Saturday, October 3, 2020

The Savage Murder of Ruby Ann Payne

Babysitter Attacked by "Sex Fiend"

Written by Robert A. Waters

At fifteen-years of age, Ruby Ann Payne still had that welcome glow of innocence about her. When school reopened that fall, she would be a sophomore. Now, on the afternoon of August 8, 1952, in Yorba Linda, California, she was babysitting the three children of William Perry Dyer. A beekeeper and farmer, Dyer had hired the neighbor girl to babysit Kenny, 8, Johnny, 5, and Ruby, 2, while he and his wife went shopping.

A farming community 38 miles north of Los Angeles, many landowners hired braceros from Mexico to harvest their crops. Dyer had no braceros, so he employed a distant relative, eighteen-year-old Billy Rupp, as a helper. The kid was trouble and Dyer knew it, but thought he'd give the boy a chance.

A few moments after Dyer drove away, Rupp knocked on the back door of the farmhouse. As Ruby Ann sat on the sofa in the play room watching television, Kenny answered the door.

"Are your parents home?" Rupp asked.

"No. They've gone shopping."

Rupp left for a few minutes, then returned holding a .22-caliber rifle. He entered the home and asked the eight-year-old to fetch him a hammer. Kenny quickly returned with a claw-hammer and handed it to Rupp. The farmhand then sent the boy on another errand outside the home.

Rupp made straight for the play room. For a moment he watched the children playing on the floor while Ruby Ann's eyes were glued to the television set. Then he moved behind the babysitter and slugged her with the hammer. Blood spurted from the top of her head and she screamed before jumping off the couch and racing down the hall. Rupp fired, his first bullet hitting Ruby Ann squarely in the back. She kept running and the farmhand fired again. This time she went down.

Outside, Kenny heard the gunshots and ran back into the house. He stood shell-shocked, watching as Rupp attempted to remove Ruby Ann's jeans. The boy asked Rupp what had happened, but the farmhand remained silent. Then, as if realizing that the child had discovered his sinister plan, Rupp hurried outside, climbed into his car, and disappeared.

Kenny ran next door and alerted Mrs. Belba Quinn. She quickly called a doctor and implored him to hurry, then followed the boy back home. The neighbor attempted to aid Ruby Ann, but soon realized there was no hope for the girl.

That evening, the coroner performed an autopsy. It read: "One bullet entered [Ruby Ann's] back, passed through the lungs and emerged from the chest. A second bullet penetrated the right side of the face and lodged in the neck. In addition, a wound which could have been caused by a blow from a hammer was found on the top of the head. Death resulted from asphyxiation, caused by blood entering the trachea and bronchea (sic), combined with shock and loss of blood. An examination of the genital system revealed a bruise or abrasion on the hymen, resulting from the insertion of some object into the vagina. No traces of semen fluid were found about the body, although stains of that substance appeared upon Rupp's underclothing."

By now, Rupp was long gone.

Journalist Ruth Reynolds later wrote that "an all-points bulletin [for] the teenager flashed across the state--5 feet 10, 179 pounds, light brown hair cut short, brown eyes; probably wearing sun tans and an aluminum oilfield type helmet. His car was a black 1937 Ford coupe."

When Billy's father and step-mother heard the news, they collapsed. Reporters printed photos of the grieving couple sobbing in disbelief. The Dyers were also stunned. "I meant to fire Billy a week ago because he was lazy and shiftless," William Dyer said. "I knew he was dumb, but I never expected anything like this about him."

Laurence and Helen Payne, meanwhile, told reporters the family was holding up "fairly well." Their daughter, a religious girl, had voiced an interest in becoming a missionary in India. She loved her dog and her home, which was located on a hill above dozens of cypress groves. While Laurence said he wished for justice in the case, he held no animosity toward Rupp's parents.

In the meantime, Rupp drove into the mountains and slept in his car that night. For the next four days, the teenager kept to himself in a rugged canyon area near Newport. His only food was a half-bag of pretzels. Finally, on the verge of starving, the killer abandoned his car and walked to a restaurant in the small town of Brea. The cafeteria owner, who had been closely following the case, recognized the teenager and alerted police. Rupp had taken one bite of his hamburger before being overpowered and arrested.

Rupp made three confessions. He stated that he had seen Ruby Ann several times and was sexually attracted to her. That day, when the Dyers left, he decided to "force" himself on her.

This wasn't his first violent sex attempt. When he was 14, Rupp entered the bedroom of a Cypress, California housewife and attempted to rape her. The victim fought back, however, and he beat her unconscious with the butt of a rifle.

Rupp served no time. Instead, he was committed to Camarillo State Hospital for three months. A psychiatric evaluation found him to be a psychopath, with little if any empathy for others. Doctors recommended close monitoring of the offender. Then he was released to the custody of his father.

At trial, Rupp's attorney argued that he was brain-damaged. Public Defender N. D. Meyer said he'd been injured during birth when doctors pulled him from the birth canal with forceps. "The boy is not able to control his emotions as a normal individual does," Meyer said, "because of the brain damage reported by the psychiatrists. I'm not asking you to turn this boy loose. But I want you to remember this brain damage and do what you think is right."

The jury did just that. Using the "better safe than sorry" theory, they sentenced Rupp to death.

Six years later, after many appeals, Billy Rupp gasped his last breath in San Quentin's gas chamber. Women all over California breathed a sigh of relief. A budding serial killer had been removed from society for good.

Ruby Ann Payne, who had never even been on a date, was soon forgotten, except by family and friends. Nearly 70 years later, there is little mention of her on the internet.

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