Elsie Steppa and Clarence Thornton murders,Payton Saari's location

Elsie Steppa and Clarence Thornton Murders: Where Is Payton Saari Now?

The documentary ‘A Time to Kill: Frozen Stiffs’ on Investigation Discovery details the gruesome killings of Elsie Steppa, 81, and Clarence Thornton, 50, who were both victims of late-December 2012 murders in Ethelbert, Canada. Nearly a month after the bodies were found, the police were able to solve the double homicide with the help of the thinly populated town’s citizens. We’ve got your back if you want to learn more about the case, including who the killer is. So let’s get started, shall we?

How Did Elsie Steppa and Clarence Thornton Die?

The unincorporated community of Ethelbert in Manitoba, Canada, received shocking news on January 19, 2013, which shocked the entire city. The mayor of Ethelbert requested assistance from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to check on the wellbeing of Elsie Steppa, an elderly resident. The last time anyone had seen her was a few weeks ago. Even in the frigid weather, the neighbours had not observed any smoke coming from the chimney, and the dogs had not been seen for several weeks

Elsie Steppa and Clarence Thornton murders,Payton Saari's location


Elsie and her adult nephew Clarence Harold Thornton, according to rumours, arrived from Ontario and settled in the Polish-Ukrainian neighbourhood in 1994. They were largely quiet, according to their neighbours, and the couple had previously worked in the food and hospitality sectors. According to court documents, the neighbourhood thought of her as an unusual person who kept up to 20 stray cats at once, getting the nickname “Cat Woman.” Clarence, her nephew, has been identified as having mental health problems.

He was referred to as a “nuisance” by the local police because of his repeated attempts to cause trouble by claiming to be Jesus. He legally changed his name to “Harry Jones” when he arrived in Manitoba, according to court records, allegedly to avoid being arrested in Hamilton, which was still unsolved on the day he passed away. The cops were suspicious when they arrived at the residence because they noticed the front door was slightly ajar. When the police entered the house, they found it in disarray.

VCD players and chords were stacked on top of one another and were visible everywhere. They discovered a makeshift shrine with religious artefacts strewn about in the living room of what appeared to be a hoarder’s home. The house was pitch-black and chilly because the electricity was out. Hearing adjacent dog barking, the police headed to the back. The two dogs jumped out as they opened the stuck door, and they discovered Elsie’s body laying face down. She was hairless and had an axe protruding from her broken skull.

Elsie Steppa and Clarence Thornton murders,Payton Saari's location

According to police records, she had both of her ears and her throat slashed, as well as losing her right arm and a portion of her left arm. Near her body, the police also discovered a bloodied saw and hammer. Jay Funke, the crown attorney, noted that “the walls were covered in religious and political ramblings.” On January 21, they discovered Clarence’s body in the bed of his pickup vehicle, behind the home, under a stack of pallets. Parts of his head and skull were gone, and according to the postmortem report, his throat had also been slit. In the snow close to the truck, they discovered a bloodied axe.

Who Killed Elsie Steppa and Clarence Thornton?

When the detectives discovered Elsie Steppa’s body, they at first had doubts about her mentally challenged nephew, Clarence Thornton. After attempting to steal products from a Hamilton convenience store, the officers discovered he was the subject of an arrest warrant. Clarence attempted to thwart arrest when the police were summoned and they got on the scene, breaking one of the officers’ arms in the process. The medical examiner was trying to determine when she died, and his murky past made him a leading suspect in the killing.

Elsie Steppa and Clarence Thornton murders,Payton Saari's location

However, the corpse was frozen, making it hard to pinpoint the precise moment of death due to Ethelbert’s subfreezing temperature range of 17 °F to -15 °F. Before discovering his pickup truck at the back of the expansive rural property, the authorities conducted a thorough search for the missing nephew. The mutilated body of Clarence was discovered inside the car by the police, who were horrified. The coroner was unable to determine the exact time of death for Clarence because of the extreme cold in Manitoba, even though it was clear they had been dead for weeks.

The 300 members of the hamlet were questioned by the detectives regarding the double homicide. Since Elsie, 81, had no known enemies, they were unable to uncover any clues or proof. The police investigated each lead until they were eliminated as potential suspects after discovering that Clarence held a grudge against a number of individuals. They spoke with Marcus, one of Clarence’s cronies, who directed them to Payton Saari. Payton, according to Marcus, was upset with Clarence because he thought he had stolen his snowboard.

Payton laughed at Marcus’ statements and brushed them off when law authorities first questioned him. But when he told his fiancée about seeing Clarence at the city dump on December 22, 2012, she and her mother told the police. He claimed that after a fight between the two of them, Payton struck the other person in the head with a two-by-four. His girlfriend was upset because the chat took place before the deaths were found, so the detectives again summoned Payton in for an interview.

Payton denied the charge and said he was kidding. He claimed he made it up to test how she would respond if he admitted to a bizarre criminal act, according to attorney Jay Funke. Additionally, she passed the test. Clarence had been deceased for weeks, therefore Payton erred when he claimed to have spoken to him just days before he was discovered dead. The investigators were aware of this. The following week, the police requested that he take a polygraph test. Days later, he called the detectives and admitted to the double homicide.

Where is Payton Saari Now?

The episode claimed that Payton, a First Nation man, lost his composure after Clarence allegedly yelled a racial epithet during their confrontation on December 22. He repeatedly struck Clarence with a two-by-four before killing him, cutting his neck, and concealing the body in the victim’s truck. Elsie observed him when he was parking the car after he had driven it to Steppa’s house. Payton killed her with an axe before sawing off her throat out of concern that she may tip off the police. Her dogs are blamed for the missing hair, ears, and limbs.

In Payton’s account, the body of Clarence was remained in the back of the truck for several days, giving the impression that he was still alive to the neighbours. Additionally, he made repeated trips to the Steppa house to take electronics to pass off at nearby businesses. He was seen doing it on video from the Dauphin pawn store, and the police discovered Payton’s jacket at the scene. He was given a paranoid schizophrenia diagnosis and given a life sentence with a 20-year parole eligibility period. In 2033, the 30-year-old will be able to apply for parole.

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