One year later, shooting unsolved

By Maggie Cassidy, News Staff

Speaking from their home in New Milford, Conn. last week, Nick and Virginia Payne talked about their daughter proudly. She was caring, they said, always willing to help out friends in need; and smart, heading Northeastern’s Athletic Training club while looking forward to a bright future in the field.
But the Paynes said they struggled to briefly summarize the many qualities of their only child, Rebecca, a Northeastern student who was found shot to death in her Mission Hill apartment a year ago today.
‘Even a year later, it’s hard to try to encapsulate her life in words,’ Nick Payne said. ‘While you’re doing it, you’re saying, ‘Why are you encapsulating her life in words?’ Her life should be being lived. She should be looking for a job or something, and be decades away from having her life encapsulated in words.’
‘Nothing will be the same again,’ Virginia Payne said later in the conversation. ‘You wonder what would happen, what could have been.’
Few details have come out about Ms. Payne’s death since the days following the homicide, in which she suffered two gunshot wounds in her leg and one in her chest, according to police reports. Nobody called police at the time of the shooting but witnesses reported seeing a black van in the area at the time of the shooting, which took place at the Parker Hill Avenue apartment complex between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. May 20, 2008. Payne was 22.
She was found by her building manager around 7 a.m., according to Boston Police (BPD) reports.
BPD officials have consistently declined to comment on the investigation, except to say that it is ‘active and ongoing.’ BPD spokesperson Eddy Crispin told The News earlier this year that releasing details could compromise the investigation.
The Paynes said they have been in contact with BPD and Northeastern officials often during the last year, and said they have faith that the investigation is progressing.
‘[BPD is] holding out hope, Nick Payne said. ‘They haven’t reached any dead ends.’
He said one of the investigators spent the afternoon with the Paynes at Northeastern’s Athletic Training graduation ceremony earlier this year.
The Paynes also put up a $25,000 reward, including $5,000 pledges from Northeastern and Ms. Payne’s former employer, Legal Sea Foods, for information ‘leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for her death,’ according to the BPD website.
Meanwhile, Ms. Payne’s friends have been working to keep her memory alive with green wristbands they are selling for a National Athletic Training Association (NATA) scholarship made in her name. Lauren Ziaks, an athletic training major who graduated this month, said in an e-mail to The News that the wristbands had raised about $3,500, and the scholarship will be awarded at NATA’s annual conference in June, held this year in San Antonio, Texas.
‘Becca is not forgotten and never will be,’ Ziaks said in the e-mail. ‘Becca’s Bracelets will continue on to keep her memory alive and every time we look at the green band around our wrists we will remember that she is always with us.’
The Paynes said they plan to visit Boston to remember their daughter today, and they will be hosting a memorial service in her name at St. John’s Episcopal church in New Milford, Conn., Saturday at 3 p.m. While they said it is uplifting and comforting to see people wearing the green bracelets, the passage of time has not made their loss easier.
‘You would think it would, but it doesn’t. It doesn’t get better,’ Nick Payne said. ‘This thought comes back to you:’ Rebecca’s dead. It all comes to your head. Everything you’re laughing about or talking about with people suddenly comes to a stop.’
He said he and his wife hope somebody comes forward with information because ‘it’s just a question of doing the right thing, and sometimes it takes people a while to do the right thing.’ The Paynes also said that while the lack of information about their daughter’s death is difficult to cope with, they said they will always feel the pain of their loss.
‘So [if] they finally find somebody and they convict them, it has to make it easier,’ Nick Payne said, adding, ‘One wonders how much.’

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