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N.D. church robbed at gunpoint, man arrested wanted in Ill. homicides

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By Amy Dalrymple

Forum News Service

RAY, N.D. – A man wanted for questioning in the deaths of his wife and mother has been arrested after he allegedly robbed at gunpoint about 20 people attending Saturday evening Mass at the Catholic church in Ray.

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The Williams County Sheriff’s Office said today it received multiple 911 calls at 7:21 p.m. Saturday from members of the Church of St. Michael.

After receiving an undisclosed amount of money, the man drove off and was located by Williams County deputies on U.S. Highway 2, 13 miles from Williston in northwest North Dakota.

After a short vehicle pursuit, a man later identified as 54-year-old Billy Varner of Illinois was apprehended.

Varner is wanted for questioning in connection with two deaths in Illinois, according to the Williams County Sheriff’s Office.

No one was hurt during the robbery, authorities said.

Varner has been the subject of a manhunt in Illinois, wanted for questioning in connection with the deaths of his wife and mother in Antioch, Ill., according to the Antioch Police Department.

On Oct. 28, 61-year-old Peggy Henderson and 82-year-old Dorothy Varner were found dead in their Antioch apartment, authorities said.

Varner, who also lived at the apartment, has not been named a suspect in the case, but is wanted for questioning because he may have been the last person to have seen the victims alive, said a news release from the Antioch Police Department.

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Forum News Service
The Forum Communications News Service is the premier news wire service covering the Upper Midwest, stretching from the oilfields of western North Dakota to the plains of South Dakota and to the shores of eastern Minnesota. For more information about the services we offer or to discuss content subscriptions, please contact us.
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