West Memphis Man Charged in Attack on Dead Police Officer's Wife and Child

AUGUST 23, 2006 - Posted at 11:36 a.m. CDT, updated at 11:55 a.m. CDT, updated at 12:12 p.m. CDT, updated at 1:13 p.m. CDT

WEST MEMPHIS, AR - Police in Memphis have charged a friend of a dead West Memphis police officer with severely beating the lawman's wife and young son.

It had appeared that Officer Charles Fowler killed himself hours after Paula Fowler and 3-year-old Charles Fowler, Jr. were beaten inside their home in Memphis.  Both victims were critically injured in the attack on June 18.

Before investigators could talk to the officer, police found his body in Clarkdale, about 13 miles north of West Memphis, in Crittenden County.  Investigators said Fowler had shot himself with his service pistol.

But detectives pressed the case, because Paula Fowler said she and her son were jumped as they came home by a man in a striped shirt.  She thought her estranged husband was behind it.

The investigation led to James Edward Todd of West Memphis.  Police say Todd this week admitted striking the mother and the son with a brick.  The victims have recovered.  West Memphis police arrested Todd on Monday and turned him over to Memphis police.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)