(James Busch and Zachary Armitage)

Two prison escapees have been charged with one count each of first degree murder, in relation to a Metchosin man’s death which occurred last year.

James Lee Busch and Zachary Armitage escaped from William Head jail last July, and have subsequently been charged in the death of 60-year-old Martin Payne, according to BC RCMP.

On July 8 of 2019, West Shore RCMP received a report that two prisoners had escaped from William Head jail located in Metchosin.

West Shore RCMP began an investigation into the prison break with the help of the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC), and James Lee Busch and Zachary Armitage were located and arrested the following day at approximately 8:00 p.m.

The arrest followed an off duty RCMP officer spotting the escapees in Esquimalt, after the pair happened to comment on the officer’s dog.

Payne’s red Ford truck had also been located by Oak Bay police the same day.

Shortly after, unrelated to the arrest of the two men, West Shore RCMP attended a residence in the 1000-block of Brookview Drive on July 12 to check the well-being of 60-year-old Martin Payne, after he failed to show up for work.

Police found Payne deceased inside his residence, and given the circumstances at the scene, criminality was suspected and the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit (VIIMCU) was called in to investigate.

After an 11 month investigation into Payne’s death, Busch and Armitage have now been charged with murder in relation to the incident.

Until now, the RCMP never confirmed the correlation between the two escaped inmates and Martin Payne’s death.

“Our condolences go out to Martin Payne’s family and friends.,” says Inspector Todd Preston, Officer in Charge of the West Shore RCMP.

“We know that this has been a very difficult time for the community and citizens of the West Shore and in particular, Metchosin. We want to thank the citizens for their patience in the investigative process”