Alleged Bailey Manor "car bomber" has died

The man who spent the past years in a hospital after being declared unfit to stand trial for attempted murder in a Clinton assisted living facility incident has died.


An obituary said Alton Payton died Feb. 13 in Anderson. He was arrested and charged in 2014 for allegedly trying to kill Rita Stanley, administrator of the Bailey Manor Christian Retirement Community (now executive director of the same facility, named Woodbridge Senior Living Clinton) - he never faced trial on any charge.

Payton allegedly rammed his car with a full gasoline can in the back seat through the front door of Bailey Manor. His motive was never explained, since his case never went to trial.

A Clinton firefighter pulled Payton out of his burning car, and the gasoline never fully ignited. 

Bailey Manor, the former Bailey Hospital in Clinton, was renovated, re-opened and then sold from a charity to another not-for-profit group. On Feb. 12, the facility held its annual Love Our Neighbors Valentine’s lunch, and on Thursday will say good-bye to its activities director of 17 1/2 years, Joe Reiland, who is retiring and moving to Charleston.


Alton Payton

ANDERSON - Alton Payton, 88, widower of Gertrude Payton, formerly of 111 Dogwood Circle, passed away Wednesday, February 13, 2019 at the Richard M. Campbell Veterans Home in Anderson.

He was born in Calhoun Falls and was a son of the late Buck Alton and Pearl Dutton Payton. He was retired from Clinton Mills and was a US Army Veteran of the Korean War. He was also a member of the Davidson Street Baptist Church and the Laurens VFW.

Mr. Payton is survived by his daughter, Mary Ann Miller of McCormick; his granddaughter, Crystal McKinney of Johnston; his brother, Kent Payton of Orangeburg; his four sisters, Ethel McKellar of Clinton, Evelyn Dunn of Columbia, Gail Gosnell of Chesnee, and Bobbie Hulsey of Chesnee; his great-grandchildren, Carrie Lynn Mack, Dylan Mack, Thomas M. McKinney IV, Madeline McKinney; and two great-great grandchildren, Skylar Dabbs and Cammie Lynn Cason.

He was predeceased by a grandson, William Carey Alton Mack.

Funeral services were held Saturday, February 16, 2019 at the Gray Funeral Home Chapel in Clinton with burial at Pinelawn Memory Gardens with Military Honors. 

Condolences may be expressed the family online at

Gray Funeral Home of Clinton



Previous, Date of Incident: August 27, 2014


Attempted murder suspect needs psychiatric help, Clinton judge told


By Vic MacDonald

Staff Writer


Shackled with chains and sitting in a wheelchair, attempted murder suspect Alton Payton asked the woman he narrowly missed hitting with his car if he could return to the retirement community his vehicle smashed into and get medication.

“No, Mr. Payton, we will be closed for about three months,” Bailey Manor Administrator Rita Stanley told 84-year-old Alton Payton, which lived in apartment #230 at Bailey Manor.

On Aug. 27, Payton allegedly rammed his vehicle intentionally through two glass doors at Bailey Manor and drove 30 feet into the front hallway. The vehicle ignited, and Payton was pulled from the car. About 40 residents evacuated, and seven people in addition to Payton were treated at the hospital.

Payton was not allowed to return to Bailey Manor after the hospital decided he could be released. He was arrested Wednesday night.

His niece asked Clinton Municipal Judge Bob Link why Payton had to spend a night in jail, rather than be taken to a secure psychiatric facility. Link said Payton’s family would have to talk to Robin Morse, director, Clinton Department of Public Safety, about that.

Morse talked to the niece and one of Payton’s sisters after Payton’s bond hearing, his first appearance in court to face charges of attempted murder and malicious injury to property more than $10,000.

Bailey Manor staff set up a temporary office in NHC Clinton, and will operate out of a disaster relief mobile command center provided by ServPro to get alternate placement for its independent and assisted living residents.

Stanley said they want to keep the residents in Clinton, but some independent residents might have to accept placement in Laurens or Greenwood.

“This is a very serious case,” Morse said to Link. “His actions caused thousands of dollars in damage. If he is released, he could be a threat to society. We are requested no bond or a substantial bond with conditions.”

Link asked Morse about getting a psychiatric evaluation for Payton. Morse said he would discuss the matter with Eighth Circuit Solicitor David Stumbo, whose office will prosecute the case against Payton.

Payton could be sentenced to life in prison if he is convicted of attempted murder.

“The Circuit Court can order an evaluation,” Link said. “On the municipal level, the court can choose to deny bond, subject to an appeal to the Circuit Court. 

“I am going to deny bond, subject to an appeal to the Circuit Court judge who will hear the case.”

Link set $10,000 bond for the malicious injury charge, but the attempted murder bond denial takes precedence. Payton will not be released from the Johnson Detention Center unless a Circuit Court judge orders his release or transfer.

Payton did not have any questions for Link. His initial appearance in criminal court was set for Oct. 3.

His sister hugged him. “He meant to hurt himself,” she told Link.

“On behalf of Bailey Manor, myself and our board, we feel Mr. Payton is a threat to others, as proven, and himself,” Stanley said. “We want him to go somewhere he can get psychiatric treatment and help. We cared for him. We want to see that happen instead of jail.”

Link recommended the Clinton Department of Public Safety and the Solicitor’s Office consult on a psychiatric evaluation for Payton as soon as possible.


Suspect arrested for ramming, causing fire at Bailey Manor


By Vic MacDonald

Staff Writer


An 84-year-old resident of Bailey Manor Christian Retirement Community allegedly used his car as an attempted murder weapon last Wednesday, authorities say.

Alton Payton, of 300 Jacobs Hwy #230, Clinton - the address for Bailey Manor - was treated at Laurens County Memorial Hospital and arrested last Wednesday night.

He is in custody at the Johnson Detention Center. His granddaughter posted on the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page that “he is a mentally ill man.”

A U.S. military veteran, Payton also is charged with malicious injury to property. As he aimed his vehicle through two brick pillars holding up the breezeway at Bailey Manor, the facility’s administrator Rita Stanley tried to wave him off.

She narrowly avoided being run over. 

“Lord help us,” was Stanley’s first thought.

No life-threatening injuries were reported after Payton allegedly rammed his car through two glass doors and drove about 30 feet into the front hallway. Payton was rescued from his car by a firefighter.

Residents evacuated, Stanley said, in eight minutes. Most were in the facility’s dining room having an auction with play money. Some residents and staff evacuated out the back door.

Staff members of NHC Clinton, next door to Bailey Manor on the Jacobs Hwy, came running. A group ran to the rear of the building, others comforted evacuees assembled under a tree in the Bailey Manor front parking lot.

The front lot filled rapidly with first response vehicles.

“The staff did an outstanding job. My hat’s off to the staff,” Clinton Department of Public Safety Director Robin Morse said.

“Clinton Department of Public Safety responded to a fire call at Bailey Manor,” Clinton City Manager Frank Stovall said. “Clinton, Laurens County fire, Laurens County EMS and the Sheriff’s Office responded - it was a vehicle vs building impact and fire.”

A CNNGA crew shut off natural gas to the building. Offers of help for the Bailey Manor staff came from the Clinton Family YMCA, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Hospice of Laurens County, District 56 bus transportation for residents, and Hospice of Laurens County.

A drinking water shuttle was set up for firefighters, and Laurens County Emergency Management set up a tent, staying on the scene until well after dark.

The incident happened about 3:30 p.m. Clinton DPS firefighters had just gotten back to their North Broad Street station from fighting a tree fire, Morse said.

In all, eight people were transported to Laurens County Memorial Hospital. Payton was not seriously hurt, as he was pulled from his vehicle before it ignited. Residents and staff members were treated for smoke inhalation, and Morse said first reports were some might have had throat inflammation.

No firefighters injuries were reported.

“All residents were safely evacuated by the staff and DPS,” Stovall said.

Morse said after the first was extinguished and black smoke began to clear, the Bailey Manor residents would not occupy their building that night.

The residents were moved to NHC Clinton. They were assembled in the facility’s main dining room, offices were made available to the Bailey Manor staff.

The residents were placed with family members, and at NHC Clinton and the Presbyterian Community South Carolina in Clinton.

Westminster Presbyterian Church on Hwy 56 was on alert as a shelter site. Westminster’s pastor Rev. Jim Roberts is a member of the Bailey Manor board.

Clinton Family YMCA space was offered by executive director Gene Simmons. The Y is about 200 yard crossing nearby Springdale Drive from Bailey Manor.

The facility is less than 100 yards from the City of Clinton’s western fire substation.

Morse said the first order of business after the fire was put out was to have a structural engineer check out the building. After that was done, firefighters did a room-by-room check to verify what the Bailey Manor staff had done -- all residents were accounted for. Dogs and a bird were removed from the building to be reunited with their resident-owners. 

Bailey Manor staff late Wednesday retrieved some records, including a computer hard drive, and the first stages of the cleanup began. The car was hauled out of the Bailey Manor lobby.

Two SLED investigators thoroughly combed the vehicle. First, they checked the engine, then the trunk, and then opened all four doors to examine the interior.

By 11 p.m. the vehicle remained sitting, burned and destroyed, in the Bailey Manor breezeway.

Since he was not seriously injured, Payton was ready at Laurens County Memorial Hospital to be sent back to Bailey Manor. That request was denied, and he was arrested, detained at the Clinton DPS, and booked at the Johnson Detention Center.

Records there show Payton faces one warrant each for attempted murder and malicious injury.

In a Facebook post early Thursday morning, Stanley wrote, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart to our Clinton Fire, Police, City officials and our wonderful neighbors in Clinton and Laurens. NHC Clinton, Presbyterian home and Agape for all their help, patience and kindness shown to the residents and staff at Bailey Manor! And many more. God is so good! Everyone out in less than 8 minutes! Please keep us in your prayers for the days and weeks ahead! Especially for my family of residents.”

Also early Thursday, looking ahead to temporary relocation, Bailey Manor Activities Director Joe Reiland posted, “Well, today starts an infathomable part of life's journey, never in a million years could I have imagined the horror from yesterday, saw God’s mighty hand as all of our residents got out. Please keep us all in prayers.”





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