Aiken Area Progressive

Progressive blog for the Central Savannah River Area.

Category: Wagener Massacre

Grim achievement: South Carolina ranked tops in male-on-female murders in 2011

COLUMBIA — South Carolinians are back at the top in a category no state wants to be number one in.

The number of women murdered by men.

In 2011, South Carolina had the highest male-on-female homicide rate.  The state saw sixty-one women killed by men in murders and massacres, and a homicide rate of 2.54 per 100,000 women.

However, not all of the women who were murdered by a man had relationships.  The 61 women who were slain also includes men who killed women in other situations, such as drug deals gone bad.

Ninety-three percent of the women killed by men knew their killer.  Included in this percentage are women who knew the men due to the aforementioned drug deals, as well as robbery and burglary.

Five in every eight women killed were murdered by a man they had a relationship with.  That includes three women from Wagener, all of whom were killed by Kenneth Meyers.  All of the posts about the Wagener Massacre can be seen in link.

These grim numbers compiled by the Violence Prevention Center (below) caught the attention of the South Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Violence.

“It is our hope that this report will be a call to action for the leadership of South Carolina and its citizens to recognize the seriousness of the problem in our state and begin to work collaboratively to find real solutions that improve the safety and lives of women in our state,” said Colleen Campbell Bozard, the interim chair of the state’s anti-sexual violence organization.

And for those who think that more guns would have helped, think about this and let it sink in for a moment: eight of the ten states that had the highest rate of male-on-female murders in 2011, including S.C., has had very loose gun laws predating 2011 by at least seven years.

[WIS News 10]

Wagener Massacre: 366 days later

WAGENER — It was a trigger moment that I would not soon forget.

366 days ago, on July 2, 2011, I read and saw breaking news reports that three women were killed. A fourth was later killed. And the killer committed suicide.

The killer was Kenneth Myers. The four victims were Vicki Brown, 50; twin sisters Tabitha Brown and Angela Myers, both 25; and Esther Baldwin, 47.

All of them had at least one bullet to the vital head region. Three of the four of them from the same family – a mother and both her daughters. Two of them twins. Two of them, Mr. Myers had relationships with.

In so many ways, this killing resembled two other mass killing spree across North America – the massacre at Bridgefield, Pa. on August 4, 2009 and the killing of 14 women at a Quebec college, some of them being women’s studies majors.

In each of those three killings, women were targeted.

While most of America plan on using fireworks and guns to celebrate Independence Day, let’s stand in silence for the women who are victims of misogynistic violence.

Twin tragedy: Tornado crushes Wagener Massacre victim’s home + pics of North Tornado

WAGENER — As if July 2, 2011 was not bad enough for the Baldwin family, Friday brought even more tragic news.

One of the two tornados to hit the Central Savannah River Area on Friday afternoon obliterated the home of the late Esther Baldwin along SAND DAM RD near the North Fork Edisto River.  If you’re wondering where the second tornado in the CSRA touched down at, it struck the Town of North (photos of the North tornado will be below the Wagener tornado story).

Via WRDW News 12.

Sometimes a house is more than just a house and for the family of a Wagener murder victim, her house was all they had left of her.

Esther Baldwin was shot and killed in her home in July. She was the last victim in a murder suicide that took four lives.

On Friday, a tornado destroyed her home. Her family was emotional as they surveyed the damage.

“Very emotional, very hard,” said Esther’s sister, Mary Shore. “You can’t come and sit on her steps anymore.”

Those steps that now lie in a pile of debris in the middle of where Esther Baldwin’s two-story home used to stand.

“This was the last thing we had of our sister that we could actually come to and be a part of,” Shore said. “This is where she lived, this is where she died. So it’s very hard to see its gone like she is, it’s gone.”

A violent storm, just like that violent day in July that took a part of their family.

“It’s devastating,” Shore said. “Another incident just rips your heart out; it’s like the last piece of Esther is gone.”

But her home seemed to be the only thing around that was gone.

“If you look around here, I mean you got an old abandoned trailer here, a neighbor’s house, I think it tore a window out, that kind of stuff, but this house it took and just ripped it apart,” said David Baldwin, Esther’s brother.

Neighbors who helped build the home can’t believe how easily it was destroyed. John Soloky said he helped build the house about six years ago.

“When I saw this, it’s just hard to believe because I helped build this house and it was put together,” Soloky said. “I’m just flabbergasted.”

Soloky’s wife and 13-year-old grandson were in his house about 300 feet away when the tornado hit.

“All I heard was a bunch of wind and I couldn’t see anything,” said Soloky’s grandson, Kenneth Mcleoud.

Then the rain stopped.

“I saw a little bit of it and I said, ‘Oh my God, Ms. Esther’s house is gone.'”

Their house survived with very little damage, but Baldwin’s didn’t. Now her family is dealing with loss all over again.

No injuries have been reported.

My heart aches for the Baldwin family even more now than it did on July 2 when I first read about Ms. Baldwin’s brutal death to the hands of her ex-boyfriend.  To lose a loved one is bad enough.  But, to lose the home she spent her last day alive at (as well as the belongings that Ms. Baldwin left behind) less than two-thirds of a year after being slain is just too much.

The home that was built six years ago was crushed in all of 12 seconds.

The Aiken County Chapter of the Red Cross, located at 1314 WEST PINE LOG RD, is assisting the Baldwin family, as well as the others that lost their home along SAND DAM RD.

Photos of the Wagener twister are available on various social media accounts of News 12, NBC 26 and WJBF NewsChannel 6.  I will not post those pics here.

As for the North twister, here are those pics:

The crossing bar at this railway crossing was bent like Play-Doh by a tornado that struck North.
Damage at Dover Elementary in North.

Wind damage, hail, excessive cloud-to-ground lightning, and even flooding was also reported in numerous other counties locally. Columbia County, Richmond County, Hampton County, McDuffie County, Warren County, and Taliaferro County all reported seeing severe weather.  A dog was struck by lightning in Augusta, Ga.

You can view all the storm reports on this link.

I truly hope that this is not a preview of what severe weather season will look like, which begins on the same exact day as Women’s History Month.

UPDATE @ 16:10: The Storm Prediction Center surveyors have confirmed that the North tornado is an EF-0 and the Wagener tornado is an EF-2.

Memorial for the victims of the Wagener Massacre tonight at Downtown Pavilion

WAGENER — There will be a memorial for the victims of the July 2-3 Wagener Massacre tonight.

It will begin at 7 p.m. at the Downtown Pavilion in the town and will likely last about one hour.

Esther Baldwin, 47, Angela Myers and Tabitha Brown, both 25, and Vicki Myers, 50, all of Wagener; were murdered by abusive misogynist Ken Myers bridging the two aforementioned dates.

More on the Wagener Massacre:

Aiken Area Progressive:

Misogynistic murders in Wagener

America’s Culture of Misogyny claims 4 more victims, gets more extreme with each passing birthday

Abusive misogynist had more people targeted + video of interviews from victims’ families

Woman who saved children during Wagener massacre speaks

WRDW News 12:

Identities of 4 Wagener homicide victims released

Family of Wagener victim describes suspect as ‘control freak’

Family of victim speaks out about domestic violence

Daughter of Tabitha Brown finds neighbor to call 911

Woman who made 911 call in Wagener case speaks out


Three Confirmed Dead in Wagener

Names released of four dead, Suspect shot in Aiken County rampage

Wagener Murders Exclusive: A Child’s plea for help

WJBF-DT News Channel 6:

Names released of four dead, Suspect shot in Aiken County rampage

Aiken County Sheriff’s Office Working To Clarify Wagener Shooting Speculation

Woman who saved two children during the Wagener Massacre speaks

WAGENER — I have no transcript here, but here is the video of the woman who saved two young children (ages 6 and 1) while misogynist killer Ken Meyers was gunning down four women.


Wagener Massacre: Abusive misogynist had more people targeted + video of interviews from victims’ families

WAGENER — It turns out that (sadly) I was indeed correct: with the exception of one person, all of the people targeted (seven in all) by an abusive misogynist were women.

He already mowed down 57% of the people on his hit list by the time Aiken County Sheriff’s deputies got involved. The cops, staying hot on his trail, prevented him from going after the other three.

And once again, the right wing nut job media outlets — the (Columbia) State and the Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle — does the typical sidestepping and proclaim that financial troubles — not the killer’s controlling ways — caused this massacre.

And people ever wonder why newspapers — and the Chronicle in particular — are going bankrupt.

WRDW did interviews with Esther Baldwin’s family and they talk deeply of the killer’s abusive ways towards Ms. Baldwin. Ms. Baldwin was from North Augusta.

News 12 spoke with the family of one of the victims, who says Myers was controlling and scared them. Esther Baldwin’s two sisters say they never trusted Myers.

A local domestic violence counselor said their gut feeling was probably right on.

“He was a very controlling freak,” Dinah Baldwin said. “He made her quit her job. She couldn’t cut her hair. She couldn’t wear makeup and wouldn’t let her visit her family.”

Dinah Baldwin feels like she has lost her sister twice. The first time was when Esther moved in with Ken Myers. The second time was when investigators say Myers took her life.

“Every time I called my sister I could hear him say get off the phone and cook dinner to do this or that,” Belinda Knoeplfe said. “He would say he would kick her ass if she didn’t do what she was told.”

Knoepfle said she also worried about her sister. Esther met Myers on the Internet, and they started living together soon after. Both sisters feel like he hid her away in a secluded home in the woods of Wagener.

Experts say this is a tell-tale sign of an abuser.

“If he is going to control her and do what he wants to do with her, then she can not have connection with family or her friends,”said Kay Mixon, executive director of the Cumbee Center, which assists abused victims in Aiken.

She said Esther could have been a victim of abuse for years.

“He is going to do everything he can to do make this woman dependent on him,” she said.

That is exactly what the Baldwin family said happened.

“He had threatened to take her life before — and her daughter’s,” Dinah Baldwin said.

Knoeplfe and Dinah Baldwin said their baby sister was trapped. Seven and a half years later, Myers met another woman and moved out.

But that wasn’t the end for Esther Baldwin and Myers.

“Even though the abuser may move out, that is not the end,” Mixon said.

(emphasis mine in bold)

Also, they interviewed the killer’s daughter. But, I won’t post it here. You can read it here.

Words alone cannot describe the rage that still fills my body. Four women gone. Three families torn apart by this abusive misogynist.

My heart aches for the Baldwin and Brown families. My heart aches for the people in North Augusta, Big Cone Ridge, Taylor Pond, Rainbow Falls and Wagener. Most in the media will forget all about the heartache that you are all going through within four weeks. But, I won’t.

May Esther Baldwin, May and Tabitha Brown, and Angela Myers rest in peace. And may the abusive misogynist that gunned them down go to Purgatory where he rightfully belongs.

America’s Culture of Misogyny claims 4 more victims, gets more extreme with each passing birthday

WAGENER — Today is Independence Day. And for America’s women, it just may well be another day on the Calendar, not even worth celebrating.

On the 235th birthday of this nation, women in America are being enslaved and slaughtered by misogynistic ‘culture warriors’ in the far right wing Republican and Tea parties at an alarming rate.

And alarmingly, America’s culture of misogyny is being embraced, supported and endorsed by millions and millions of people — including celebrities and politicians — from coast to coast.

Even after four women in Wagener was gunned down by a misogynistic control freak on Saturday.

The shootings in Wagener are the latest example of America’s violent misogynistic society that has been out of control for eight years now. And not only that, but the Culture of Misogyny is getting more extreme by the day.

Kenneth Myers, 47, may have been the one to pull the trigger five times. But, he is not the only one to blame for what happened on Daytona Rd in northern Aiken County on Saturday.

Our entire misogynistic culture is to blame for what went down on Saturday.

We are more than willing to fight misogynistic leaders in the Middle East, but when it comes to fighting misogynistic leaders (and people) at home — whether it is in Aiken County, Edgefield County, Columbia or in Washington, DC — very few people are willing to get up off their sorry asses and confront the misogynistic right wing extremists exterminating women right here at home. That is where the hypocrisy come in.

Every person who supports anti-choice laws are indirectly responsible for the massacre in Wagener. Every person who opposes the Equal Rights Amendment, who opposes laws that help women get on equal footing with men like myself and who opposes the expansion of laws curbing domestic violence are also indirectly responsible for the massacre in Wagener.

In short, America’s misogynistic culture, which claimed four more lives on Saturday, is responsible for the massacre that took place on Daytona Rd.

Instead of firing up the barbecues today, take a moment to think about the ways in which you can put an end to America’s Culture of Misogyny.

Misogynistic murders in Wagener

WAGENER — Four women, ranging in age from 25 to 50 are were gunned down by a man named Kenneth Myers, who later killed himself.

Here is the latest from the Aiken Standard:

The other victims were Myers’ wife, 25-year-old Angela M. Myers, her twin sister Tabitha T. Brown and their mother, 50-year-old Vicki May Hook Brown, according to Coroner Tim Carlton. The bodies were discovered by authorities at a home on Daytona Road around 6 p.m.

The last victim who was found was Myers’ ex-wife 47-year-old Esther Baldwin at a Big Branch Road home around 1 a.m., Carlton said.

All women were said to have each died from a single gunshot wound.

According to WRDW News 12, Mr. Meyers was planning well in advance to harm women. Which makes this quadruple murder all the more misogynistic. The shootings in Wagener is very similar to one in Bridgeville, Pa. where one misogynist gunned down several women at a gym on August 4, 2009. With one notable exception: Myers knew his victims, George Sodini did not.

Sadly, misogynistic violence has now hit Wagener. Just like it has all those other times before in many other places in this nation. Jessica Valenti was right 23 months ago: this is a culture-wide problem.

UPDATE at 22:51: Added some detail to the post. Also, a video from WRDW interviewing Ms. Baldwin’s family is below:

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