Many mourn victim ‘who had the biggest heart’ as ex-boyfriend charged with her murder

Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 10:55 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 30, 2021 at 1:02 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - An ex-boyfriend has been charged with murder after the death of a 20-year-old woman he’s accused of shooting this week outside Hephzibah.

Meanwhile, family members and friends are remembering murder victim Brenleigh Kitchens, 20, as beautiful, kind and full of heart. She died Thursday, a day after being shot in the face in the 4300 block of Aintree Road east of Hephzibah.

Jaden Ross
Jaden Ross

Soon after Wednesday night’s shooting, Jaden Ross, 20, of Evans, had been arrested on charges of aggravated assault (family violence) and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

However, after Kitchens was pronounced dead at 5:45 p.m. Thursday at Augusta University Medical Center, the charges against Ross were upgraded this morning to murder.

During the investigation, Ross was determined to be the suspect in the shooting that was reported just before 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to authorities.

Kitchens is being mourned by her friends and family, who’ve posted an outpouring of grief on social media.

“I wish I could do anything to get my baby sister back,” her sister Hadleigh Black wrote on Facebook. “Life already isn’t the same without her. I can’t bury my baby sister. She was such a beautiful and kind person. She had the biggest heart and she didn’t deserve her life to be taken from her so brutally by a sick monster. I wish this could make sense but it doesn’t.”

Friends have already painted Kitchens’ name on a memorial rock at her Lakeside High School, which she attended. They also left a sign on a fence with the message that they love and miss her.

“Fly high Brenleigh,” the sign says.

Brenleigh Kitchens' name has been added to a memorial rock at Lakeside High School.
Brenleigh Kitchens' name has been added to a memorial rock at Lakeside High School.

Her friend Karlee Luna is among those who are mourning.

“When you see Brenleigh, you can’t help but smile,” Luna told News 12.

“She had these bright blue eyes, bright red curly hair and was always being silly, no matter where she was or who was around. You could not miss her.”

She said Kitchens was loyal and “had such a big heart, anytime with her was a good time” and “she deserved more than this world gave her.”

In her Facebook post, Black wrote that she wished her sister’s death was a bad dream that would end.

“I love knowing so many people loved my sweet Brenleigh,” she wrote.

“I will miss her every second of my life and I can’t believe this is happening ... I love you so much Brenleigh. I wish your big sister could have protected you somehow.”

Dangerous days in the CSRA

The shooting occurred during a violent stretch of days for the CSRA that included a fatal beating, a deadly shooting, a pair of drive-by shootings and a double homicide.

Among the incidents, a man was shot at least twice on Tuesday afternoon at the Smart Grocery convenience store, 3221 Wrightsboro Road. At the scene, a man could be seen in handcuffs being placed in the back of a patrol car. Two people were sought for questioning, but one has been located.

Also Tuesday, a woman was found dead in a unit at the Maxwell House Apartments on Greene Street. Investigators have charged Alaric Smith, 51, of Augusta, with concealing the death of Amanda Shetrone, 38.

On Tuesday morning, Angela Moore, 55, died after being found beaten over the weekend at her home on Curry Street in Augusta. Authorities are looking for a man for questioning in connection with her case.

The double homicide happened at 1383 Paul Lord Road in Wrightsville, where authorities last Friday discovered the bodies of Destiny Hope Kight, 18, of Wrightsville and Charles Jaylon Garrett, 18, of East Dublin. They died from apparent gunshot wounds. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was called in to help with the case.

Then early Saturday, 18-year-old Joseph Copeland was fatally shot in Aiken while sitting in a vehicle with another teen near an apartment complex on Barnwell Avenue at Kershaw Street. Copeland was take to Aiken County Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Later in the weekend, separate drive-by shootings left three people with injuries.

Just before 11:30 p.m. Saturday, a woman was injured in a drive-by shooting at 126 Free Indeed Blvd. just outside North Augusta. The 64-year-old victim was found bleeding from her left arm, according to deputies.

Then on Sunday night near Beech Island, two people were injured in another drive-by shooting. The 46-year-old female and 36-year-old male suffered injuries that weren’t life-threatening. But the location — 1630 Storm Branch Road near Blackstone Camp Road — had been the site of an earlier drive-by shooting on Wednesday. That earlier shooting didn’t injure anyone, according to deputies

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