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DNA cracks 1983 McLaren Park murder

A DNA match has led to an arrest in a grisly murder that helped give McLaren Park its dangerous reputation in the ’80s.

47-year-old William Payne was arrested Monday by San Francisco police at a halfway house in Hayes Valley. Prosecutors filed murder charges against Payne on Tuesday for the 1983 slaying of 41-year-old Nikolaus Crumbley, a Texas man who had been visiting San Francisco.

Crumbley was found dead at the intersection of John Shelley Drive and Mansell with his pants and underwear pulled down past his knees. He had been robbed, sexually assaulted, and strangled.

Payne was arrested in 1984 in connection with a sexual assault on a woman, according to the Chron. Payne told that woman that he had robbed and killed a man in McLaren Park, according to a police affidavit.

According to police, Payne’s DNA matched a sample taken from Crumbley’s body during his autopsy. The sample was tested in 2004, and was matched to Payne in 2009 via the state Department of Justice’s DNA database.

Both of Crumbley’s parents have died in the 28+ years since the crime. But police said a surviving cousin of Crumbley’s “couldn’t believe” an arrest had been made after so much time had passed.

Payne is in county jail on $5 million bail. He is being represented by a public defender and is expected to be arraigned on Thursday.

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