For weeks, a married Ridgeville couple told sheriff’s deputies and journalists that they were clueless about the backyard shooting death of a 64-year-old relative.
They reiterated their astonishment this week even as deputies hauled off a loved one on a charge of shooting Jimmy C. Edwards three times in the back of the head.
Endsley Grooms said they told investigators the truth and had no idea that his wife’s son, Sonny Jones, might have been involved with the Feb. 1 slaying.
But it was what Grooms, 67, said as he and his 54-year-old wife, Mary, appeared for a bond hearing Wednesday that indicates an untold side of the story.
“I don’t know why I’m charged with murder,” Grooms said, according to the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office. “All I did was get rid of the gun.”
Arrest affidavits allege that both of the Groomses played roles in the “execution-style murder” of Edwards, a retired electrician and grandfather. Both were denied bail.
Sheriff’s officials confirmed Grooms’ statement during the bond hearing, which was overheard by the magistrate and other court personnel. But the officials declined to be identified because it has become a part of the homicide investigation.
Grooms is accused of giving Jones the .25-caliber handgun used in the slaying and of later retrieving it and getting rid of it. Sheriff’s deputies have not yet found the gun, but they plan searches this week to that end.
He told The Post and Courier before his arrest Tuesday that he had forgotten about the firearm, which had been given to him years ago.
Mary Grooms saw her son hand the gun to her husband, according to affidavits, and did nothing about it. Instead, she “proceeded to cover up the crime by misleading” investigators, affidavits stated.
The couple said days after the killing that Edwards had phoned home that evening to say he would arrive in a half-hour. His truck pulled up around 11 p.m., and Grooms said he soon heard what he thought was fireworks.
The family had told deputies and the newspaper that the 37-year-old Jones was showering at the time gunfire rang out. Jones didn’t know about Edwards’ death until his mother told him, the Groomses had insisted.
When Edwards didn’t come in, the Groomses walked out and found his body near his backyard chicken coop, they said.
But after Jones’ arrest Monday, deputies started to offer a different narrative. They wrote in affidavits that the three family members devised a scheme together. Jones crept up behind Edwards in the dimly lit yard and shot three bullets into his head, affidavits stated.
Jones then took $44 and a checkbook from Edwards. He provided statements to the authorities about the crimes, according to court records.
Though he and his wife denied plotting the killing, Grooms offered reasoning for his stepson’s alleged actions.
Jones had been depressed and developed an addiction to painkillers during the 12 years they all lived together at the house at 374 Ridge Road. He missed his former wife and his dead son, Grooms added. Deputies were summoned to the home in November 2011 and found Jones unresponsive.
Beside him was a note indicating a suicide attempt, according to an incident report. Also nearby was an empty bottle of neurontin, a drug that treats epilepsy and some forms of pain. The bottle had been prescribed to him and was supposed to contain 60 pills.
Two bottles designed to hold 180 tablets of blood pressure medication also were strewn about. They had been prescribed to Edwards, and they were empty. “He died right there in the hallway,” Grooms said Tuesday. “But the EMS brought him back.”