No one knows what to say following the devastating murder of a 6-year-old on St. Helena Island but, for his community, Bishop Kenneth C. Doe of Bethesda Christian Fellowship Church tried.
“Let’s keep the family in our prayers,” Doe said Sunday during regular services. “Sometimes, in tragedy, we ask where was God? I challenge you to also ask where God is in the good times.”
Jamie Bradley-Brun, 37, of St. Helena, was accused of murder and attempted murder after she allegedly drowned one child and tried to drown another at the family’s Sam Doyle Drive home Friday.
The tight-knit community on Sam Doyle Drive, many of whom are related to Bradley-Brun, attend the same church about a four-minute drive away. News of the crime shocked the community and the disbelief was plainly seen, according to previous reporting. Neighbors and other community members held their faith close to their chests as details about the drownings continued to be released by police.
“We’re praying for the family, and the father, even the mother,” said Will Smith, a neighbor and school board member for the Beaufort County School District. “That’s the mentality of this community: People are praying.”
A 16-year-old, the oldest of Bradley-Brun’s three girls, woke up around 1:20 a.m. Friday hearing her 8-year-old sister’s cries for help from the bathroom. Police believe Bradley-Brun was trying to drown the child when her older sister stepped in, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office. The two ran to a relative’s home nearby. When police arrived about eight minutes later, they found 6-year-old Mackaya Bradley-Brun, who died around 2:15 a.m. at Beaufort Memorial Hospital.
Police have not released a motive for the murder and, when asked at a press conference if mental health issues were a factor, Beaufort County Sheriff PJ Tanner said he is “not a mental health expert,” according to previous reporting. The names of the two surviving girls have not been released.
Attorney information for Bradley-Brun was not immediately available and, as of Sunday morning, she remained in custody at the Beaufort County Detention Center.
The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to investigate the crime along with the Department of Child Fatalities, which investigates “suspicious, unexpected or unexplained” deaths of children as part of the SC Law Enforcement Division’s Special Victims Unit.
The family has set up a GoFundMe.