Two Upstate law enforcement agencies are investigating after Greenville police said a woman shot and killed another woman in the parking garage of her estranged husband's apartment complex and was later found shot to death along with her two children in a parked vehicle in Pickens County.
Investigators said Friday that the motive and connection between the two incidents appeared to have stemmed from a broken marriage and ongoing issues connected with the break-up.
THE SPREE BEGAN IN GREENVILLE
Greenville police said they began investigating just after 5 p.m. Thursday after receiving reports of gunfire in the 600 block of North Main Street. Police confirmed the shooting occurred in the parking deck for Main and Stone Apartments.
Just before 5:40 p.m., officers confirmed one person was deceased at the scene. Police Chief Ken Miller with the Greenville Police Department later confirmed that the victim was a woman who'd been shot to death inside a vehicle on the third floor of apartment complex's parking garage.
The coroner identified the woman as 28-year-old Meredith Leigh Rahme of Greenville. The coroner said Rahme was shot by another person as she exited her vehicle inside the parking garage and was pronounced dead at the scene due to a gunshot wound. Her manner of death was ruled a homicide.
On Friday, Chief Ken Miller named the suspect as Jessica Edens, age 36.
He said Edens is believed to have shot and killed Rahme while Rahme was in her vehicle.
Edens then left the scene in a Jeep Patriot with her two children inside. The children, age 5 and 9, were alive when they left the apartment complex.
Miller said Edens's estranged husband resided at Main + Stone. He described the relationship between Edens's estranged husband and Rahme as acquaintances.
Miller said Edens and her estranged husband were embroiled in a custody battle regarding a child they shared in common.
Miller said his officers had been called out to Main + Stone twice within three weeks of the killings in regards to harassment via text messages and social media, but the harassment did not involve threats.
Easley police said their officers were called to Edens's home the night before the killings but did not see any cause for alarm.
SUSPECT'S VEHICLE FOUND IN PICKENS COUNTY
Pickens County deputies responded to Greenville-Pickens Speedway on Calhoun Memorial Highway in Easley, where they confirmed the suspect vehicle had been located.
Deputies said the car was locked and running when they arrived and they broke a window to gain access to a vehicle.
Inside, they found the bodies of a woman and her two children.
The woman was separated from her husband, who deputies said was the father of one of the children. deputies said the broken marriage was the motive for the violence in Greenville and in Pickens County.
Deputies said all three victims had been shot in the head.
Deputies found a .40 caliber handgun in the car with the victims.
The coroner confirmed Friday that Jessica Edens and her two children, Harper Edens, age 5, and Hayden King, age 9, as the deceased.
Funeral services for King were held Monday at 3 p.m. at Sullivan-King Mortuary Chapel. The family received friends from 1 to 3 p.m. for both King and Jessica Edens. A funeral for Jessica Edens will be held at a later date.
Funeral services for Harper Edens will be held at Dillard Memorial Funeral Home at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
STATEMENT FROM PICKENS COUNTY SCHOOLS
Pickens County Schools released a statement on Friday after the coroner named Hayden King as one of the victims.
King attended Forest Acres elementary school.
Our district is shaken by the death of two children and a parent in the Forest Acres school community. Hayden King was a rising fourth grader at Forest Acres Elementary School, and his sister, Harper Edens, was enrolled to begin kindergarten this fall. Our prayers and condolences go out to their family, their friends, their classmates, and our educators who were touched by their lives.
At this time, plans for a vigil or memorial involving the school community have not been arranged. We will work with the school to communicate information if and when such an event is planned.
Forest Acres Elementary's principal and two of Hayden King's teachers have allowed me to share their thoughts with the media. Their statements are included below:
"We are deeply saddened to hear of the tragic incident that took the life of one of our students. Hayden always had a smile for his teachers and friends. He will be remembered as a happy, caring child who was full of joy. We were looking forward to serving his younger sister, Harper, in Kindergarten in August. Please continue to pray for the families impacted as well as students and staff of Forest Acres." -- Darian Byrd, Forest Acres Elementary Principal
"Hayden was a sweet child who had a bright smile that lit up the room. He was a hardworking and an inquisitive student who always wanted to do his best. He gave 100% every day. He will be deeply missed." -- Cindi Fogle, Third Grade Teacher
"Hayden was a hard-working, caring student who loved others. He always went out of his way to help his classmates in their time of need. He impacted my life greatly as his teacher, and he will be deeply missed." -- Kelleigh Barner, Second Grade Teacher
-John Eby, spokesman for Pickens County School District
STATEMENTS FROM MAIN + STONE
Main + Stone released the following statement after the shooting that took place in their parking lot:
While we do not yet have any details, we can confirm that there has been a shooting. Our first priority is the safety of our residents, so we are actively partnering with local law enforcement on the situation and will continue to release information as it becomes available.
On Friday, Main + Stone released an updated statement:
"The Main and Stone family is heartbroken at the tragic loss of one of our residents. We wish to thank all of our residents, our retail tenants, the Greenville City Police and the Greenville community for the outpouring of support throughout last night’s sad chain of events. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of our resident, as well the three additional victims who perished in Pickens County. The Greenville City Police arrived on the scene, acted swiftly and communicated thoroughly to ensure residents' safety. We are truly grateful for their efforts and for performing their duties with compassion."
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