From left: Mary Katherine Higdon and Steve Freeman
August 07, 2018 03:41 PM

A 24-year-old former preschool aide is facing a murder charge in Georgia, where authorities accused her of killing her high school sweetheart last week, PEOPLE confirms.

Online records show Mary Katherine Higdon is being held without bond on single counts of murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime in connection with the Aug. 1 death of Steven Andrew Freeman, her 23-year-old boyfriend. She was arrested that same day.

Investigators allege that Higdon fatally shot Freeman once in the chest inside their residence in Griffin, about an hour south of Atlanta.

Higdon initially told police the shooting was an accident, court records allege: She said the gun discharged as she was handing it to Freeman and that she never kept the weapon loaded. But authorities disagreed with her version of events.

Freeman was transported to the nearest hospital where he was declared dead.

Higdon has worked as a part-time preschool teacher’s assistant at St. George’s Episcopal School in Milner, though the school reportedly said she is not teaching now.

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Mary Katherine Higdon
Spalding County Sheriff's Office

Investigators have not discussed a possible motive in the case. However, Jeanette Head, who lives next door to the couple, told local TV station WSB they had argued at times before Freeman died.

Police previously responded to a domestic disturbance call at their home, according to the station.

Head told WSB she saw Higdon on her porch “with the police officers” on Wednesday night “and she said, she was crying, ‘I didn’t mean to do it. I didn’t mean to do it.’ “

The victim’s uncle, Judge Josh Thacker, told WSB that the couple started dating in high school and had been together for seven years.

“The word ‘devastation’ doesn’t begin to cover it,” Thacker said. “It’s hard to get through a couple of minutes without crying.”

“We’ve lost two people in this,” he said. “We’ve lost Steven, but obviously our relationship will be changed with Mary Katherine and my heart goes out to the Higdon family because they are doing the same thing.”

Higdon has not entered pleas to the charges against her, and PEOPLE could not determine if she has retained legal counsel who could comment on her behalf.

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