BREAKING: Shippensburg man denied bail after he’s charged with 50 counts of child porn

27 December 2023- A former sex offender is now facing charges of possession of child pornography after a search warrant on his home finds multiple electronic devices. Thomas Evan Payne is charged with 50 counts of child pornography possession, a class three felony. Payne also is charged with felony criminal use of a communications facility. He was denied bail at an arraignment this morning by MDJ Nicklas, with her citing “no bail conditions available to ensure the defendant’s and community’s safety”.

On February 7th of this year, members of the Pennsylvania Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and later the Office of the Attorney General, received information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children regarding child porn being accessed online in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Through search warrants from ISPs and other means, police were able to determine the that the address that they believed was accessing child pornography was a location on Mainsville Road, Shippensburg.

Thomas Evan Payne’s booking photo per the Franklin County Jail

After identifying information from both Comcast and the Megan’s Law database, police allegedly determined the home held both Thomas Evan Payne and his mother. According to a Megan’s Law lookup, Payne was found guilty in April of 2000 for 3rd Degree Sex Offense out of state. Whether the victim was or was not a minor is unable to be determined due to the fact his arrest came before 2006.

A search warrant was carried out on the residence on Mainsville Road, which had two homes on one property. Officers determined that the back residence belonged to Payne and his mother and their search initially only dealt with that residence. The front residence belonged to a member of Payne’s family and the latter’s significant other.

Warrant Service officers confiscated multiple electronic devices belonging to Payne. During the investigation, Payne was interviewed. Police allegedly found that him and his mother were the primary internet users due to the Wi-Fi only reaching the back home and not his family member in the front house. Although officers reportedly found out that Payne’s family member was able to access the internet, it was very difficult due to the distance from the router.

During Payne’s interview, he allegedly told officers that he had consumed pornography through Bing image lookup. Due to some search terms involved, Payne allegedly said that sometimes he would accidentally click on child pornography but that was not his intent.

A forensic analysis was conducted on the devices seized from Payne’s household. During a search of an HP laptop as well as a Dell desktop, police say they found at least 50 files of child pornography located on their drives. Court filings from members of the AG’s Office say “It is also of note that this is a small sampling of the actual number of apparent child pornography files that were located on Payne’s electronic devices.” The describe how numerous files involved children under the age of 10.

Thomas Payne was denied bail. His preliminary hearing is set for January 9th.

Sources: Docket Number: MJ-39304-CR-0000331-2023, Incident No.: CPC230060