SODUS (AP) — Two Texas law enforcement officers and one of their wives are at the center of an investigation into a double homicide that has further rattled an upstate town already reeling from recent calamities.
Joshua Niles, 28, and Amber Washburn, 24, were fatally shot outside their home Oct. 22 in Sodus, about 25 miles east of Rochester. A neighbor said he saw someone shoot Niles in the couple’s driveway after shooting Washburn, who was sitting in her car with the 4-year-old son she had with Niles. The child was not injured.
Charlene Childers, whose husband is accused of the murders, is Niles’ ex-girlfriend and the mother of two of his other children. Friends and relatives said Niles had recently won custody of his and Childers’ 9-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son.
Police do not have evidence of Childers being in New York state on the day of the killings, but they believe her husband, 32-year-old Timothy Dean, had driven 1,400 miles from Texas to get there.
“It’s our belief that Dean pulled the trigger,” Wayne County Sheriff Barry Virts said.
Dean, the former police chief of the Texas Panhandle city of Sunray, was charged Monday with first- and second-degree murder and conspiracy in the slayings. Childers, 25, was charged with conspiracy the same day.
And on Wednesday, authorities said they arrested a third suspect at his Texas home, 34-year-old Bron Bohlar, on a warrant for conspiracy. Bohlar is an officer in Sunray.
There was no immediate information from authorities in Texas or New York on attorneys who could comment on the defendants’ behalf.
When the charges against Childers and Dean were announced Monday night, Childers was already in the Wayne County jail, and Dean was in custody in Texas on unrelated charges stemming from child-injury allegations. Both were arrested a week after the slayings.
Authorities said Childers was found with a 9mm handgun. Niles and Washburn were shot with a 9mm firearm, but the exact type isn’t known, Virts said.
Investigators were still trying to learn details of Childers’ and Dean’s travels before the shooting, but police have said they believe Childers was in Texas when it occurred, despite her attendance at a vigil for the victims held in Sodus two days after the slayings.
“We have no indication that she was in our jurisdiction on the date of the shooting,” Wayne County District Attorney Michael Caralco said.
Dean is believed to have driven the 2,800-mile roundtrip from Sunray to Sodus, Caralco said. There is no timeline yet for when Dean will be extradited to New York, he said.
Dean was head of the three-member Sunray police force from October 2016 to June 2018, resigning about a month after his arrest on a charge of injury to a child, Texas officials said. Prior to that he was a police officer in Dumas, Texas.
Photos posted on the Sunray Police Department’s Facebook page on June 26 show Bohlar being sworn in. The post says he had also worked for other local law enforcement agencies during a 10-year career, and “will make a fantastic addition to our department.” A message left for the department wasn’t returned.
The fatal double shooting was the latest blow to Sodus, a town of about 8,000 on Lake Ontario’s southern shore.
In spring 2017, it suffered damage from flooding that officials blamed on unusually heavy rains but that some lakeside residents and business owners blamed on a U.S.-Canada commission that controls water levels.
Then last November, a 17-year-old Sodus girl was stabbed to death by her 19-year-old ex-boyfriend. The next month, a 17-year-old boy from Sodus was stabbed to death by two other teens in a nearby village.
And in the spring, the body of 18-year-old Selena Hidalgo-Calderon was found on a farm in town. Hidalgo-Calderon’s 1-year-old son had been missing since her disappearance. His remains were found on the same farm in October.
Virts said at the time that Hidalgo-Calderon’s boyfriend, 26-year-old Everardo Donoteo-Reyes, admitted to burying her, but not killing her. He has been charged with evidence tampering.