Thursday, August 11, 2022

The Murder of Silene Eaddy

image source: Richland County Sheriff's Department

Silene Eaddy was only 15 years-old when she was brutally murdered during the early morning hours of April 17th, 2004. It was 5:00 AM when authorities in Richland County, South Carolina were notified about a small brush fire. Columbia fire personnel were sent to the area off Highway 378 near Montgomery Lane and Pincushion Road, where they spotted the fire in a wooded area. 

As first responders worked to put out the flames, they noticed the body of a teenage girl was lying facedown in the brush. She had suffered severe trauma to her body. Two days later, it was confirmed that the young victim was Silene. Dental records and a necklace she was wearing helped confirm her identity.

Silene, referred to by friends and family as Erica, had been the victim of a horrific murder. She had been savagely beaten and then set on fire. Medical examiners noted that Silene actually had soot in her lungs at the time of her death, indicating that she was still alive when the fire was lit. It is believed that the fire was set with the purpose of destroying evidence. 

Silene was last seen alive by her family members between 7:00 and 7:30 PM on April 15th, 2004. She left her family's home on foot to walk to a neighbor's house around the corner. Silene was known to walk around the area and chat with neighbors, so this initially did not seem unusual. Silene's family members grew concerned when she did not return, but they initially waited to contact authorities. The teen reportedly had a habit of running away, but she usually returned within a few days. 

By the time Silene's mother finally did report file a missing persons' report, her body had already been found. At that point, authorities were still working to identify the girl they had found in the brushfire. When detectives were notified about Silene's disappearance, they immediately suspected that she was the unidentified girl. These suspicions were confirmed shortly thereafter. Silene's case was then shifted into a murder investigation.

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Who killed Silene?

As previously stated, Silene was only 15 years-old at the time of her tragic death. It is hard to imagine why anyone would kill such a young person in such a horrific manner. Investigators have spent several years trying to find answers, but so far no arrests have been made. 

A look into Silene's background and life at the time of her murder may hold the answers. 

About Silene 'Erica' Eaddy.

(image source)

Silene 'Erica' Eaddy was a resilient young girl. She spent her early years in the foster system. At age 3, Silene was fostered by a woman named Brenda McCoy. Brenda and her husband officially adopted Silene two years later. The family resided in Columbia, South Carolina, where Silene lived with her adoptive parents and her siblings, Eugene and Destiny. Despite her tough early years, Silene appeared to be a happy child. 

Loved ones described Silene as a caring youngster with a "wonderful spirit". According to her mother Brenda, Silene loved to do various kind things for her parents, such as cooking for them and greeting them at the door. She enjoyed music, art, and writing. Silene was also well-known throughout her community, she was friendly towards her neighbors and often chatted with them. 

The early teenage years. 

Like many children going through puberty, Silene's behavior and interests began to shift as she entered her teenage years. These changes were amplified when Silene's adoptive father died of a heart attack. This was obviously traumatizing and devastating for the young girl, as she was very close with her father. According to Brenda, Silene began to "act out" as a result of this great loss.

Silene was a student at Alston-Wilkes Youth Services School in Columbia; a school for at-risk youth. When she entered high school, Silene was initially enrolled at the local Dreher High - but was soon sent to Alston-Wilkes upon referral. Reports state that the teen had of engaging in potentially dangerous behaviors such as hitching rides with men she did not know and running away from home. Brenda has been quoted saying that she believes Silene had fallen in with a "bad crowd" around this time. 

Despite all this, it appeared the teen girl was still, in many ways, a typical teen girl. She participated in her school's Jr. ROTC program and remained interested in the arts. Various neighbors stated that Silene seemed like a very confident girl. She also remained quite friendly and still had many conversations with her people around her neighborhood. 

Silene's disappearance and death.

As previously stated, Silene's family members last saw her alive on the evening of April 15th, 2004. Silene was headed towards a nearby neighbor's house, but very little other information is known. Reports state that Brenda probed her daughter for more information about what she was doing, but Silene brushed her off. 

Due to Silene's habit of running away, Brenda did not immediately call police. She had run away in the past, but she never stayed away for long. However, when Silene did not return after two days, Brenda finally reported her missing. Unbeknownst to both Brenda and investigators, the young girl had already been found deceased. 

Silene could have only been deceased for a short period of time before she was found during the early morning hours of April 17th. Soot was in her lungs at the time of her death, meaning she was alive at the time the fire was set. This leaves a whole window of Silene's time between the evening of April 15th and the morning of April 17th that is unaccounted for. As such, many questions remain: What did Silene do after leaving her house? Who did she see? Who killed her? Why?

Theories.

The neighbor Silene was supposedly visiting on the evening of April 15th has never been publicly identified. It's unclear if investigators are aware of this persons' identity. It is also unknown if any witnesses have ever come forward about Silene's whereabouts/actions between April 15th and 17th. If police have any of this information, it has never been publicly revealed. Still, there is enough information to garner up a few theories.

Brenda's mother said that Silene began hanging out with a "bad crowd" prior to her death. She does not elaborate further on this, but she did mention that she felt Silene might have been afraid of some of these people. Brenda once told reporters, "I knew [Silene] fell in with the wrong crowd of people, so knew in my heart something was not right. I think in some ways, she was afraid because of some of the things she would say, but then she didn’t know how to get out of her situation." Is it possible that Silene was murdered by a member of this "wrong crowd"? Did she know too much information about them?

Other reports state that Silene was known to accept rides from various men in the area. There is also a possibility that she accepted a ride from the wrong person, and ended up killed. However, it should be noted that investigators believe Silene was murdered by somebody she knew. A detective working the case was quoted saying, "[Silene] was searching for a lot of comfort in the wrong places, in the wrong people. People took advantage of her."

Where the case stands today.

As of 2022, no suspects or persons of interest have been publicly named in the case. It appears as if detectives followed several promising leads during the early years of the investigation, but the case has since gone stagnant. 

Brenda McCoy passed away on April 30th, 2020. She died before ever receiving answers in her daughter's case.

There is a monetary reward available for anyone with information that could lead to Silene's killer(s). If you have any helpful information, please submit a tip.

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Sources:
Hue and Cry
Newsbreak
Uncovered

WIS News 10

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