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Upstate authorities release names, more information in homicide investigation

FILE - Law enforcement officers investigate the scene of a shooting death on the third floor of a parking garage on the corner of Main and Stone on Thursday, July 13, 2017. (Photo: JOSH MORGAN/Greenville News)

In a press conference Friday afternoon, authorities confirmed the bodies of two children and a woman found in a parking garage at the Greenville Pickens Speedway late Thursday afternoon are connected to a deadly Greenville shooting earlier that day.

The Pickens County coroner, Kandy C. Kelley, confirms Jessica Edens, 36, Harper Edens, 5, and Hayden King, 9, were all found dead from gunshot wounds to the head.

The three were found in a black Jeep that had been reported from the Greenville City Police Department after a dead woman was found shot in her vehicle in a downtown parking garage.

A witness provided the description of the suspect vehicle to Greenville Police, including a license plate number that provided additional leads linking it back to Pickens County.

RELATED LINK | In Greenville shooting deaths, police ID woman found dead in parking garage

As law enforcement agencies within Pickens County searched various locations for the vehicle, the sheriff’s office received information from a passing motorist that a dark-colored SUV matching the description was backed up to a chain link fence at the Greenville Pickens Speedway.

Pickens County Sheriff’s deputies arrived on the scene just before 7 p.m. and as they approached the Jeep, they saw a woman and two small children inside. All three were unresponsive.

All three occupants were determined to be dead at the scene with wounds that were visually consistent with gunshots. A .40 caliber, semi-automatic handgun was recovered from inside the Jeep.

As the investigation continued throughout most of the night, it was determined that Jessica Edens is the mother of the two children, The children have different biological fathers.

The woman was currently separated from her husband, who is the father of one of the two children.

The investigation so far supports the theory that the motive and connection between the two incidents stem from a broken marriage and the subsequent domestic challenges associated with that.

In a statement from the Pickens County School District, authorities confirm Hayden King was a rising fourth grader at Forest Acres Elementary School, and his sister, Harper Edens, was enrolled to begin kindergarten this fall.

"We are deeply saddened to hear of the tragic incident that took the life of one of our students. Hayden always had a smile for his teachers and friends. He will be remembered as a happy, caring child who was full of joy. We were looking forward to serving his younger sister, Harper, in Kindergarten in August. Please continue to pray for the families impacted as well as students and staff of Forest Acres." -- Darian Byrd, Forest Acres Elementary Principal

"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." -- Cindi Fogle, third-grade teacher

"Hayden was a hard-working, caring student who loved others. He always went out of his way to help his classmates in their time of need. He impacted my life greatly as his teacher, and he will be deeply missed." -- Kelleigh Barner, second-grade teacher

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