September 10, 2019 Atlanta - Christopher Edwards (right), the chairman of the Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA) board, confers with Robert Rumley III (left), vice chairman of the AHA board, during a board meeting at the Atlanta Housing Authority on Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Atlanta father who lost his family in murder-suicide calls for healing

The chairman of the Atlanta Housing Authority board on Tuesday thanked members of the public who reached out to him following the killing of his son and daughter last month.

It was the first time Christopher Edwards has publicly commented on the events of Aug. 21, when investigators say his ex-wife shot their two children, 24-year-old-year-old Christopher Jr. and 20-year-old Erin, before turning the gun on herself.

“The cards and prayers came from all over Georgia, not just Atlanta,” Edwards, a prominent surgeon, said just before the start of the housing authority’s regularly scheduled meeting. “Then they came in from the nation, and most recently, they have now been coming in from the world. You reached me, and I thank you so very much.”

A longtime fixture in the Atlanta medical community, Edwards serves on the board of trustees of the Morehouse School of Medicine and was formerly on the board of Grady Memorial Hospital.

His head shaven and wearing a red tie, he spoke calmly, pausing occasionally throughout his remarks.

He told those gathered for the meeting that not only does he need to heal, but so does the city.

Marsha Edwards and Erin Edwards smile in a photo after a tour of the Vatican dated Aug. 19, 2019. The photo was one of many shared to Marsha's Facebook page after a recent mother-daughter trip to Italy.
Photo: Family photo / Facebook

Three weeks ago, police were asked to go to Marsha Edwards’ home in Vinings to conduct a welfare check. There, they discovered the 58-year-old’s body, along with the bodies of Christopher and Erin.

Christoper Edwards had taken a trip to the Caribbean with his son several weeks ago and had dinner with his daughter the night before their bodies were found.

Christopher Jr. was a digital content manager for the Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Film and Entertainment. Erin was a rising junior at Boston University and had just finished a summer internship with NBC New York. Both were Woodward Academy graduates.

Their deaths rocked Atlanta’s black social circle.

As the owner of MME Enterprises, Marsha Edwards was a surgical and medical equipment distributor. Active in the community, she was a member of several high-profile black organizations and civic groups, including the Atlanta Chapter of Jack and Jill of America and the Camellia Rose Chapter of The Links.

Earlier this year, Women Works Media Group named her one of Atlanta’s Most Powerful and Influential Women of 2019.

She was also active on social media, sharing dozens of photos on Facebook of an early August trip to Miami with Christopher Jr. for the National Association of Black Journalists conference, followed by a trip she took with Erin to Italy.

Christopher Edwards Jr.,  Marsha Edwards and Erin Edwards at a National Association of Black Journalist convention. Christopher Jr. and Erin were both members of the organization and their mom often joined them at events. 
Photo: Facebook John Spink/AJC � 2019 Cox Media Group.

“I’ve had the best summer, first with Chris in Miami and Erin in Italy. I could not ask for better children,” Marsha Edwards wrote in an Aug. 21 Instagram post.

That was the same day police found the bodies.

Christopher Edwards offered no clue on what happened that night and what led to the killings.

Cobb County has not released preliminary autopsy reports, and it could be weeks before final autopsy and toxicology results are available.

Gov. Brian Kemp stands as Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms returns to her seat after delivering her reflections at the family’s funeral. A "Celebration of Life" was held for Christopher Redding Edwards II, Erin Victoria Edwards, and their mother, Dr. Marsha Edwards at Cascade United Methodist Chruch in Atlanta. Marsha Edwards was accused of the fatal shooting last week. Bob Andres / robert.andres@ajc.com

Edwards’ comments, coincidentally, came on the day that is recognized as World Suicide Prevention Day.

In the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 1999 and 2016, death by suicide claimed the lives of 453,577 adults between the ages of 25 and 64.

In 2017, the last year the numbers were reported, the age-adjusted suicide rate reached its highest point ever at 14 deaths per 100,000, up from 10.5 in 1999.

“There are people in need and, as for my family, what they would say — and what we are going to do — is we continue,” Edwards said. “I would implore you, that all of us get on with the business of helping others. Of providing good service. That is what we are going to do. That is the business at hand today.”

As he called the meeting to order, Edwards said that would the last public statement about his family.

He then went on to hire Eugene Jones as the permanent president and chief executive officer of the Atlanta Housing Authority “to help people who are in need now.”

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