HOUSTON—Joseph Michael Payne is no longer charged with capital murder in the death of 18-year-old Trang Michelle Van.
Van was found dead in her home in the 10100 block of Lazy Lagoon on July 2, 2009. Van's family became concerned after she missed a planned meeting with a relative. After the relative called several times and could not reach her, family members went to find out what was wrong. That is when Van's father found her body inside a closet in the house.
Investigators searched for answers and Crime Stoppers offered a hefty reward, but the case went cold.
Payne was charged in 2012 after multiple tips came into Colorado County authorities. Subsequent investigation led to charges, but authorities say as it turns out, Payne himself sent in the anonymous tips. Investigators said Payne implicated himself in the murder hoping that once he was cleared that would clear the child pornography charges against him.
He is still in custody on those charges.