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Crime News Criminal Confessions

Woman Impersonates CIA Agent To Convince Boyfriend, Parents To Murder Couple

The agent's emails contained a "very unusual type of writing and attitude from someone that would be a federal investigator of any sort."

By Aly Vander Hayden
Criminal Confessions 201: Jenelle Potter Impersonated a CIA Agent

On January 31, 2012, Billy Payne and his girlfriend Billie Jean Hayworth were found shot to death in their Mountain City, Tennessee, home. Both Payne and Hayworth had sustained single gunshot wounds to the head, and Payne's throat had been slashed post-mortem. Hayworth had died holding the couple's 7-month-old son Tyler, who was unharmed. 

The Johnson County Sheriff's Department and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation immediately began interviewing friends and family to find out who could have wanted to murder Payne or Hayworth. 

Agent Scott Lott told Oxygen's "Criminal Confessions" that a few names kept popping up during the investigation — Jenelle Potter, her parents, Buddy and Barbara Potter, and Payne's cousin, Jamie Curd. According to multiple testimonies, Payne and Hayworth had recently been involved in a Facebook feud with Jenelle, who was dating Curd. Curd quickly sided with the Potter family, which led to a physical altercation between the cousins.

[Photo: "Criminal Confessions" Screengrab]

When investigators reached out the Potters, Jenelle claimed Payne and Hayworth had harassed her online and even hacked into her Facebook account. Buddy and Barbara backed up their daughter's story, with Barbara claiming, "They hacked in all the time."

In the week following the murders, detectives also interviewed Curd and had him take a polygraph test, which he failed. Agent Mike Hannon confronted Curd and said the question he had the most trouble with was about the identity of Payne and Hayworth's killer. Ultimately, Curd broke and told investigators he and Buddy had murdered Payne and Hayworth to protect Jenelle, but before doing so, he asked the agents an odd question: "Is the CIA here?"

Investigators were confused, but kept the interview moving forward in order to secure a confession. But when they brought in Buddy for questioning and did a search of the Potter property, detectives made a shocking discovery.

"We found a lot of [email] communications with a person named Chris. This Chris person was supposedly associated with the Central Intelligence Agency. It looked like Chris was trying to convince not only the Potter family but Jamie also that there was a real threat out there from Bill Payne, Billie Jean Hayworth and all their friends. And that if something wasn't done to stop that threat, then Jenelle, or possibly the whole Potter family, would be hurt," said Agent Lott. 

The emails contained a "very unusual type of writing and attitude from someone that would be a federal investigator of any sort." Detectives asked both Barbara and Jenelle to come to the sheriff's office to type out statements so they could compare their testimonies with the emails from "Chris." 

"It was very easy to associate [Chris'] writing style with Jenelle Potter's writing style, just due to grammatical areas and the ways that people write and type," said Agent Lott.

Investigators confirmed "Chris" and Jenelle were the same person, concluding that she had manipulated her parents and boyfriend into plotting and carrying out the murders of Payne and Hayworth.

To hear more about how investigators captured Jenelle Potter, watch  "Criminal Confessions" on Oxygen.

[Photo: "Criminal Confessions" Screengrab]

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