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Man sought for questioning in Antioch deaths arrested in North Dakota

Billy Varner / Phofrom Antioch police

Billy Varner / Photo from Antioch police

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Updated: November 4, 2013 2:33PM

Nearly 1,000 miles away from Antioch, where police wanted to talk to him about the suspicious deaths of his mother and girlfriend, and just over an hour from the Canadian border, Billy Varner went to a church in Williston, N.D.

But instead of praying at the 5 p.m. Saturday service at St. Joseph Catholic Church, “He walked in with a shotgun during the mass,” Antioch Police Chief Craig Somerville said.

“The parishioners in the church chased him out and gave a good description,” Somerville said at a news conference Sunday evening.

“The suspect fled the scene and several churchgoers followed and it ended without incident,” he said.

Williams County Sheriff’s officers captured Varner, 54, and when they ran his name, they found the warrant in Lake County for felony possession of a stolen vehicle and a $500,000 bond.

Lake County Major Crime Task Force officers went to the area in North Dakota, in the northwest corner of the state, to talk to Varner and begin the process of extradition proceedings. Varner could fight extradition. He also will face charges in North Dakota.

Varner is wanted for questioning in connection with the deaths of two women who were found Oct. 28 after police were called to their basement apartment at 1221 Main St. in Antioch. Varner’s mother, Dorothy Varner, 82, and Peggy A. Henderson, 61, who had a relationship with Varner, were found inside.

Police and the Lake County Corner’s Office have not released information on how they died but continued to call their deaths “suspicious.”

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