Jessica Edens had a thriving photography business and two beautiful children she called “precious.” Then, the young mother going through a bitter divorce snapped and, police say, killed her children, another woman, and herself.
The Easley, South Carolina mother and photographer did the unthinkable, police say: Jessica Edens is the suspect in the shooting death of Meredith Rahme, 28, a woman linked to her estranged husband. She then killed her own two children, Harper and Hayden, and herself. Harper Edens was 4; Hayden King was 9. Police believe the children were alive in the car when Rahme was murdered.
Edens left behind suicide notes, which the police have now released. You can read them below.
Edens is also accused of writing negative online messages about Rahme on a homewrecker website. Edens’ sister-in-law told WYFL4 that, although Jessica Edens was hurting, it was no excuse for what she did. The relative told the television station that the slayings were a “complete and utter shock” and “nightmare,” adding, “you never think this type of thing will happen in your family. It is just horrible.”
“Mrs. Edens developed a plan in the next couple of days that she felt would cause everlasting consequences for her husband, Benjamin Edens,” a police official said in a statement released July 26. Police say that text messages and other communications reveal that Jessica Edens was the killer of Rahme and the children.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Police Believe Edens Likely Shot Rahme in a Parking Garage Before Turning the Gun on Her Children After Writing Suicide Notes
Before killing her children and herself, Edens is suspected of tracking Rahme down at Edens’ estranged husband’s apartment complex and shooting Rahme to death. “We are confident that Jessica Edens shot and killed Meredith Rahme,” the police chief, Ken Miller, said in a news conference. Police now believe that Jessica Edens stole the gun from her parents.
Jessica Edens and her husband were separated and “there were custody issues” between them regarding Harper, the chief said. “This particular case stems from domestic related separation and subsequent conflict in that separation,” Miller said. “It’s important to remember here that there are families and fathers who have lost young children to the senseless violence.”
The police chief said in a news conference that police received a report of a gunshot victim on the third floor of a parking deck at a high-rise, fairly new apartment community. Officers responded and they found Rahme in the driver’s side seat of a white Honda. She was deceased from a gunshot wound to the head. A 40-caliber handgun was used in the murder.
A witness observed the suspect vehicle leaving and, from that witness statement, and statements from the estranged husband of Jessica Edens, police were able to identify the suspect in the shooting as Jessica Edens. Edens’ estranged husband lived in the apartment community, the police chief said in a news conference.
The chief said he believed that the two children were alive in the vehicle when Rahme was killed.
The vehicle description led police to Edens’ jeep, which was parked against a chain-link fence at the Greenville-Pickens Speedway. Police revealed that Jessica Edens made phone calls to her estranged husband during the rampage.
Edens ended her own life and those of Harper and Hayden in the jeep. “The Jeep was backed up against a chain link fence. The doors were locked, and the engine was running when deputies arrived and saw three unresponsive people inside,” reported Greenville Online. “Each had been shot once near the head or neck area.”
Neighbor Diane Lloyd, who was a neighbor of Edens’, told WLOS-TV she kept thinking about what the children’s last moments were like: “My god, what would you say to them, you know, before you were going to kill them. I just — it breaks my heart.”
The suicide note to Edens’ parents and sister read, “To my parents and my sister, I am so sorry for the pain I am causing all of you. You’ve all always been there for me and I love you all so much. I know what I have done is selfish, but I cannot live with this pain any longer. I just cannot handle it. It is too much. It hurts too much. I will no longer be in pain and my children will no longer hurt either. I am so sorry. I love you all.”
She wrote the father of her son: “To Nate, I don’t know what to say. You gave me my first child. I will forever be greatful (sic) because of you. I never meant to cause you as much pain as this. I am sorry.”
To her estranged husband, her words were angry: “To Ben, you have caused me more pain than I’ve ever been in my life. You have caused my children pain. I hate you. I hope you rot one day for what you have done to me and my kids. You can no longer hurt us. We are at peace. I hope you live with pain and shame and guilt for the rest of your life.”
2. Edens Wanted to be a ‘Stay at Home Working Mom’ & Described Her Children as ‘Precious’ on the Website
The website for Edens’ photography business is still up. On it, she describes herself as “a Greenville, SC based photographer, a mother of two precious children, and a wife to the most wonderful man.”
Edens said on the website that her “passion for photography” started at a very young age.
“I was always that friend who had a camera on her 24/7! It didn’t hit me until I became a mom for the second time that I wanted to turn my passion for photography into a career,” she wrote.
She decided that she wanted to become a “stay at home working mom.”
“It was then I rediscovered my love for everything photography related. Becoming a photographer is something I’ve dreamed of, really I always just envisioned it but never did I think I would be where I am today,” she wrote. “I can’t tell you how incredibly lucky I feel to be doing something I absolutely love, it’s such an incredible feeling! I hope to have the opportunity to capture photos of your family! It would truly be an honor to give you the gift that lasts a lifetime and will be passed on for generations to come…”
3. Edens Described Her Love of Iced Starbucks & Said She Loved Being Home With Her Family
In the very personal bio on her on the photography website, Edens described her love of Starbucks and her yarn hobby.
“A few things about me: I absolutely looooooooove Starbucks Iced Coffees. I am addicted!” she wrote.
She hoarded yarn because crocheting was a hobby.
“You might can also call me a yarn hoarder!!! Yes I love yarn and love to crochet all of my newborn clients props for their sessions,” she wrote. “I am secretly a hermit because I love being home with my family! There is no place I’d rather be! But I also love to meet new people. I love people watching! I love to read books. I love to paint when I have the time.”
On LinkedIn, Edens said she had owned the photography business for three years.
4. Edens’ Husband Had Filed for Divorce & Harassing Web Posts Were Made About Rahme
Edens’ estranged husband, Benjamin Edens, was only the father of Harper. Jessica Edens was already the mother of Hayden when she met Ben in 2008. Two years later, the couple married, and they had Harper two years after that, according to Greenville Online.
This spring, the marriage ruptured, the couple separated, and Ben Edens filed for divorce.
The police chief told reporters that Benjamin Edens and Rahme knew each other from work. According to her LinkedIn page, Meredith Rahme started working for International Paper in Tennessee in 2009, and graduated from the University of Memphis with a bachelor’s degree in international business. She moved to Greenville in 2015, where she was a member of the aerial arts community.
A man who knew Rahme from that community posted, “Our hearts are with the family of Meredith Rahme, a victim in the downtown parking garage shooting last night. She was an aerial student. Sending you all love this morning. Even though others may pass in and out of our lives briefly, we are all connected and part of a community.”
Lana Falke, who knew Rahme, told Greenville Online that Rahme was “a beautiful, smart woman.”
Jessica and Ben Edens had separated in April, and Benjamin Edens had filed for divorce. There was a recent proceeding in court regarding custody, the police chief said. Both Ben Edens and Rahme had recently contacted police to express concerns about Jessica Edens, the chief said.
Edens’ estranged husband had recently called Easley, South Carolina police “to ask them to check on their daughter shortly after he received a disturbing text message from Edens and the two had been in court to discuss custody of the 5-year-old girl,” UK Daily Mail reported.
The officer who went to the home found the family “planning to eat popcorn and watch a movie. One of the children was speaking to the husband,” Daily Mail reported.
The chief said there was some indication that Edens, on or about the time of the custody decision, “had some sense for inflicting violence either on the children or on herself or both and that wasn’t discovered until after she was discovered” dead.
The police chief would only describe Rahme and Benjamin Edens as work acquaintances.
News 13 reported that it had “found a photo of a woman we believe to be victim Meredith Rahme on a site called Homewrecker.com. Underneath the photo were the words, ‘This little girl has no self-respect and no morals.'”
Chief Miller said, “Over the course of the last maybe three weeks, there were three calls to police” placed by Rahme and Ben Edens. Two were made to Greenville and one to Easley, which occurred on Tuesday, to ask the police to check on the welfare of the children.
The other two calls were about “the harassment, either text messages or phone calls and the posting of derogatory material. The victim in this case, Ms. Rahme, was interested in speaking with an officer on what her options were. So an officer called her back,” the chief said.
She was told how to file a complaint with Facebook, the chief said. He said the other call from Rahme was about “text messaging. There were no communications of any threat that would have required a police response.” He said police gave Rahme advice on how to deal with it.
“My understanding is that they worked at the same employer,” the chief said of Benjamin Edens and Rahme.
According to UK Daily Mail, the web posting also read, in part, “Remember homewrecker, that karma is a b—h, just like you. You will get what you deserve.”
5. Hayden Was Remembered for His Smile & Inquisitive Nature
Hayden attended Forest Acres Elementary School. Principal Darian Byrd told Greenville Online, “He was one of those kids who made other students want to come to school. He was going to be nice to them and smile and be friendly.”
“He was the kid you wished everybody was like.”
“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% every day. He will be deeply missed,” third grade teacher Cindi Fogle told WLOS.
Harper would have attended kindergarten this fall, reports WLOS.