Our card this week is Selene Eadie, the Three of Diamonds from South Carolina.
Selene Eadie was a friendly 15-year-old girl whose budding teenage years were cut horrifically
short in the spring of 2004.
Law enforcement investigators in Columbia, South Carolina have been trying to solve this
case for 18 years.
So to help us understand the ins and outs of this story and learn more about what happened
Detectives took our reporter, Emily, to the scene of the crime, which means we’re taking
you there in this episode as well.
I’m Ashley Flowers, and this is The Deck.
It was still light outside at 730 at night on Thursday, April 15th, 2004 in Columbia,
South Carolina, when Brenda McCoy heard her neighbor, Veronica, yell from across the street,
Veronica was having a cookout across the road when she saw Brenda’s teenage daughter, Selene
Eadie, leave the house.
So to help keep Brenda in the loop, Veronica shouted across the road to inform her what
was going on.
At the time, Veronica knew Brenda had been having some trouble with Selene.
Brenda had mentioned a few times that Selene had been acting out, not coming home on time,
leaving without permission, things like that.
Spring of 2004 was just a tough time overall for everyone in the family.
Brenda was a widow whose husband, Fred, had died 10 years earlier, and she’d been trying
her best to be a good mother of three.
Her children were all adopted or in the process of being adopted, and that included 15-year-old
Selene and Selene’s 11-year-old brother and 4-year-old sister.
Selene had been with Brenda for 12 years, so most of her life, and her little sister
was in the process of coming into Brenda’s home full-time in April of 2004.
Being the oldest of three, going through the thick of her teenage years, and still grieving
the loss of her adoptive father really took a toll on Selene, and that’s why she began
Senior cold case detective for the Richland County Sheriff’s Office, Dottie Cronice,
said Brenda had been trying to be helpful and supportive of her daughter, who was obviously
Selene was adopted by Brenda McCoy, and I believe it was Frederick Eady, and he died
when I believe Selene was about five, and that had, from all accounts, a devastating
effect on Selene.
I don’t know how often she tried to find her original birth family, but that seemed to
be a concern to her.
That was noted as possibly being cause for some of the troubles she was having and the
difficulties, but losing him, she was just so attached to him that, you know, I guess
you go through feelings of abandonment, is the only thing I can equate it to.
He’s at five, and he’s gone, and he’s not coming back.
I’m sure Ms. McCoy did what she could do to help her through that, but Selene was her
Sometimes Selene’s behaviors went a little beyond just typical teenage angst and desire
for independence, though.
In fact, according to police records, Selene had actually run away two weeks before the
night of April 15th, when her neighbor caught her.
That incident had scared Brenda so much that she’d contacted the police and filed a missing
That time, Brenda had dropped Selene off at a shoe store in town, but when she came back
to get her, Selene was nowhere to be found.
At the time, Brenda told police that she’d come to the Columbia Police Department and
reported her daughter as a runaway because she thought that maybe the cops sitting down
and intervening could make the teen realize she had to stop taking off, kind of a put
the fear of God in her type of thing.
Eventually, Selene did return home on her own hours later, and the whole reporting the
incident to the police didn’t have much of an impact on her.
So fast forward to April 15th, when Veronica caught a glimpse of the teen sneaking out
of her family’s home, she decided to confront her.
Veronica yelled towards Selene to ask her where she was going, and she responded by
just sort of brushing it off and saying she wasn’t going anywhere.
Next thing Veronica and Brenda knew, Selene was gone.
Brenda even tried to jog up the street to catch up with her daughter, but she was already
too far ahead.
Like I said, Selene running off wasn’t that unheard of for the family, so Brenda tried
not to worry at first.
She thought that her daughter would just come home like she always did later that night.
Brenda had told police in previous runaway reports that Selene was overly friendly to
strangers and too trusting of people she barely knew.
The scary thing was that she would, you know, if she wanted to go into town, she’d take
a ride from anybody.
And that, I think, probably scared her family and her friends more than anything else.
Being 15 has its own aggravations, and that was something her mom said, too, is she never
took into account that mom used to be 15, and she, you know, you just don’t understand.
I used to be 15, too, and I know what you’re going through.
And she would just, Selene did not like anybody getting in her face and just would walk off.
Like a lot of 15-year-olds think that parents don’t know what they’re talking about.
Now, quick sidebar on Detective Dottie Cronise.
Like the bird that flies, it’s a nice day, crow, nice.
Dottie isn’t your average cop.
The 68-year-old has been a detective since the 1970s.
I graduated from University of South Carolina in 1974, August 17th.
August 25th of 1974, I started to work here at Richland County Sheriff’s Office and
was put in juvenile investigations.
Despite working thousands of cases in her career, Dottie can rattle off dates, times
and details from memory like it’s nothing.
She talks about each murder case like it’s her only priority.
She’s someone who befriends victims’ families and shows up to candlelight vigils wearing
a t-shirt the family made to raise awareness about their loved one’s unsolved case.
Talking with Dottie is like talking with an old friend, even though she doesn’t always
love doing media interviews.
I wanted to tell you a little more about Dottie, because if you become a regular listener of
The Deck, which hopefully you do, you’re going to hear her featured a few times on
the show talking about a couple of different unsolved cases in Columbia.
Even though she doesn’t jump at the chance to do sit-down interviews, Dottie loves people.
And she knows that talking about cases, especially cold cases, is one of the keys to solving
It’s sad, but when you can actually bring some resolution, that kind of gives you the
motivation to keep going.
Like Dottie said a second ago, Selene didn’t hesitate to take a ride from someone if they
had a familiar face, like someone she knew from the neighborhood.
She had no problem asking them for a ride.
We don’t know if this is something that Selene did the night she took off from her
family’s house, but what investigators did know for sure is that after Selene walked
away that Thursday night in mid-April, Brenda went back inside after just a few minutes
Night turned into the next morning, and Selene still had not come home.
Two more nights went by, and there was still no sign of her.
Because Selene had that previous history as a runaway, Brenda decided not to call the
police this time.
She was holding out hope that Selene would just show back up.
But it’s not like she did nothing.
Instead of calling 911, Brenda started calling around to people she thought were her daughter’s
friends, and touching base with other family members to ask if anyone had seen or heard
But they hadn’t.
After those two days came and went, it was the weekend, and Brenda was full of dread,
but still trying to stay hopeful.
But any glimmer of hope that Selene would return home unharmed was dashed when county
firefighters made a grisly discovery on that Saturday morning.
That Saturday, a person driving on the outskirts of town noticed a small brush fire burning
in a wooded area.
On Saturday morning, April 17, 2004, around ten after five, there’s a phone call to the
fire department that there’s a fire at the intersection of Pincushion and Montgomery
on the lower side of Richland County.
The fire department responded.
They said the blaze was about 40 feet in diameter.
And they went in, got the blaze out, but as they put the blaze out, they noticed there
was a body in the center.
That body was lying face down in the woods and had been badly burned.
Firefighters didn’t immediately recognize who it was, but from what they saw of the
remains, they could tell that it was likely a girl or woman.
Right before 6 a.m., firefighters called for sheriff’s deputies to respond to the scene
and take over.
When detectives arrived, they processed the area and transported the body to the local
medical examiner’s office for an autopsy.
Here’s where science and the record keeping really make a huge difference in this case.
The ME had no way of really identifying the body just by looking at it.
The fire had inflicted too much damage.
All they could say was that it appeared that in addition to being set on fire, whoever
it was had also been severely beaten.
Some reports indicate that there was soot found in the person’s lungs, which indicated
that they may have still been alive when they were set on fire, but the ME couldn’t make
that determination for sure.
Today, law enforcement still is not sure of that fact.
But remember that missing persons report I told you about earlier?
The one Brenda had filed with the Columbia Police Department when Selene ran away from
that shoe store?
Well, that report was still in law enforcement’s system on April 17th.
It had never been properly cleared after Selene had returned home safely two weeks prior.
Thankfully, that report included Selene’s description and some identifying marks and
When the ME compared the charred remains to cases of missing persons from the area, the
information in Selene’s report stood out.
Here’s Dottie again to explain.
They had the information about Selene being a missing person.
So they were able to, I think, recognize some of the clothing and what all that she was
wearing or supposedly seen last in.
And they got her dental records and through the dental records, they were able to identify
the burned body as that of Selene.
Within a few hours of that discovery, Brenda was asked to come in and identify the body
to help law enforcement clarify, once and for all, that the remains did in fact belong
A necklace her daughter wore with a charm of a shoe on it helped her know for sure.
Dottie said that Brenda was devastated, completely heartbroken, and had a hard time comprehending
why someone would do something so awful to her little girl.
So much of what I have read on her, it talks about Ms. McCoy as being her adoptive mother.
Adopted or not, she was mom and mom loved her daughter and lost her.
You have a child, but in this case, she chose this child.
And there had to be something very special about Selene at the age of three that made
her choose this little girl.
And if she was as happy and spirited at three as she grew up to be, I can see why.
Always that big smile, just glad to be there.
And obviously had a close relationship with dad.
During her interview with us, Dottie brought out her favorite pictures of Selene, which
are still in the Richland County Sheriff’s Office case file.
You can see some of them on our website, thedeckpodcast.com.
In one, Selene is wearing an oversized jacket and hat, leaning over and smiling at the camera.
Selene was just a happy 15-year-old little girl.
You’ve seen the picture of her there in her red coat and kneeling down on the ground.
Her smile just captivates you and she just looks ready for life.
This picture of when she was young is just so pretty.
She just looks so cute in that.
Do you know who took this picture?
Yeah, her personality really shows through in this one.
Yeah, it’s like, I’m cute and I know it.
Yeah, she just looks like a little girl.
In the days after Selene’s murder, Brenda told several local media outlets something
that made police highly suspicious that Selene’s killer could have been a Columbia local.
Brenda was quoted by a few publications stating that Selene had started wearing nothing but
red and black clothing, colors associated with a local street gang.
Brenda had become worried that Selene had possibly gotten mixed up with the wrong group
of friends and was getting into a dangerous crowd.
She said she talked with her daughter about this a few times and tried desperately to
intervene and steer Selene back onto a straight path, but nothing worked.
Selene ended up having to move high schools.
And at the time she was killed, she was enrolled in doing well at an alternative high school.
Police started their investigation into her murder by talking with teachers at that school
and trying to crack into Selene’s friend group, but everyone detectives spoke with
had little information to provide, not because they were unwilling, but mostly because they
were just shocked.
They couldn’t think of anyone who knew Selene that was capable of such a violent murder.
They couldn’t understand, I think their reaction was more that of shock.
How does this happen to a 15 year old girl in our neighborhood?
How does that even take place?
Police began to theorize that whoever Selene was hanging out with and whoever killed her
likely had some kind of power over her.
They could have been older than her and heavily influencing her actions and attitude.
A sheriff’s office investigator at the time told WISTV, quote,
She was a child that had a lot of problems.
She was searching for a lot of comfort in the wrong places, in the wrong people.
People took advantage of her, end quote.
The more police looked into Selene’s life in the days leading up to her murder, the
more leads they came across that they had to chase down.
Detectives interviewed a ton of people and pulled the call logs from Brenda’s house
to see what numbers Selene had dialed and if anyone had called her.
The teen had a pretty robust social life, so there had been dozens of calls to and from
different friends all routed through the home’s landline.
Law enforcement didn’t indicate to us in our interview that Selene had a cell phone,
but this was 2004, it’s definitely possible she had one.
But if she did, no one knew about it.
Not her mother, not her friends, no one.
After days of sorting through the home’s call history and interviewing all of Selene’s
known friends and acquaintances, detectives were trying desperately to find a very specific
type of caller, someone who might have had a romantic interest in Selene.
They thought maybe if there was a significant other person in Selene’s life, that person
could help shed more light on the situation, but that just didn’t pan out.
Based on everyone they interviewed, Selene didn’t have a crush or any kind of romantic
interest at the time of her death.
There were no reports of her sneaking off with an older guy or girl or telling any of
her friends that she was leaving to be with someone.
So the next and most logical place investigators were left to turn to was the location where
Selene’s body had been found.
The spot is what locals refer to as the lower side of Richland County, a rural area by some
Dottie, and another cold case detective in Richland County named Larry Ganey, took Emily
to the old crime scene last summer.
The exact spot that Selene’s charred remains were found back in 2004 is walking distance
into the woods from a paved country road.
The one critical thing that both Dottie and Larry agree on is that the spot would be really
hard to find unless you’re someone who’s super familiar with the area.
That’s actually one of the reasons they volunteered to drive our reporter Emily to the area.
They didn’t think that she could find it on her own.
The area there at Montgomery and Pencushion, it’s rural.
You’ve got a train track running through there.
The houses in that area are far apart.
On a Saturday morning, you’re not going to have much traffic at all because there’s not
going to be anybody going to work, you know, five o’clock in the morning.
The trees are dense, and after just a few hundred yards of walking in the brush, Emily,
Larry, and Dottie arrived.
See that where those things are?
That’s going to be approximately where it was.
So has this always been pretty wooded like this?
It was even back then.
Emily took some photos of the site that you can see on our website.
When I looked at them, it’s pretty clear that it would be really easy to start a fire in
There’s dry brush and trees everywhere, and according to Dottie, it looks pretty much
exactly how it did when Selene was killed.
Right next to the closest intersection that borders the woods where Selene was found is
an old, overgrown logging road.
Larry pointed out the small access road, and he believes that path could have aided Selene’s
killer or killers.
They would have been able to use the logging road to get in and out of the area fairly
The road used to go like up through here.
It went back towards where her body was.
It’s just, it was like two ruts, and you can only see them from the crime scene photographs.
You can’t, you couldn’t tell it today.
Dottie has theorized that it’s possible the moon might have been full the night Selene
She says that in that part of Columbia, if the moon was bright enough, the logging road
might have been lit up for the suspect.
If it was dark though, the killer would have had to bring their own light or use headlights
to get them back to where Selene was dumped.
Either that, or once again, the suspect knew the area so well, they didn’t need anything
to help them with their sense of direction.
It’s very secluded.
The chances of somebody just driving by and seeing somebody, it’s possible.
And it may be that somebody did and didn’t think anything about it at the time.
And they may even have recognized the vehicle, or who was in it, but just discounted it.
But that area is woods, it’s country, and you kind of almost need to know your way around
to get back in there.
Well, if you’re riding around, look, there’s really no houses right here.
So then if you do it late enough at night, you…
And then Saturday morning, nobody’s going to find you.
The remote nature of the area where Selene was left, and the fact that whoever killed
her wanted to make sure she wouldn’t live to tell about what had happened to her, are
two big reasons why her mother Brenda always believed the killer was someone her daughter
And to this day, investigators still agree with that theory.
We are still looking at that time span between 7.30 that Thursday night and 5 a.m. Saturday
morning, and what happened and who she was with.
And we are getting tips about that.
That is still coming into play.
Over the years, detectives like Dottie wanted so badly to find Selene’s killer and give
Brenda closure, but unfortunately, time ran out.
Her mom, Brenda McCoy, in one of her interviews made the statement that she really wanted
this to get solved.
I maybe did before that happens, is what she said.
And sadly, she passed away April 30th of 2020.
And it’s, it’s, it just makes you sad to think that that mom never got to confront
the person that took her daughter from her.
And in such a horrific way.
You know, what brought them to a point of beating and burning?
What was the aggravation?
What was the aggravating factor there?
Those are critical questions.
Who would have the ability to do such horrific things to a 15 year old?
And more importantly, why?
Usually when there’s a fire at a scene or a body has been badly burned, investigators
barely have any evidence to work off of because the flames destroy so much of the scene.
But Dottie says that’s actually not the case here.
Back in 2004, forensic techs were able to pull enough evidence from the crime scene
so that when they do get their suspect, there won’t be any doubt.
No, I don’t think it’s going to be.
They were able to get some good forensics off of it.
So I think, again, corroborating and validating.
So I don’t think the fire is going to make a difference one way or the other.
Dottie wouldn’t go into too much detail, but she said confidently that Richland County
is the closest they have ever been to solving the case.
And that’s thanks to forensic advances and useful tips that have found their way
onto investigators’ desks.
They trickle in, but the last few that we’ve gotten have been usable.
And that’s what I’m saying is those kinds of things really add up.
When you look at tips from five years ago and then you get this one that makes this
one look reasonable.
And as I said, you’re corroborating and putting it together, which is why hopefully, you know,
someone in the community that knew Selene, that hung around with her.
She had so many friends in so many different places.
Again, she was just a very outgoing, friendly child.
And that was, I think, part of the problem in the original investigation was she knew
so many people trying to get a hold of all these people.
Somebody out there knows something.
They may not even realize that they know it.
Or they may suspect, my buddy over here, he’s talked about this a lot, or he seems to maybe
know a little more than he should, but yet they don’t really want to believe that their
buddy could ever have done something like this.
So they don’t come forward.
I’m hoping that these folks will come forward and at least give us the opportunity to rule
it in or rule it out.
What bothers Dottie the most is knowing that Brenda McCoy died without answers.
Before she passed, Brenda told the state newspaper that not knowing and all of the unanswered
questions were killing her.
She said, quote, it’s never going to be easier because I don’t know what happened.
Now, if I find out what happened, then I can kind of rest my mind, end quote.
You would like to think that when you have a child that’s murdered, that you do eventually
get to confront the perpetrator.
And she never had that opportunity.
And this case is solvable.
We just need a few more pieces.
If you have any information about Celine Eady’s murder, Dottie urges you to come forward.
Crime Stoppers in South Carolina still has a $1,000 reward available for information
that leads to a suspect’s conviction.
Don’t sit home thinking, gosh, I don’t really want to bother him with that.
This is silly.
No, pick up the phone, call us.
We would be much more thankful if you called us than if you didn’t.
And I have a lot of faith in our people here, our citizens, that they’ll come forward.
Something will happen and they will come forward.
Either they’ve grown up and they’ve got a daughter now that’s 15 or a grandchild that’s
And think about Celine and remember something that they heard or they saw that gave them
a little concern back then that they didn’t want to say anything, that maybe they’ll say
Celine Eady, no matter how misguided her teen years were, did not deserve to die.
She deserved to figure out her life like we all do and have a future.
She deserved to go to beauty school and become a hairdresser, which she told her friends
and teachers was one of her goals.
And her mother, Brenda, didn’t deserve to die not knowing what happened to her daughter.
If you know anything about this horrific killing, it’s time to talk.
Call Dottie at the Richland County Cold Case Unit.
Help bring the person or people who viciously killed a sweet 15-year-old girl to justice.
It is long overdue.
You can call in any information at 1-888-CRIME-SC or 803-576-3000.
The Deck is an AudioChuck production with theme music by Ryan Lewis.
To learn more about The Deck and our advocacy work, visit thedeckpodcast.com.
So what do you think, Chuck?
Do you approve?