Man Questioned in Antioch Deaths After Arrest in North Dakota

By Staff Report
|  Monday, Nov 4, 2013  |  Updated 12:37 PM CDT
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Police Search for Suspect in Antioch 'Suspicious Death' Case

Williams County Sheriff’s Office

Billy Eugene Varner

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Search Continues For Suspect in Antioch Deaths

The deaths of two elderly women has neighbors rattled. Christian Farr reports.

Police Search for Suspect in Antioch 'Suspicious Death' Case

A manhunt continued in north suburban Antioch late Monday in connection with what police called a "suspicious death" case.
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An Illinois man wanted for questioning in the suspicious deaths of his wife and mother was arrested on suspicion of using a shotgun to rob parishioners at a northwestern North Dakota church during an evening Mass.

Billy Varner, 54, was arrested Saturday night near Williston, N.D., about 1,000 miles from his home in Antioch, where the bodies of his wife, Peggy Henderson, 61, and his mother, Dorothy Varner, 82, were discovered Oct. 28.

Antioch Police said at a news conference Sunday that deputies with the Williams County Sheriff Office responded to a call of a man armed with a shotgun committing a robbery in a Roman Catholic Church during a mass late Saturday afternoon.

Major Crimes Task Force was investigating the incident in North Dakota. Varner was described as a "dangerous subject," police said Sunday.

Authorities gave no details last week on the deaths but warned residents to call 911 if they see him, according to a statement from Antioch Police.

The 82-year-old and 61-year-old women were found deceased last Monday evening inside a basement apartment in the 1200 block of Main Street. Neighbors said one of the victims was wheelchair bound.

Varner was last seen driving a 2002 tan Chevy Extended Conversion van, with Illinois license plate number N943872, police said.

"My fear is that people here won't feel safe," the victims' landlord, Nancy Kifier said. "Most of the people here are very nice. It's just tragic."

Kifier said Varner worked for her husband doing "odd jobs" and believes he lived in the apartment with his elderly mother and possible his brother

Officials were seen removing two dumpsters near the residence.

Neighbor Felicia Johnson has lived in the complex for a year, and she's seen Varner's nonworking van parked in the lot -- until this past weekend.

"I didn't see him personally fixing it all. All I know is on Saturday it was running, and then yesterday when this all happened, I saw it parked out in front of the building over there," Johnson said.

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