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Trial Delayed In Brutal Double Murder In Antioch

Billy Varner (Lake County Jail booking photo)

Billy Varner (Lake County Jail booking photo)

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WAUKEGAN, Ill. (STMW) – A significant delay in the trial date of an Antioch man charged in the double homicide of his wife and mother last fall was granted Tuesday after his attorney requested more time to investigate the case.

Billy Varner, 55, is charged with first-degree murder for allegedly killing his wife with a machete and then suffocating his mother last October.

Noting that Varner’s trial was set for May 27, defense attorney Thomas Meyers told Judge Mark Levitt that “our office is still working on an investigation (into the case) and we don’t expect information in the next two weeks.”

With no objection from prosecutors, Levitt rescheduled Varner’s trial to Sept. 8, and set a June 23 pretrial date.

Varner stood shackled and silent through the brief proceedings. He has pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of first-degree murder and concealing a homicide in the case.

According to police and prosecutors, Varner killed his wife, Peggy Henderson, 61, with a machete in her bedroom in an Antioch apartment on Oct. 26, and then suffocated his mother, 82-year-old Dorothy Varner, with a plastic bag while she played solitaire on Oct. 28.

He said that he killed his wife because she was suffering from a chronic disease, and then killed his mother when he felt she was becoming suspicious about his wife’s disappearance, according to authorities.

Police said Varner left the area following the slayings, allegedly stealing his brother’s van and driving to North Dakota, where he was arrested after police say he barged in on a Catholic mass and robbed parishioners at gunpoint.

He was returned to Lake County and is being held in Lake County Jail without bond.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2014. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)