In Greenville, South Carolina, law enforcement say they've found a tragic end to an already grisly homicide situation involving two women and two children.
Investigators say that Jessica Edens, 36, had recently been involved in a bitter custody dispute over one of the children she had with her estranged husband, Ben Edens, and the day before the deaths, she told a police officer that her husband had was having an affair.
The officer at the time reported that Jessica Edens did not exhibit any erratic behavior during that encounter, but weeks before that, Edens had also then been reported for harassing text messages, calls and online posts by 28-year-old Meredith Rahme.
Police say that Jessica Edens shot Rahme to death in a car about 5 PM Thursday, causing police to endure a manhunt to find her. Rahme had reportedly called the police twice previously about Jessica Edens’ threatening messages.
Ben Edens also reported to police on Wednesday that he received a series of disturbing text messages from his estranged wife and asked authorities to check on their daughter. That’s when police went to the home, and Jessica Edens alleged the affair to the officer.
The officer who went to the home found the family planning to eat popcorn and watch a movie, and said that everything seemed fine other than a distraught woman upset over her husband's affair. One of the children was speaking to the husband on the telephone while the officer was there, according to the police report.
The officer then asked Jessica Edens if there was any chance she would consider getting back with her husband, and she said, instead, that she was going to fight him for custody and expose his yearlong affair in court, the police report said.
The woman accused of having the affair, Rahme, worked with Jessica Edens’ husband. He refused to give any other details about their private relationship.
Law enforcement said their authorities had no indication that Jessica Edens was planning any type of shooting violence before the murder.
The very next day, Rahme, the woman Edens husband was accused an having an affair with, was found shot and killed.
“There is some indication that about the time of the custody decision that Jessica Edens had some sense of inflicting violence either on the children or on herself or both. But that wasn’t discovered until after she was discovered last night,” Greenville Police Chief Ken Miller said Friday.
Police in the nearby community of Easley say they approached a running Jeep with their caution lights, and inside they then found Jessica Edens, along with her two children 9-year-old Hayden King, and 5-year-old Harper Edens, were all dead and shot and killed by a .40 caliber pistol.
The Pickens County School District released a public statement about the deaths of the children, saying the district was “shaken” and that their longstanding “prayers and condolences go out to their family, their friends, their classmates, and our educators who were touched by their lives.”
The school revealed their intentions to hold a candlelight vigil in memorial of those who lost their lives.
Jessica Edens' sister-in-law also released a statement.
“Jessica was an amazing woman and mother. When you hurt as much as she was, people tend to make irrational decisions,” she said. “There’s no excuse, and this horrific tragedy can never be justified. They will all be missed dearly.”
She added, "It’s been complete and utter shock and disbelief. I’m hoping every minute that I will wake up, and it will all be a nightmare. You never think this type of thing will happen in your family. It’s just horrible.”
The children's father has yet to speak out publicly on the matter, and it's likely he's suffering severe emotional trauma at this time. A very brutal end to a situation where a woman suffering from depression formed a mental illness that led to the horrific murder of another woman and her two children before then taking her own life.