled over, I’m not sure if she even knew what was going on she was so out of it. For all we know she may not have realized the child was even in there until somebody told her.”

There are also questions surrounding how the child wound up be left in a running car which is part of the ongoing investigation. During her arraignment in Kanawha County Magistrate Court, Payne told WSAZ-TV she had purchased the vehicle for $25 and didn’t know the child was inside.

Rader said the investigation is ongoing.

“There are some houses nearby and we don’t know if maybe she was running into one of those houses real quickly,” said Rader. “What the circumstances were, I’m not sure anybody knows. We have a lot of follow up to do on why the child was left in a vehicle by itself or even how long it was left in a vehicle by itself.”

The child, a two year old boy, was apparently in the car of a grandmother at the time. Police said the little boy is okay.

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