Sister of Sodus murder victim: “We always suspected her… because of the custody battle”

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SODUS, NY (WROC) – Charlene Childers, the woman facing charges connected to the deadly shooting of her ex-boyfriend and his girlfriend in Sodus, appeared in court Thursday morning.

Childers was set to appear for a preliminary hearing on charges of conspiracy and criminal possession of a weapon connected to the murders. However, we’re told the hearing has been waived to a grand jury, which is the typical process in cases like this.

The charges will now be presented to the grand jury, who will decide if prosecutors can move forward.

Deputies say Childers and her husband Timothy Dean planned the murder of 28-year-old Joshua Niles and 24-year-old Amber Washburn. On October 22, deputies say Dean opened fire on Carlton Street in Sodus, killing Niles and Washburn, before taking off on foot.

Investigators say a custody dispute between Niles and Childers may have been at the core of the murder. Friends told News 8 last month that Niles had just received custody of the kids when he was killed.

Wednesday, deputies announced a third person had been charged with conspiracy connected to the murders. Bron Bohlar, age 34, is charged with conspiracy. Deputies say Bohlar was a police officer at the Sunray Police Department in Texas where Dean served as police chief.

Investigators say Bohlar helped Dean rent a vehicle to drive to New York for the murder. Dean drove that car to Kansas, where he was involved in an accident, then rented another vehicle.

Childers is being held in Wayne County Jail.

This has been most difficult for the families. I spoke with Nicole Gunkel, Josh Niles’ older sister. 

“I can’t fathom why he would kill somebody he didn’t even know,” Gunkels said. “The other cop that got involved, I really just… I’m astonished. Like why would he even had followed suit? He had no merit in this at all!”

Gunkel explains that Childers lost custody of her kids to Niles in May. Gunkel says it was a heated custody battle. However, she adds, she never thought her brother and Amber Washburn, would lose their lives over it. 

“Her [Charlene] doing what she did to my brother is just so shocking.. because he would never kept her kids from her ever,” stated Gunkel. “I hope she gets life in prison.”

A GoFundMe campaign has been started by Amber Washburn’s sister to help Washburn’s four-year-old son Josh Jr. and her parents after the tragedy.

Amber’s sister writes that Josh Jr. has autism and is nonverbal. He’s been put in the custody of Amber’s parents who need help to care for the child.

You can click here for the fundraiser.

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