A South Carolina mother killed the woman she believed was her estranged husband’s girlfriend, then fled the scene and fatally shot her own young children and herself in a gas station parking lot amid a messy divorce and custody dispute, police say.
Jessica Edens, 36, shot and killed Meredith Leigh Rahme, 28, Thursday in her car at her Greenville, South Carolina, apartment complex, Police Chief Ken Miller said at a press conference.
A short time later, Edens was found dead seven miles away in her black Jeep in the parking lot of a Speedway gas station in Pickens, South Carolina. Her 5-year-old daughter Harper Edens and 9-year-old son Hayden King were also found dead in the car. All three had been shot with a .40-caliber pistol, police said.
Rahme lived in the same apartment complex as Edens’ estranged husband Ben Edens and the two also worked together, according to authorities.
“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,” Miller said.
Ben and Jessica Edens shared daughter Harper. Hayden was Jessica’s son from a previous relationship.
The night before Jessica Edens killed her two children, Ben Edens called police and asked them to check on the kids after he received a series of text messages from her, Easly, South Carolina, police told WSPA-TV.
Ben Edens asked the officer whether he could use the text messages as part of his ongoing family court dispute with Jessica Edens. When officers arrived at Jessica’s home, they found the two children watching a movie and eating popcorn. However, Jessica told police that she was going “expose” her estranged husband and “the girl he was having an affair with for the last year,” authorities told WSPA.
Police said Jessica Edens showed no signs of erratic or concerning behavior on Wednesday night.
WLOS-TV reports that police were called multiple times as part of the ongoing dispute between Jessica and Ben Edens – including about text messages and online messages made by Jessica Edens. WLOS also reported that there was a post on the site homewrecker.com that featured a picture of Rahme.
Both Ben Edens and Leigh Rahme had separated from their spouses within the last six months, police said.