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Court Records Give Details Into Violent Death Of Vernon Woman

Last updated on Monday, August 6, 2012

(VERNON) - One victim of a double shooting tried to barricade herself in a bedroom while her mother was shot to death on the front porch of the house they shared, according to court records.

A court affidavit filed Wednesday describes the Sunday shooting that killed 64-year-old Candice Sowder and seriously injured her 42-year-old daughter, Regina Johnson. Candice Sowder's exhusband, James "Darrell" Sowder of Seymour, has been charged with a number of crimes, including murder and attempted murder.

According to eyewitness accounts in the court document, Darrell Sowder, 62, and Candice Sowder had argued frequently since their divorce several years earlier.

Darrell Sowder pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence in Jackson Circuit Court about 10 years ago.

After a day of swimming on Sunday with friends and family, Regina Johnson and her boy¬friend, John Charles, went to bed about 7:30 p.m.

As they slept, Candice Sowder drove her grandson, Joshua Johnson, 24, and four others to visit one of her friends in Hayden.

While the others were gone, Charles was awakened shortly before 9 p.m. by the sound of Darrell Sowder in the bedroom hitting Regina Johnson repeatedly in the head, Charles told police.

Johnson was yelling at her former stepfather to get out when Charles grabbed a lamp and swung it at Sowder. After a struggle, Charles ordered Sowder to leave as Regina grabbed the phone to call for help.

After Sowder left, Charles and Regina Johnson locked their bedroom door and tried to barricade themselves inside with a TV stand and their own bodies.

Sowder left the house just as his ex-wife and her five passengers returned. According to witnesses, Candice Sowder saw her exhusband's vehicle in the driveway as she pulled up and saw her him walking out of the house. Candice Sowder told her grandson to get out of the vehicle and tell Darrell Sowder to leave the property. After Joshua Johnson and Candice Sowder got out of their vehicle, Johnson saw his grandmother walk up on the porch to confront her former husband.

At least two witnesses heard Darrell Sowder say "It's all over now" as he walked from the house to his SUV, grabbed a revolver and waved it in the air as he re¬turned to the porch.

According to Joshua Johnson, Darrell Sowder grabbed his ex-wife by the back of the neck. She reportedly called her ex-husband an obscene name before Sowder shot her point blank, witnesses said.

Police said the bullet went straight through the victim's head and lodged in the side of the house.

As most of the witnesses scattered for cover, one of Joshua Johnson's friends helped him call 911 on her cellphone. As he was talking to the emergency dispatcher, Sowder walked back into the house.

Inside, Charles and Regina Johnson heard the gunshot. As Charles was talking to an emergency dispatcher while blocking the bedroom door, he said he heard Sowder yelling: "I'm taking care of this ... once and for all. It's done tonight. We're ending it right here. Everybody is ... dead."

Darrell Sowder then tried to ram the door open as Charles urged police to hurry to the scene.

"I've got it cocked," he heard Sowder say from the other side of the door. "I'll shoot through this ... door, and I'll shoot you, too, John." The door shattered after it was struck about five times. The buckled wood separated the couple, and Regina Johnson found herself be¬tween the bed and a wall.

Charles told police that he was trying to grab Sowder when Johnson was shot in the head.

After she collapsed, Charles said he saw the blood and thought she was already dead. He said he focused his attention on his girlfriend, no longer caring what might happen to him.

Within a minute after Johnson was shot, emergency personnel arrived. Sowder told Charles he'd be back and that the police couldn't get him, Charles said. Then, Sowder fled the house.

Sowder was apprehended as he tried to drive away on a nearby street.

Rescue workers said Regina Johnson was conscious and talked to investigators despite her head wound.

Court records indicate she was flown to an Indianapolis hospital for treatment. As of Thursday, a report on her condition remains unavailable.

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