Man accused of killing Dorchester County woman after date stirs emotions in the courtroom

Ashley Pegram and Edward Bonilla

The family of a Dorchester County woman who disappeared after a date last month got a look Wednesday at the man accused of killing her.

So did a woman who said she dated him two years ago but broke it off because she felt uncomfortable.

Edward Primo Bonilla, 30, of Mabeline Road in Hanahan is facing a murder charge in the death of Ashley Pegram, a 28-year-old mother of three he met through the Kik phone application. He appeared in bond court on a video screen from the jail in St. George.

Pegram’s mother, sister and several other family members sat on a bench just a few feet away in the tiny courtroom, crying quietly and wiping their eyes. The woman who said she dated him sat nearby with a relative.

Bonilla clearly enunciated his answers and was consistently polite as Magistrate Amanda Leviner asked him questions and explained what was going on. His only visible sign of concern was when he asked why his attorney from the public defender’s office was not there. Leviner informed him that she could not set bail in a murder case and another hearing would be held in general sessions court.

Pegram was last seen leaving on a date with Bonilla the night of April 3 from her home in Clemson Terrace near Summerville. He was arrested on an obstruction of justice charge when investigators said his story didn’t hold up.

Pegram has not been found, but a murder charge was added after investigators said they found blood in multiple locations, including the trunk of Bonilla’s car, that matched her DNA.

“It is believed that Ashley Pegram is deceased and the defendant is the one responsible,” according to the affidavit.

Pegram’s mother and sister were too upset after the hearing to talk.

The woman who dated Bonilla did not want to identify herself, but relative Trish Jenkins of Moncks Corner spoke on her behalf while she stood nearby.

“I got physically nauseated,” she said of seeing Bonilla. “It was quite scary.”

She said they came to the bond hearing to support Pegram’s family.

“We immediately felt a level of sympathy for the family,” she said.

Jenkins said her relative started dating Bonilla about two years after meeting him at a shop where she was getting her car fixed. She said she broke it off after he started getting too pushy and she felt uncomfortable.

“We knew he had the capability of being forceful,” she said.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.