Ex-husband in custody after mother and her daughter found gunned down in S. Ind

James "Darrell" Sowder (source: Jennings County Jail)
James "Darrell" Sowder (source: Jennings County Jail)
The home where the shooting occurred.
The home where the shooting occurred.
Candice Ray and Regina Johnson
Candice Ray and Regina Johnson

NORTH VERNON, IN (WAVE) – A southern Indiana man is behind bars after investigators said he shot and killed his ex-wife and also shot her daughter. It happened Sunday night in Jennings County in North Vernon.

James "Darrell" Sowder, 62, was picked up Sunday night in his car just feet from the crime scene. He is currently in the Jennings County Jail, charged with murder and attempted murder.

Friends said Candice Ray, 64, and her daughter Regina Johnson, 42, were as close as they could be. They lived together in a home on Chatsworth Lane in North Vernon.

The Jennings County Sheriff's Office said just before 9 p.m., Ray's ex-husband, Sowder, came to their home, gun in hand.

Mary Finley, who lives nearby, said she heard the first gunshot, but didn't think much of it, since they are used to hearing hunters in the area.

"My husband gets up and goes out on the porch and looks out and comes running in to me and says get the kids to the back bedroom, there is possibly going to be a shoot out, out here," said Finley.

When deputies arrived, they discovered Ray dead on the front porch with a gunshot wound to the head. Inside the home, they found Johnson, also shot in the head, but alive. She was rushed to an Indianapolis hospital.

Moments later investigators said they spotted Sowder in the neighborhood attempting to drive away. They were able to pull him over and found a handgun on the passenger seat. As neighbors watched, investigators got him to the ground.

"He was laying face down on the ground in front of his vehicle," said Finley.

Friends and family said while Ray and Sowder had a rocky relationship, they never expected it would take a deadly turn.

"I've seen him driving by several times and it is my understanding that one day they would be getting along fine and the next day they would be fighting," said Finley. "It just depended on both of their moods."

Finley said she just feels for the victims' loved ones, hoping they will be able to get through this tragedy.

"My thoughts are with them," said Finley.

WAVE 3 spoke with Johnson's son who said the bullet grazed his mother's head. While her skull is fractured, she is doing well and expected to make a full recovery.

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