Whenever Boston University junior Kesha Perkins needed emotional support, she reflexively turned to Erin Edwards, her close friend and fellow Atlantan.
Wednesday night, Perkins received word that 20-year-old Erin had died. Investigators believe Dr. Marsha Edwards, the former wife of surgeon and civic leader Christopher Edwards, shot and killed her daughter, Erin, and son, 24-year-old Christopher Edwards II, before turning the gun on herself. Their bodies were found by police inside their upscale Vinings townhouse after Cobb County police were asked to perform a wellness check.
“Now I’ve lost my support system,” Perkins said. The North Cobb High School graduate who, along with Erin Edwards, was one of 10 local students to receive a Posse Foundation full scholarship to attend Boston University, recalled a particularly rough night this past spring, soon after her grandmother’s death.
“She came right down to my room and stayed two hours,” Perkins said. “Erin always made time for her friends.”
And she did so while maintaining a manic schedule. An alumnus, like her brother, of Woodward Academy, Erin majored in journalism, serving as editor-in-chief of Charcoal magazine, a literary publication highlighting women of color. She also reported for the campus newspaper, was “co-DJ” on a feminist talk show, and penned scripts and stage-managed a current affairs show on BU’s television station.
Perkins said Erin could perform all the songs from “Hamilton” — “she loved musicals” — and was excited about studying in London this spring.
There, she would be able to further indulge her fondness for “high tea,” a custom that began at Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party in Candler Park and continued in Boston.
She had recently completed an internship at WNBC-TV in New York City, where she wrote articles for the station’s digital team. Friends say Erin was deeply committed to journalism, telling them nothing was more important than their story.
Her passion for communications was shared by her older brother, Christopher, digital content manager for the Atlanta film and entertainment office.
“He was the nicest person I’ve ever met at Elon,” said Emmanuel Morgan, who graduated from Elon University in May, a year after his friend Christopher. “He was always upbeat. He was always willing to be there for people. If he didn’t know you, he would introduce himself.”
Morgan is interning this summer at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He and his friend went to a Braves game on Sunday. Afterward, they hung out for a while at the Edwards family’s townhouse. He was shaken when, just three days later, the home appeared in news reports as the scene of a heinous crime.
Many questions remain about the fatal shootings:
» Who requested the wellness check?
» When did the murders take place?
» What kind of gun was used?
» Who is the registered owner of the gun?
» What evidence prompted authorities to classify the investigation as a double murder-suicide?
For those who knew the Edwards family, the mystery is even more baffling. Marsha Edwards owned MME Enterprises, a surgical and medical equipment supplier. Her former husband serves on the board of trustees of the Morehouse School of Medicine and was formerly on the board of Grady Memorial Hospital. He is the chairman of the Atlanta Housing Authority board.
“Dr. Edwards, his extended family and friends are in a state of grief and shock, and privacy of the family is paramount as arrangements are being made,” spokesman Jeff Dickerson said Thursday in an emailed statement.
Fahizah Alim, a family friend, said she cut short a visit to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to be with her daughter in Atlanta after learning of the “incomprehensible tragedy.”
She recalled a favorite memory of Marsha and Erin, when they gathered with friends for a Mother’s Day brunch in 2017 at the Grand Hyatt in Buckhead.
“Knowing I had a career in journalism, Marsha was intent on having me speak with Erin about her education and future career,” Alim said. “Erin was so excited about pursuing a career in journalism, and I shared what I knew. It was a joyous day and the one I choose to remember.”
Alim said she’ll also remember Marsha Edwards as a loving mother. Erin’s friends told the AJC she spoke highly of her mother, and their relationship appeared to be a close one. They had returned from a vacation in Italy just days before the shooting.
“She was so focused on their happiness and their future and totally committed to their goals and aspirations,” Alim said.
In a statement, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms paid tribute to the family.
“Chris and Erin were beautiful, vibrant, and brilliant young adults, whom we had the pleasure of knowing their entire lives. They filled the lives of all who met them with joy, compassion, and kindness. May the peace of God, that surpasses all understanding, be with the Edwards family and all who had the honor to have known them.”
Chris Edwards’ alma mater is honoring his memory with videos posted in tribute on the Elon News Network site.
“The lasting legacy is that it’s important to be kind to other people, and Chris was kind to other people,” Tom Nelson, an associate professor of journalism and a mentor to Chris, said in one of the videos. “I could give you all that other stuff — he was a good reporter, he loved sports, all that sort of business. Dust to dust, the thing that was important was that he was a kind and decent kid.”
Back at Boston University, where Erin’s Atlanta friends were preparing to return home for the memorial service, scheduled for Wednesday morning at Cascade United Methodist Church, the shock was starting to give way to sadness.
“She was the mom of the Posse,” recalled MC Carradine, a Towers High School graduate and fellow Posse member. When MC started dating someone at BU, Erin insisted on meeting her. He did the same when Erin met her boyfriend.
Carradine said he’s trying to find solace in one of Erin’s few flaws.
“She was always running late,” he said. “So that’s how I’m dealing with her not being here. ‘Don’t worry, guys, she’s on the way.’”
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AJC staff writers Gracie Bonds Staples and Chelsea Prince contributed to this article.