Esther Baldwin was found dead in her home Saturday. Investigators believe she was shot and killed by her ex-husband, Kenneth Myers. (Family photo)
News at 6 o'clock / July 4, 2011
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- After the shooting rampage in Wagener over the weekend, many families are grieving and asking why.
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, S.C.
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.
Mixon said Myers still believed Esther belonged to him, so he couldn't let her go.
"She had finally left and got her life back together. She got a job and was doing really well for herself," Dinah Baldwin said.
And her sisters were happy for her. They say when she died -- for the first time in a long time -- she was actually living.