Police in Miami-Dade County, Fla., arrested Amy L. Lambert, 27, early Saturday morning, Oct. 27, during a traffic stop in the Miami area, Whitehall Sgt. Dan Kelso said.
Lambert, who has been charged with aggravated murder and kidnapping, was en route to the Miami area to pick up one of the two men who also were charged with aggravated murder and kidnapping of 38-year-old Michael Payne, a 1993 graduate of Whitehall-Yearling High School, police said.
That man, Maxamillion J. Williams, 18, exited a cruise ship in Cozumel, Mexico, before its departure, police said. Authorities in Mexico have Williams in custody, and he is expected to be extradited to Ohio.
Lambert, Williams and another man, Dartanian Hawkins, 19, of 3748 Rivercreek Bay Way, are charged with one count each of aggravated murder and kidnapping.
Lambert allegedly had stolen her grandfather’s vehicle and credit cards prior to fleeing Ohio, and police were looking for the vehicle. Lambert initially was charged with tampering with evidence, but police upgraded the charges after the investigation indicated Lambert had played an active role in the murder, police said.
Police say they believe Lambert was at Williams’ apartment, at 4069 E. Livingston Ave., when Payne was killed.
“Murder for hire is certainly a possibility,” Kelso said.
Lambert told police her address was on Little Flower Lane, where Payne had resided with his parents, David and Deborah.
David Payne said Lambert had never lived there.
Kelso said Lambert previously was acquainted with Williams and Hawkins through drug activity at Williams’ apartment, where Lambert was known to reside.
Columbus police arrested Hawkins on Oct. 23. During Hawkins’ arraignment, Municipal Judge Scott VanDerKarr set a $1 million cash or surety bond on each count. Hawkins is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Thursday, Nov. 1, in Municipal Court.
Michael’s father on Oct. 29 said family and friends had warned him about Lambert, whom his son had known since Lambert was 12 years old. She was a foster child of David Lambert’s bother.
Lambert and Michael Payne were to be married Dec. 7, David Payne said, and Michael had named Lambert as the beneficiary of a $100,000 life-insurance policy.
“They liked each other since they met,” David Lambert said. “But she was a bad-news girl, and we all told him that.”
Lambert was released from prison in February after serving more than three years for burglary and identification theft.
“Michael visited her in jail once a week and left money for her, too,” David Lambert said.
After Lambert was released, she allegedly took Payne’s vehicle, a GMC Yukon, which Payne did not see again, his father said.
“Everybody told him to get rid of her, but he loved her and didn’t want to do it,” David Payne said.
The investigation turned toward a suspected murder-for-hire after a witness told David Payne and police about Lambert’s comments.
“One of her friends told me that Amy said, ‘He’s worth more to me dead than alive,’ ” David Payne said.
David Payne said their only son had lived at home his entire life and worked at several jobs, including delivering newspapers and cutting grass, to make ends meet.
“It hurts to lose your only child,” he said.
Michael Payne was last seen Friday, Oct. 19, and police believe he was killed late Friday or early Saturday, Oct. 20, at Williams’ East Livingston Avenue apartment.
Payne’s body was discovered at about 4 a.m. Oct. 20 outside an apartment building at 4655 Eastway Court, near East Broad Street, by a witness who was leaving for work. Payne’s body was not clothed. His clothes were recovered in a nearby trash receptacle, police said.
Williams has an unrelated case pending in Municipal Court. He is scheduled for a Nov. 7 pretrial hearing for his arrest by Columbus police in July for receiving stolen property.
Williams pleaded no contest in March to theft from a JCPenney store at Eastland Mall.
A fourth person also is charged in connection with Payne’s murder.
Jeffery Martin Bagley, 32, of 726 S. Ohio Ave., is charged with a felony count of tampering with evidence. A judge set Bagley’s bond at $1,500, and he was scheduled for a preliminary hearing at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 30.