DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. -- A judge issued a bench warrant for international jewel thief Doris Payne, after she was a no-show for a 1 p.m. arraignment on Monday.
Payne, who's been dubbed "Granny Gem Thief," has a criminal history that dates back more than 50 years and spans two continents. She was twice picked up in the metro area for two shoplifting incidents at high-end jewelry stores.
Payne had been nabbed in Atlanta October 2015 after she was caught allegedly shoplifting a pair of $700 earrings from the Saks Fifth Avenue in Phipps Plaza. She was out on bond for that case when she was arrested and charged with stealing, again, in December 2016 in Dunwoody. She allegedly tried to steal a $1,995 diamond necklace from a Von Maur jewelry store at Perimeter Mall. Payne was released on a $15,000 bond in that case and ordered not to travel outside the state of Georgia.
11Alive's Valerie Hoff was inside the courtroom when the judge issued the warrant for the 86-year-old accused jewel thief. Payne's attorney Zack Kelleher tried to tell the judge she was too sick from a recent medical procedure to come to Monday's hearing, but the judge was skeptical.
Kelleher said his client has cancer, but the documents he showed the judge didn’t include that diagnosis, they just indicated she had visited an internist back In January. After the judge threatened to have Payne arrested, he offered to go get her and bring her to court, but allegedly he wasn’t able to find her. That means she could be arrested, or the warrant could be withdrawn if she can prove she is too sick to appear in court.
Last week, her attorney also told a Fulton County judge in that she was too sick to go on trial for the Atlanta shoplifting charge. Court papers filed with the court system put her trial, scheduled to start on Feb. 21, on indefinite hold.
"The Defendant in this matter has demonstrated, by and through her counsel, that her current medical condition(s) preclude this matter from moving forward toward final resolution," reads the order signed by Deputy Chief Judge Alford J. Dempsey, Jr.
Payne's crimes have made her something of a celebrity among thieves. In fact, she was the subject of a documentary, “The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne,” now on Netflix.
In a jailhouse interview with The Desert Sun in May 2014, Payne said she began stealing watches to save her mother from an abusive relationship, but continued into her golden years so she could live a glamorous lifestyle—a far cry from her childhood of poverty in West Virginia.
TIMELINE | Doris Payne’s arrests