A woman who shot herself, her two children, and another woman earlier this month used a gun that she stole from her parents. She also sent text messages before the incident.
Jessica Edens called her estranged husband once right before she shot her daughter, 5, and her son, 9, in the back of her Jeep in Columbia, South Carolina, according to CBS News, citing Pickens County Chief Deputy Creed Hashe.
Days before the July 13 shootings, a custody dispute in a family court apparently upset her, said Hashe, citing communications and other text messages that were discovered after the killings.
“Text messages and other written content clearly indicate that Mrs. Edens developed a plan in the next couple of days that she felt would cause everlasting consequences for her husband,” Pickens County Chief Deputy Creed Hashe said in a written statement on Monday, USA Today reported.
The other woman who was found shot and killed was Meredith Rame, 28. Edens reportedly went to the apartment complex where her husband lived and shot Rame, who worked with her estranged husband.
Edens was separated from her husband, the father of one of the two children, officials said. “From what we have gathered, Jessica Edens and [Ben] were separated at time of incident, and there were custody issues regarding one of the two children, a child they have in common,” Police Chief Ken Miller said at a press conference.
Right before the homicides, Edens went to her parents’ home and took their .40 caliber handgun they owned, USA Today reported. Edens’ father, Mike Mitchell, is the chief deputy at the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office.
“That weapon, which was legally owned by the parents, is believed to be the same weapon used in the Greenville murder and the murder/suicide that subsequently occurred inside the shooter’s vehicle while parked in Pickens County,” Hashe said.
Deputies responding to Edens’ vehicle were forced to use their batons to break the driver’s side window to gain access to her Jeep.
The mother and the children were found dead at the scene.
Sheriff Rick Clark issued a statement on the matter, according to WSPA:
“As we struggle to understand how a parent could possibly come to a decision such as this, we have to focus on tomorrow and the opportunity to provide services and solutions to those that feel that their life and the lives of their loved ones must end in order to find peace.
We live in a stressful world during difficult times but there are resources that stand ready to offer help and assist you if you feel that you have no other options left in life.
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”.