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Katherine Payne

A 39-year-old Pima woman was booked into the Graham County Jail on child abuse charges Friday after police learned her 3-year-old son traveled nearly one mile while sitting on a SUV’s trailer hitch.

According to a Pima Police Department report, a couple called police around 8 p.m. Friday from a Pima convenience store on Highway 70. The couple told an officer they saw a SUV pull into the store parking lot with a diapered child sitting on the trailer hitch. They recognized the adults in the vehicle as their neighbors. The woman said she shouted “Oh my God” and ran toward the SUV and the little boy got scared and began to run away, the report said.

The witness said at that point, the woman in the vehicle, whom she recognized as the mother of the child, grabbed the boy, put him inside the SUV and scolded him, the report said.

The officer went to the child’s home and his mother, identified as Katherine Payne, admitted the boy had ridden on the trailer hitch. She said she’d been having trouble controlling him lately, but didn’t know he was on the hitch when they left their home, 0.8 miles from the convenience store. She also told the officer she’s been struggling with drug addiction, but was trying to get help, the report stated.

A clerk at the store said she overheard Payne laughing about the incident and saying, “I can’t believe he drove all the way on the bumper of the truck,” the report stated.

The officer noted that between Payne’s home and the store, the driver of the vehicle had to make multiple turns and stop at at least one stop sign.

Payne was arrested on suspicion of child abuse/neglect.

The Arizona Department of Child Safety has been notified and Payne’s children are now staying with family members.

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