The car was still locked and running when authorities arrived at the horrifying scene. Inside were Jessica Edens, her two young children, and the gun that ended four lives that day.
As Fox Carolina reports, the 36-year-old mother from Pickens, South Carolina, had been upset over an ongoing custody battle with her estranged husband, Benjamin. Moreover, CBS News reports that Jessica complained to a police officer that her husband had been having an affair for the past year.Screenshot/Fox Carolina
Police say that Benjamin and 28-year-old Meredith Rahme worked together and were “acquaintances” but did not give further details. In the weeks leading up to the shooting, both claimed Jessica had been harassing them online.
According to Fox Carolina, Rahme called 911 about a restraining order against Edens. She told dispatchers:
“There is someone who is angry with me who is contacting everyone I know and work with and reporting these hateful messages about me.”
Benjamin also received calls and messages from his wife, including one where she spoke of a plan to “create everlasting consequences” for him. On the evening of July 12, Benjamin called police and requested a welfare check on nine-year-old Hayden King and five-year-old Harper Edens.
Local police followed up and looked in on the children but reported that everything in the home seemed normal. But what no one knew was that earlier that day, Jessica had gone to her parents’ home and taken a .40 caliber handgun.
The following day, Jessica drove to the parking garage of the apartment building in Greenville where her husband resides. She shot Rahme in the head as Rahme was exiting her vehicle. Then Jessica drove away with her two children still in the back of her car.
Local authorities caught up with Jessica at the Greenville-Pickens Speedway, but it was too late. Jessica had shot Hayden and Harper as they sat in the rear cargo area of her Jeep. She then made one last phone call to her husband before turning the gun on herself.
When police arrived, they had to break a window to get into the locked car. The motor was still running, and there was no sign of a struggle inside.
Authorities have ruled the crime a murder-suicide. They confirm that Jessica left the parking garage shortly after Rahme was killed and believe the same gun was used in all four deaths.
After announcing their findings, Sheriff Rick Clark spoke about the senseless tragedy and how it is difficult to understand Jessica’s actions. In a statement to Fox Carolina, he urged anyone who is struggling with suicidal thoughts to get help:
Please reach out to law enforcement so that we can be the bridge to lead you to a road of recovery. In time, you will see that all things come to pass and you too can become a stronger person with hope and faith in a brighter future.
All of us need a helping hand from time to time as we walk through life and asking for help is not a sign of weakness that any of us should be ashamed of.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.