PICKENS COUNTY — The search for a suspect in a fatal Greenville shooting came to a horrific end Thursday night in Pickens County after a vehicle was discovered at the Greenville Pickens Speedway with three bodies inside — that of the suspected shooter and her two small children.
Just after 2 p.m. Friday, the Pickens County Coroner’s Office announced that the three people were 36-year-old Jessica Edens, her son Hayden King, 9, and Harper Edens, 5, her daughter. All three lived at 220 Creekside Way in Easley.
Pickens County Coroner Kandy C. Kelley said all three died from a single gunshot to the head and neck area.
A .40-caliber, semi-automatic handgun was recovered from the interior of the vehicle, Pickens County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Creed Hashe said.
“As the investigation continued throughout most of the night, it was determined that the adult female is the mother of the two deceased children whom have different biological fathers,” said Hashe. “The mother was currently separated from her husband who is the father of one of the two children.”
The incident began unfolding in the City of Greenville around 5:07 p.m. Thursday when, according to Greenville City Police, a call reporting a gunshot led police to discover a woman shot to death in her car on the third floor of a parking garage at Main Street and Stone Avenue in downtown Greenville.
The woman was identified as 28-year-old Meredith Leigh Rahme of Greenville by the Coroner’s Office.
At the time, Greenville Police Chief Ken Miller said the suspect in the shooting, also a woman, was believed to have fled the jurisdiction and they were coordinating with other law enforcement agencies to apprehend the woman and “prevent any further loss of life.”
Not quite two hours later, the vehicle, reported as a 2014 black Jeep Patriot, was found at the speedway after it was spotted by chance by a local news photographer.
“The vehicle was locked and running,” Hashe said during a press conference Thursday night on scene. “There were three people inside, all deceased.”
Pickens County School District officials stated Hayden was a rising fourth-grader at Forest Acres Elementary School and his little sister Harper was registered to begin kindergarten this fall.
“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,” said Darian Byrd, Forest Acres Elementary Principal. “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.”
Other school officials expressed similar sentiments.
“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 percent every day. He will be deeply missed,” said Cindi Fogle, third grade teacher.
Kelleigh Barner, a second-grade teacher, expressed that Hayden impacted her life as a teacher.
“Hayden was a hard-working, caring student who loved others,” Barner said. “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.”
PCSO officials stated that although the case is still under investigation, no other suspects are being sought and no other crime scenes are currently being investigated.
“The Sheriff’s Office is still collecting information and conducting interviews this afternoon. The investigation will remain open and active until further forensic testing can be completed and all interviews have been conducted,” Hashe said Friday. “The investigation thus far supports the theory that the motive and connection between the two incidents stems from the broken marriage and the subsequent domestic challenges associated with that break up.”
The Greenville victim, Rahme, was not related to the three victims found in Pickens County, he said.
“You’ve got to keep in mind that a scene as graphic and horrific as this is — as tragic as it is — there’s a lot of evidence, a lot of forensic work that has to be done,” said Hashe. “It’s a very lengthy investigation.”
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.