Antioch man faces murder charges after robbing ND church - FOX 32 News Chicago

Antioch man faces murder charges after robbing ND church

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Billy Varner, 54. Billy Varner, 54.
CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Billy Varner has agreed not to fight extradition and will be returning today to Lake County to face multiple first-degree murder charges in connection with the deaths of his mother and girlfriend, who were found last week in Antioch.

Varner will appear in Lake County bond court Tuesday morning, said George Filinko, commander of the Lake County Major Crime Task Force. He was in custody in North Dakota, where Varner was caught Saturday after allegedly robbing a Catholic Church.

"We're bring him back today [Monday, Nov. 4] to face multiple counts of first-degree murder," he said.

Police had been looking for Varner because he was the last person known to have seen his mother, 82-year-old Dorothy Varner, and 61-year-old Peggy A. Henderson, his girlfriend, police said. Their bodies were found Oct. 28 in a basement apartment at 1221 Main St. Police called the deaths "suspicious."

Varner allegedly drove a tan Chevrolet conversion van that belonged to his brother, Jim, to North Dakota, nearly 1,000 miles away from Antioch, officials said.

Varner was arrested Saturday in Williston, N.D., after he allegedly robbed between 15 and 20 parishioners who were attending a 5 p.m. Mass at St. Michaels Catholic Church in Ray, N.D.

"The parishioners in the church chased him out and gave a good description," said Antioch Police Chief Craig Somerville at a press conference Sunday evening. "The suspect fled the scene and several churchgoers followed and it ended without incident."

Filenko said Varner got a shotgun from a car burglary in North Dakota and used that to rob the church.

"He walked in and identified himself and handed them a bag to pass around," Filenko said.

Varner allegedly fled with parishioners in pursuit.

Williams County Sheriff's officers captured Varner and the money was recovered. The van is being taken by flatbed back to Lake County.

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