Veteran firefighter charged with 40 counts of child porn - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Veteran firefighter charged with 40 counts of child porn

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Eddie Payne Eddie Payne

DALTON, WHITFIELD COUNTY (WRCB)  --  A veteran volunteer firefighter in Whitfield County is behind bars on 40 counts of child pornography.

"You know it's a let down that somebody in that position would be able to be charged with something of this magnitude," says Sheriff Scott Chitwood.  

Chitwood says a tip led investigators to search Eddie Payne's personal computer. What they found was shocking, dozens of pornographic pictures of young children.

"I mean there's no question that they're 8 years old or 10 years old or 12 years old, or 14. They're obviously a young child," Chitwood says.  

Payne, 67, of Dalton, volunteered at Fire Station Number 1 in Whitfield County for more than 25 years. At one point he was even being considered for Firefighter of the Year.

"Now, you've lost trust in him," says neighbor James Walkey. "Well it makes me worry about his grand kids, and it makes me worry about the kids in the neighborhood because I have a daughter that's 13."   

Walkey says he doesn't know how anyone in a position of authority and community service could be charged with 40 counts of child porn.

"It just makes you lose a little bit of confidence in all that," Walkey says.  

Chitwood says their investigation isn't over. Right now they're trying to find out if Payne personally knew any of the young children in his pictures.

"That aspect is being looked into," Chitwood says.  

"I just don't understand how a man could do something like that," says Walkey.

Payne will not return to the Whitfield County Fire Department. His bond was denied Wednesday evening, he remains in custody at the Whitfield County Jail.  

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