Jessica Edens wanted badly to keep her family together, to be a full-time mother who could stay home and raise her children.
When it didn't happen, Edens blamed her estranged husband, according to text messages she sent to Ben Edens the night before she shot Meredith Rahme, killed her own children and then herself.
The messages, released to The Greenville News this week in response to a Freedom of Information request, portray the 36-year-old Edens as fixated on making Ben Edens regret his relationship with Rahme. The two moved in together after Ben and Jessica Edens separated in April, court records and Greenville Police Department reports said.
Authorities have since cleared the case and closed its investigation into the shootings.
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Ben Edens declined to comment on this story through his attorney, Monte Chasteen.
“This is the hardest thing for me to do," Jessica Edens wrote in a text to Ben Edens the morning of July 13. "But you have destroyed me. You continue to destroy me. You will not be able to hurt me or my kids anymore.”
"It won't matter after today," she added. "No more pain after today."
Just hours later, police said Jessica Edens shot Rahme as she was getting out of her vehicle at the Stone + Main apartments in downtown Greenville. Edens used the same Glock 27 to kill her children, Harper, 4, and Hayden, 9, before she locked the doors to her Jeep and raised the gun to her head, according to Greenville police reports.
All three were discovered dead in the SUV, which authorities say was parked with the engine running at the back of the Greenville-Pickens Speedway in Easley.
Two days before the shootings, Ben and Jessica Edens appeared in Greenville Family Court for a temporary child custody hearing in which Ben Edens was granted standard visitation rights, police said.
In an affidavit filed July 11, Ben Edens said Jessica Edens was using the children as a weapon against him and that he was forced to file for custody of Harper after Jessica Edens refused to let him see or speak to his biological daughter.
"You will have exactly what you want. No wife. No kids," she wrote in a text to Ben Edens at 11:14 a.m. on July 13.
"All you had to do was end things with (Meredith). Tried to work things out with me. But no. You made the decision to not have a family. Now you are going to have to live with that decision."
Ben Edens responded: "What do you mean 'no kids?' Are you planning to harm them? Or take them and run?"
He later told detectives that he was trying to get a restraining order on Jessica Edens because she had been showing up at the apartment complex where he and Rahme lived, according to police reports.
Police said Jessica Edens had also contacted nearly 35 of Rahme's friends and relatives about her relationship with Ben Edens and how he was still married.
On the day of the shootings, Ben Edens sent several texts to Jessica Edens demanding that she explain her comments.
"Answer the question or I am going to ask for an emergency hearing to have the kids removed from our custody.... I am dead serious Jessica."
Jessica Edens instead told her estranged husband that his "life will be better soon."
"I don't know what you mean by that. But I don't like how it sounds," Ben Edens wrote in a text.
"You need to ask for help," another text said.
The messages, sent between 9 a.m. and 2:49 p.m. on the day of the shooting, ended with Jessica Edens trying to get him to meet with her to answer some questions she had, police said in supplemental reports.
Ben Edens was apprehensive about meeting and asked if they could just talk about it or text.
"I guess I shouldn't expect anything from you," Jessica Edens wrote in one of her last texts to her estranged husband. "I have come to terms with the fact that I never meant anything to you. I'm just so tired of being in pain."
Ben Edens, meanwhile, exchanged text messages with Jessica's mother, Leslie Mitchell, explaining that he was concerned about Jessica Edens and the children.
Mitchell also declined comment when contacted Thursday morning.
The conversation between Ben Edens and Mitchell ended at 4:41 p.m. on July 13, just 20 minutes before Jessica walked across the Stone + Main parking garage and shot Rahme once in the head.
In another text to her estranged husband, Jessica Edens wrote: "You won't have to worry much longer...You are about to have no stress. No worries. You're welcome. Enjoy your life Ben."
Note: This story was written using supplemental reports provided by the Greenville Police Department. The Greenville News obtained similar records from the Pickens County Sheriff's Office on Aug. 7, and all communications between Ben and Jessica Edens had been redacted.