A Tennessee woman shot and killed Tuesday morning in the Veto community in northern Limestone County had only been in Alabama a short time, having moved in with friends because she feared for her life, according to the Limestone County Sheriff's Office.
Limestone Sheriff Mike Blakely said in a press conference Tuesday afternoon that 51-year-old Melanie Payne of Prospect, Tennessee, knew 21-year-old Samuel Hoback, her suspected killer, also of Prospect. Blakely said Payne and Hoback were "acquaintances for some time," but "whatever they had been before turned pretty sour" about six months to a year ago.
That sourness led to Hoback allegedly shooting into Payne's home in Tennessee about a week ago, which in turn led to her moving in with friends in the Veto community near the Alabama-Tennessee state line. Blakely said Hoback was released from jail the day before the shooting and was seen multiple times riding near the residence where Payne was fatally shot around 4 a.m. Tuesday.
"She was scared of him and had moved in with these people to try to not have to be alone with him," Blakely said. "He had shot up her house before, he'd made threats against her, he was seen there in the area and then this morning, on multiple occasions, he attempted to elude Giles County and Limestone County (sheriff's deputies)."
Blakely thanked Giles County (Tenn.) deputies for assisting LCSO as they tracked down and eventually apprehended Hoback near Robinson Hollow Road about six hours after the shooting. Authorities believe Hoback traveled to his parents' home after the shooting to exchange vehicles and change clothes before returning to Alabama.
In addition to being charged with murder, Hoback is charged with probation revocation on previous conviction of fourth-degree theft and possession of a controlled substance. The latter is related to methamphetamine that was found in Hoback's vehicle along with a .38-caliber handgun.
Blakely could not say whether the handgun was the murder weapon, but he noted there was one spent cartridge in the gun. Blakely further noted Hoback's "violent history."
According to The News Courier's news partner WAFF-48, Hoback was arrested in Giles County, Tennessee, on first-degree attempted murder, aggravated burglary, reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon and aggravated assault in June 2019. He was released on bond in March, then was arrested on charges of aggravated burglary, aggravated criminal trespass, theft of property and vandalism July 6, according to WAFF-48.
He was released on bond related to those charges Monday. Blakely said Payne was due to testify against Hoback in a bond revocation hearing in Giles County on Tuesday.
Blakely said there is "still a whole lot that's gotta be done" in LCSO's murder investigation, with investigators continuing to speak with family and friends and searching Hoback's parents' home in Tennessee.
Hoback, meanwhile, remained Tuesday in the Limestone County Jail. No bail has been set.