PARK HILLS, Mo. (KMOV) – A 71-year-old man is suspected of inappropriately touching an 8-year-old girl.
The girl’s parents say they noticed their child acting strangely, and say that her behavior had changed dramatically over the last 18 months. But what made the parents suspicious was when they saw their daughter searching online with questions about pregnancy. They say that’s when they found out she has been assaulted.
Park Hills police say the assaults happened over a one-year period when the girl visited her grandmother at an apartment complex. They say 71-year-old Russell Payton admits befriending the girl, and grooming her, using gifts, before fondling her.
Police say he also admitted watching other children in City Park just behind the apartments.
Detectives say the little girl’s reaction should be a warning for parents.
“I have two kids myself, and as any parent, you should know the behavior of your kids,” says Detective Mike Kurtz of the Park Hills Police Department. “And if you see a sudden change, look deeper. There may be nothing, but it's something to be aware of.”
Payton is charged with first degree statutory sodomy, which carries up to a life sentence. He’s currently being held in the St. Francois County Jail.
Payton had no past criminal sexual behavior that police can find. Police also say no other victims have come forward, but they work other kids might have been victimized as well.