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Police: Elderly man bludgeoned to death, couple dumped body in desert

A couple has been accused of fatally bludgeoning the elderly man for whom they were working and then dumping his body in the desert in 2018, police said.

Patrick Byrom, 41, and Kortny Payne, 45, who were both in prison in Colorado, have been charged in connection with the killing of 86-year-old William Ellis. The man’s body was found by hikers on Sept. 11, 2018, in a remote desert area near Carpenter Canyon and Lee Spring Canyon Loop roads.

Ellis was found wrapped in blankets and trash bags in a thicket of bushes, according to a Metropolitan Police Department arrest warrant.

A forensic analysis determined that Ellis was killed before Aug. 29, based on how the body had decomposed. The coroner’s office found that he had four broken ribs and a skull fracture. Ellis’ cause of death was determined to be sharp and blunt force trauma to the head.

Ellis was reported missing by a friend and police learned that Ellis was wheelchair bound. In November, Payne and Byrom were arrested in Texas after leading police in vehicle pursuit. The white minivan they fled in was registered to Ellis, according to the warrant.

When interviewed by police in Colorado prison earlier this year, Payne admitted to her part in the killing and robbery of Ellis and implicated Byrom. She was working as Ellis’ caretaker and said Byrom struck Ellis in the head with a hammer. After killing Ellis, Payne and Byrom accessed Ellis’ passwords and used them to transfer $6,000 to Byrom’s bank account, according to the warrant.

Both Byrom and Payne have been charged with open murder, robbery, elder abuse and conspiracy to commit robbery, court records show.

Byrom and Payne remain in Clark County Detention Center without bail and are due in court later this year.

Contact David Wilson at dwilson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @davidwilson_RJ on X.

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