COLUMBIA, S.C. – A mother found dead in her SUV alongside the bodies of her two children had shot and killed another woman hours earlier at the South Carolina apartments where her estranged husband lived, authorities said.
Jessica Edens was involved in a custody dispute over one of the children with her husband and complained to an officer who came to her Easley home the day before the shootings that he had an affair for the past year, according to a police report.
The other women killed had reported harassing text messages and phone calls from Edens in the weeks before the shooting, Greenville Police Chief Ken Miller said Friday.
Meredith Rahme, 28, was shot in her car around 5 p.m. Thursday by Edens in downtown Greenville, Miller said at a news conference. He added that the 36-year-old shooter's 9-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter were in the back of her SUV at the time.
Two hours later, deputies found the SUV locked and running with Edens and the two children inside, each dead from a single shot to the head or neck about 7 miles (11 kilometers) away in Easley, Pickens County Chief Deputy Creed Hashe said. A .40-caliber handgun was found inside the SUV, but Hashe and the coroner have not said who fired the shots. A similar gun was used to kill Rahme, authorities said.
Rahme had called police twice less than three weeks ago to ask how she could deal with harassing text messages, phone calls and online postings from Edens, Miller said.
Edens' estranged husband had called Easley police on Wednesday 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, authorities said.
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, according to the police report.
The officer asked Edens if there was any chance she could get back with her husband and she said instead she was going to expose his yearlong affair in court, the police report said.
Rahme worked with Edens' husband, Miller said. He refused to give any other details about their relationship.
Miller said authorities had no indication Edens was planning violence before the shooting.
"There is some indication that about the time of the custody decision that she had some sense of inflicting violence either on the children or on herself or both. But that wasn't discovered until after she was discovered last night," Miller said.
Greenville investigators are trying to determine if Edens was waiting on Rahme or followed her into the parking garage under the apartments. Rahme was found dead in the driver's seat of her car, authorities said.
Miller said the tragedy of the shooting touched several families.
"It is important to remember there are fathers who have lost children to this senseless violence and our heart goes out to them," Miller said.
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This story has corrected the name of the Greenville Police chief to Ken Miller