Updated: November 01, 2019 11:59 PM
Created: November 01, 2019 07:50 AM
SODUS, N.Y. (WHEC) — Two murders. Three suspects. One mastermind.
News10NBC is taking you inside the evidence of the double murder in Sodus. In part one of our series, we focus on the one who admitted to planning it all: Charlene Childers.
"What I did was wrong, and I regret it every single day," Childers said at her sentencing this past June.
She's the young woman who went from grieving mother to murder suspect in a crime that shocked our community.
"I am truly sorry," Childers told the courtroom. "If I could take it all back I would in a heartbeat."
"She came across as a sweet southern belle with a southern charm accent," Wayne County Sheriff's Lt. Robert Milby said.
From law enforcement to prosecutors, they say Childers is anything but sweet.
"Charlene is definitely chilling," Wayne County Assistant District Attorney Christine Callanan said.
Wayne County District Attorney Michael Calarco described Childers as, "extremely manipulative, very cunning."
It was this mother of three who was so angry she lost custody of her children that she turned to plotting a murder.
It all went down on Oct. 22, 2018, on Carlton Street in the Village of Sodus. Josh Niles, the father of two of Childers' children was shot and killed along with his fiancé, Amber Washburn.
"Whoever did it has made it so that my kids grow up without a dad, and that's nothing a kid should ever have to do," Childers told News10NBC at a vigil just days after the murders. "Justice needs to be served. My kids need that closure."
"She was still pushing forward this story that she had nothing to do with it. That she was this mourning ex-girlfriend, mother of his children, but little did she know we had already been putting a case together against her, and she was a primary suspect," Callanan said.
Within a week of the murders, Childers would be arrested. News10NBC obtained a video of Childers being questioned by detectives.
Detective: Did you have anything to do with Tim shooting Josh and Amber?
Detective: Did you put Tim up to it?
A little background here. Childers and Tim Dean were married and living in Texas. They had shared custody of Childers' two kids with
Niles until August 2018. That's when Niles was granted custody after Dean was arrested for child abuse of his own three-year-old daughter.
Dean also lost his job as chief of police in Sunray, Texas. Childers was devastated.
"Charlene voiced her opinion to Tim that Josh had to go," Milby said. "That's when the plan started."
That's something Childers initially denied when questioned by detectives.
Detective: When you heard about it what happened? What went through your mind?
Charlene: I fell to my knees, and I started bawling my eyes out. That's still the father of my damn kids and now he's gone. And then the woman that stepped up and was a great mom to my kids is gone too.
However, after hours in an interrogation room she cracked.
"She eventually admitted being part of the planning and wanting Josh Niles killed," Callanan said.
Charlene: Me and Tim talked about it. Yeah. Ok. [Expletive] shoot him. Just shoot him. Did I actually [expletive] mean it? No.
Detective: What did Tim say?
Charlene: He's like oh yeah. I'll get it done.
And he would. Dean shot Niles 10 times and killed Washburn with one shot to the head.
"We believe Charlene was the mastermind behind everything," Milby said.
So what initially tipped investigators off about Childers?
"Shortly after this happened before really it was widely known, Charlene Childers was already making phone calls up here checking on the status of the children," Calarco said.
That raised a red flag.
During her interview with detectives, Milby said, "she exhibited all the classic signs of lair, of a manipulator, and really thought she was pulling one over on the detectives that were questioning her."
Childers eventually agreed to a plea deal and testified against Dean at trial. In exchange, she got 28 years in prison.
"But if it weren't for Charlene none of this would have happened," News10NBC's Nikki Rudd said.
"That is correct," Milby said. "Charlene, I think, spent many years looking for somebody to do her bidding, and she found that person in Tim Dean."
Next week we focus on Tim Dean, the convicted killer. Find out how detectives were able to track him down as the shooter and the evidence he left behind that closed this case.
Copyright 2019 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company