DARDANELLE, Ark. — An Arkansas man charged in the shooting deaths of a sheriff’s deputy and two other people has a history of mental illness, his sister said Friday.
James Arthur Bowden, 42, surrendered Thursday after a five-hour standoff at a house near Dardanelle where 61-year-old Rita Miller and 17-year-old Ciera Miller were found dead, the state police said. Investigators allege that he gunned down Yell County Sheriff’s Lt. Kevin C. Mainhart during a traffic stop early that morning near the home, which is about 65 miles (105 kilometers) west of Little Rock.
Bowden’s sister, Julie Inmon, told The Associated Press that the Millers were the mother and daughter of her brother’s girlfriend, 31-year-old Haley McHam. She said she spoke to her brother by phone during the standoff and he told her he went to McHam’s mother’s home because McHam hadn’t come home to him that night.
She said her brother told her he had killed McHam’s mother and daughter and he was holding McHam hostage. Authorities say Bowden freed McHam about 30 minutes before he surrendered.
Inmon said her brother has taken anti-psychotic medication and anti-depressants for his mental illness. The authorities haven’t confirmed that and the state police declined to say how the Millers and McHam were related.
Mainhart was responding to a call about a disturbance at the home when he saw a car linked to the address and pulled it over. Authorities allege that Bowden shot and killed the deputy during the traffic stop. A passing motorist notified law enforcement, state police said.
A man identifying himself as the defendant’s father, James Bowden Sr., told KATV that the police were originally called to the home because his son and McHam had been arguing.
Bowden is jailed on three counts of capital murder, state police Director Bill Bryant said.
Mainhart was an officer in Yell County for five years and had previously worked for the West Memphis Police Department for more than twenty years, state police said in the news release.
“He was a leader not only within the department, but the community of Yell County as well. He was very respected,” Yell County Sheriff Bill Gilkey said.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge expressed their condolences to the deputy’s family and praised his decades in law enforcement.
Hutchinson ordered the Arkansas flag be flown at half-staff Friday in memory of the slain deputy.
Mainhart’s death came on the same day as the 36th annual memorial to honor fallen officers at the Arkansas
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