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Sheriff: Facebook Unfriending Primary Motive In Double Murder Case

By Meredith Machen, mmachen@wcyb.com
Published On: Feb 09 2012 04:52:01 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 10 2012 11:35:21 AM CST
JOHNSON COUNTY, Tenn. -

An escalating family squabble that ended in two deaths may have culminated with someone being "unfriended" on Facebook.

That is coming from investigators about the deaths of Billy Payne Jr. and Billie Jean Hayworth. They were found dead in their Doe Valley home last week.

It was the question on the minds of many: what could prompt anyone to brutally kill the young couple inside their home in the presence of their little baby? Now investigators believe that question could be answered.

Marvin Potter, Jr.and Jamie Lynn Curd are each charged with first degree murder. Both have ties to a girl named Jenelle Potter.

According to Assistant District Attorney Matthew Roark, she is Marvin Potter Jr.'s daughter and Curd's ex-girlfriend. The sheriff says it was her online relationship with the victims that started the whole controversy. "That's her life, evidently, from what we've gathered from this investigation. She used a computer to communicate with all these people," said Johnson County Sheriff Mike Reece.

According to Sheriff Reece, when Payne and Hayworth blocked and removed Janelle Potter as a friend on Facebook she didn't take it lightly. "Everything was fine until they blocked her. That's when the harassment started," said Reece.

The sheriff said it came in the form of phone calls and online messages. We checked and the victims in this case weren't the only ones alleging harassment. At least two court documents claim Jenelle Potter was harassing them on Facebook.

We're told the suspects in the murder have a history of standing up for Jenelle Potter. "Mr. Curd is Mr. Payne's cousin. Apparently, there was some tension as to who was taking which side in those harassment cases," said Matthew Roark, Johnson County's assistant district attorney.

Roark told us Curd testified on Potter's behalf on one of those harassment cases. We're told her parents supported her as well.

"Once you removed Jenelle, you had to deal with her parents. They picked up and took it there with her, so you were dealing with the entire family," said Reece.

Which is why investigators are now collecting the online conversations as evidence and are pointing to a computer as the source of a gruesome murder.

We did contact Jenelle Potter at her home and spoke with her mother. Both refused to talk to us and wouldn't give us the name of their attorney.