“He took my family:” Ex says cop-shooting suspect killed her mother, daughter

Haley McHam

KTHV

DARDANELLE, Ark. -- An Arkansas man is accused of killing a sheriff's deputy Thursday, then holding his ex-girlfriend hostage and killing the woman's mother and teen daughter, reports CBS affiliate KTHV.

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 west of Little Rock.

The Millers were the mother and daughter of Bowden's ex-girlfriend, 31-year-old Haley McHam, McHam told the station. McHam said Bowden became enraged because she didn't want to date him anymore.

"He shot my mother four times and then my daughter once in the chest and he came in and told me it was my fault," McHam told the station, crying. "He said if I had come home they would still be alive and that I was going to have to live with it."

McHam said Bowden held her hostage and she was finally able to escape after he took several pain pills, got drowsy, and then went to the garage to get some food. She said she didn't expect Bowden to become violent towards her family and urged other women to leave abusive relationships.

"I never thought he would've came and killed my baby and my mother," McHam said. "There's been times I was scared he was going to kill me, I thought he would only kill me but he didn't. He took bigger pieces, he took my family."

McHam recalled her daughter Ciara as a sweet, caring girl who was preparing to graduate high school. She said her mother was a strong woman who loved her family and died trying to protect her from Bowden.

"All she ever wanted was for me to get away from him and listen, and now it's too late," McHam said.

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Lieutenant Kevin C. Mainhart

West Memphis Fire Department via KTHV

Bowden's sister, Julie Inmon, told the Associated Press her brother has taken anti-psychotic medication and anti-depressants for his mental illness. The authorities haven't confirmed that. State police declined to say how the Millers and McHam were related.

Inmon 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.

Lt. Kevin 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.

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James Bowden

KTVH

Bowden was ordered jailed without bond Monday after entering a not-guilty plea on three charges of capital murder.

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.