Out Here On My Own


We were married a year and a half, but we were together for four years. I was a loving mother and wife until Aug. 20, 2007. One that day, I became the victim of a violent, horrific crime committed by the man I loved and trusted. My husband, Chad Payne, 32, shot and killed my son, Kevin, 7, and our daughter, Chasmin, 2. Then he killed himself. I was told they were found with him cradling them in my son’s room. I was devastated.

The death of a child is like no other. I couldn’t believe God would allow this to happen. Everything that defined me was instantly gone. I no longer had any titles. I was just Monika. Immediately, I became the center of unwanted attention. People wondered why I survived. Why did I not save my children? And then the ultimate allegation: Was I actually the murderer? It was surreal.

When everything happened, I was a functioning zombie. The God most would run to, I found myself running away from. I turned my back on my family and friends who tried to comfort me because people didn’t know what to say. I filed for bankruptcy because of the debt left by my husband. It seemed to continue to get worse. My loneliness led me to excessive clubbing, drinking and meaningless relationships. There was no way I could talk about it. I would do Imageanything possible to stay busy so that I wouldn’t have to be alone with my thoughts. Body piercings and tattoos were an outlet to inflict pain upon myself. I didn’t realize this until someone told me, but whenever there was a birthday or the anniversary of the deaths, I would get a tattoo. I felt insignificant, confused and guilty about what happened. I didn’t know how to hate [my husband] for what he did because I still loved him.

My turning point was on Jan. 8, 2011, when I went to my mother’s home and found her dead in the bed with my son’s Spider-Man action figure and my daughter’s Dora doll. I had spoken to her the day before, and she was telling me how much she missed her grandchildren, and her heart was hurting from the loss. They said she died of natural causes, but she grieved so much, I thought it killed her. It was at that moment that I realized my husband had killed four people, and if I didn’t change my ways and start living again, I would be his fifth victim. I wasn’t about to let that happen.

My mother died on a Friday, and I went to church on Sunday. It was at that point that I began going out and venturing into the world. I began to travel, socialize and mend relationships with family and friends. I started sharing my story with anyone who would listen. Have I found total redemption? No. Have I gotten past the pain? Not at all. Do I believe that God placed this on me for a greater good? Yes. I truly believe my life’s purpose is to use my story to provide support and inspire others who face adversity. Every day, I’m learning something new about myself. I won’t ever get over this, but I’ll get through it one day at a time.


Nikki Payne


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About the Author | Nikki Payne

Nikki Payne is a Truthteller who has risen from the ashes of personal tragedy. It was after her mother’s passing that she realized she would be the next victim if she didn’t embrace life. She decided that she would share the story of her grief so that it might change someone else’s life for the better.

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11 comments to "Out Here On My Own"

  • Natasha

    You are a strong woman. No one should have to go through what you and your family did. I am so sorry for your unimaginable pain and in awe of your powerful ability to find meaning and purpose. May there be much light in your life.

  • Nikki, I can’t imagine the loss and pain you’ve gone through. My heart goes out to you. I know loss can either consume us or push us into a new direction. Having experienced the loss of people in my life, I agree we carry the loss with us and over time we get through the grief. Keep sharing your story and touching others’ lives in a positive way. Keep going, you’re a strong woman!

  • Nikki,

    You are a courageous, strong and beautiful woman who has allowed God to touch so many lives through your tragic, yet inspirational story. It cannot be easy but you have turned a script that does not answer the question of “why”into a script with a message that is much bigger and greater than yourself. Even though we have never met, I feel your passion to help others.

    You are remarkable! Keep pushing on! God bless!

  • Hello Nikki,
    I heard your story on the radio one morning and I could relate to what you were saying about the pain and grieving that one goes through after such a tragedy. I too lost my husband tragically during a home invasion. Due to all the allegations, I then lost my son. Not physically but mentally because he couldn’t handle all the pain of what happen and the accusations against him. He acted out and I had to get a protection order against him. He then ended up homeless. He slept in his car for 6 months. After all of the stress, my mother’s cancer that had been in remission for 14years came back. She wasnt able to fight off the cancer this time and lost the battle in 2012. I too have been in relationships that have left me hurt and feeling useless. Not only that, they’ve only arrested 1 man in my husband’s murder. There are at least 2 more people that haven’t been captured. I have often had the thoughts of not wanting to go on with life. But I know the Lord has left me here for a reason. I would like to talk with you if you’re ok with this. If so, you can contact my through my email address. Thanks.

  • hey Nikki i am so sorry for your loss you story touch me when you came to my school( Crim high school) i was the one with the burgady sweater on .i went home and thought about all the advice you gave the girl about being control in a relationship. it make me look at life different now and look for the signs in the people i date.i just want you to know keep telling your story because it really do touch people and open up our eyes about dating.I also gained advice for when your mother passed away because remember i was telling you i loss my mother at the age at 11 of drugs and aids.you taught me to spend everyday telling your love one you love them and just being around them is whats important. I am Laquovia Lee and my email is laquovial@yahoo.com if you have any questions or concerns.

  • Carol Brand

    I see that you are coming to Decatur,IL on March 27 to tell your story at Millikin University. Is there any chance you would consider coming to Decatur Correctional Center a women’s facility and speaking to the women here? We are trying to do things for Women’s History Month with no funds and your story of survival might be a real inspiration to the women here who have been through so much themselves. Please let me know if there is any way you would do this.

  • Susan Hoefer

    Nikki, your story stopped me in my tracks. I could not imagine going through it … even reading it was impossible to understand, to find any meaning. And yet, you have. Your Spirit must be huge to have taken on such a purpose in life to transmute this experience into meaning. And I do believe there is meaning , great meaning in this…. The Spirit required to find it must be deep and full … I believe Love is the most powerful force in the Universe, more powerful than the deepest suffering, more powerful than the purest fear and evil. May a million angels surround you and guide you to find your way back to Love and may your experience prove to the whole world that God and Love do exist . We are never alone.
    Much Love to you, 

  • Kavitha

    Hi Nikki,
    I just read your story and m speechless but I must say you are a wonderful courageous strong woman.Keep Going!

  • Kyra Reid

    Nikki u are stronger than any woman I know. I just want to cry and then I am just like grateful to have met such a strong smart and independent woman like you. Thank u for sharing your story, your pain and you wisdom with everyone u meet

  • Kelly

    How did you face that or anyone? How long has it been, you can tell your story with details? If I get up at any time of the day or night, or have a sip of water or juice, and the times I remember eat & it stays down, i declare a victory. I lost the youngest of my 2 boys, my baby, he was 14. It was 3 days after school ended, his first year of high school. He was playing touch football with friends at the park during the day. Wanted to try out for football next year. That night he was beaten in his bed with the covers over his head, until he lost consciousness.. brain damaged… then gone forever. Every breath I take, I do it for my sons… thats it.
    Thank you for sharing. It means so much
    To Me.