A veteran detective with the U.S. Marshals Service who told police he had fatally shot his wife during an argument July 4 was indicted Thursday by a Loudoun County grand jury on a charge of first-degree murder.
The grand jury also indicted a Stafford County woman on charges of child abuse in connection with a road trip July 1 to Loudoun in which she allegedly forced two of her children to take turns riding in the trunk of her rental car.
John William Ludwig, 51, told investigators that he had shot his wife, Karen Ludwig, 38, during an argument in the master bedroom of their Ashburn home. His statement was videotaped and presented at a preliminary hearing last month.
Ludwig said he had ingested so much alcohol and medication that he passed out and did not wake up until two days later, when he called 911 to report the shooting. He was arrested and is being held without bail.
Ludwig, a 17-year employee of the U.S. Marshals Service, is on unpaid leave. Once the agency receives official notification of the indictment, a disciplinary review will begin, said Donald Hines, a spokesman for the Marshals Service.
If he is found guilty, Ludwig faces a sentence of 20 years to life on the murder charge and a maximum of three years on the charge of using a firearm -- a Smith & Wesson revolver -- in the commission of a felony. His trial is set to begin Jan. 23.
Also on Thursday, Cheryl Ann Schoonmaker Brown, 38, was charged with child abuse and neglect, and cruelty and injuries to children.
Brown was driving five children and a dog from Alabama to the Aldie home of her ex-husband. During the trip, she made her 10-year-old and 8-year-old daughters take turns riding in the trunk of the Nissan Sentra rental car, prosecutors said last month.
When one of the girls worried aloud about what might happen in an accident, a prosecutor said, Brown reportedly replied, "That's what bumpers are for."
Brown faces a maximum sentence of five years on each charge. She has been free on bail in Stafford County since July 8 and is scheduled to go to trial April 26.