A Hardin County man has been charged with the murder of Caneyville child Hunter Ray Payton, who passed away in May of 2017 while in the man's foster care.

33-year-old Billy P. Embry, of Radcliff, was arrested by the Radcliff Police Department on a warrant prepared by a Radcliff police detective on Thursday night, Jan. 11 and charged with murder, according to Radcliff Police Department Captain Mark Skees.

The charge stems from an incident that occurred on May 8, 2017 in which Payton suffered a head injury that recent test results from the State Medical Examiner's Office have determined was inflicted upon him, Skees said.

Payton passed away on May 10, 2017 at Norton Children's Hospital in Louisville.

Though originally from Caneyville, Payton was living in the foster care of Embry and his husband in Hardin County at the time of his passing, according to attorney Ron Hines, who is representing Payton's parents in the case.

Following the Radcliff Police Department's investigation into the possible child abuse and the recent results of the State Medical Examiner's Office's tests, Radcliff law enforcement arrested Embry for the alleged murder of Payton and lodged him in the Hardin County Detention Center on a $250,000.00 cash bond.

Embry is scheduled to appear in Hardin District Court on Friday, Jan. 19 at 9 a.m.

In the weeks following Hunter Payton's death, his parents, Ryan and April Payton, hired Hines to further investigate the situation, and, Hines said, the arrest and murder charge have been "a long time coming."

Hines said Hunter Payton and his two siblings were removed from their parents by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services in early March of 2017.

see murder/page 3


According to Hines, in April of 2017, April Payton, who was given one hour per week visitation with her children, allegedly observed that her 2-year-old daughter had bruises on her cheek and jaw, and Hunter Payton had a black eye and bruising along his orbital socket and the ridge-line of his jaw.

Later, on May 9, 2017, April Payton reportedly received a call that Hunter Payton was in the Hardin Memorial Hospital Emergency Room with injuries, to which he succumbed at Norton Children's Hospital the next day, Hines said.

Hines alleges his office's investigation determined that one or both of the foster parents housing Hunter Payton and his siblings physically abused Hunter Payton and his younger sister.

Hines also alleged that the Cabinet for Health and Family Services told April Payton that the children's injuries were the result of accidents.

Hines praised Norton Children's Hospital for reporting the incident to law enforcement, which led to the autopsy on Hunter Payton's body.

Additionally, Hines said, Hunter Payton's parents are relieved "that the murderer is going to be brought to justice."

However, according to Hines, the cabinet should also be held accountable for Hunter Payton's death.

"They should never have placed these children in such a dangerous home," said Hines, who looks to pursue a civil suit against the cabinet in the future.

"I'm still fighting for justice for Hunter," said Hines.

In response to Hines' initial allegations, Cabinet for Health and Family Services (the cabinet) Spokesperson Doug Hogan said last year, "While confidentiality laws prohibit us from commenting on individual situations, we do want to extend our prayers and sympathies to all those impacted by this tragedy."

A request for comment from the cabinet on the update in this case was not returned by press time on Tuesday.

The Grayson County News-Gazette will continue to follow this story as it develops.


Courtesy photo

A Hardin County man has been charged with the murder of Hunter Ray Payton, pictured, a Caneyville child whom was 4-years-old at the time of his death.