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Man charged in Antioch double murder submits to DNA test

Billy Varner / phofroim Lake County Sheriff's office

Billy Varner / photo froim Lake County Sheriff's office

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Updated: February 19, 2014 6:07AM

The defendant in a gruesome Antioch double murder has quickly complied with court-ordered DNA testing requested by prosecutors.

State’s Attorney Mike Nerheim said Friday morning that Billy Varner “immediately” submitted to a DNA swab after a Lake County Circuit Court judge on Thursday ordered the test at the request of the state’s attorney’s office.

The DNA will be used for comparison with blood samples from the apartment in which Varner is accused of killing his wife and his mother.

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 the 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.

Varner allegedly told authorities he killed his wife because she was suffering from a chronic disease, and killed his mother after he feared she was becoming suspicious.

Varner then left the the area, 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 because he is deemed to be a high flight risk.

A status hearing for Varner is scheduled Feb. 25.

His trial is currently set for May 27.

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