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Sheriff: Missing woman found in well was strangled

DA to seek death penalty on boyfriend

COLUMBUS — The woman who was discovered in a well in February died by strangulation, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, and the district attorney said Wednesday he is seeking the death penalty.

Jeremy Lynn Bradshaw, 34, of  Winwood Drive, Columbus, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder on Tuesday, according to sheriff reports.

Jeremy Lynn Bradshaw

The sheriff’s office and 29B District Attorney Greg Newman held a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, giving details to the public about the murder.

Newman said he will seek the death penalty in the case.

Karen Denise Jenkins, 46, went missing from the Landrum area in November 2017.

The Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office contacted the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in January, stating that Jenkins was last seen in Polk County.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office took over the investigation, with Jenkins body found in an old well in February, located on the property of Bradshaw’s grandmother’s home, off Old Highway 19 in the Lynn community.

Bradshaw told Capt. B.J. Bayne he would take her to the body and claimed Jenkins died of an overdose in his home in November.

Newman said Bradshaw is now a named and identified defendant and the case will be presented to a grand jury on April 23.

He said according to North Carolina statutes, aggravating factors must be present for a suspect to be considered for the death penalty, and in this case he believes Bradshaw’s case qualifies.

“It will be a death penalty case,” Newman said.

He said aggravating factors include the consideration of the manner of death and how the body of the deceased was treated.

“We certainly have one that comes to mind and stands out,” Newman said.

He said he will be requesting a jury trial in the case and the case meets the requirements for the death penalty because of the atrocious, heinous or cruel behavior.

Bayne answered questions during the press conference, saying Jenkins’ cause of death, according to the autopsy, was strangulation. Bayne added that Jenkins’ hyoid bone in the neck was broken.

She said Bradshaw had bonded out of jail on charges of concealing a death and obstruction of justice. She said officers arrested him Tuesday afternoon, as Bradshaw was leaving his Winwood Drive home.

Bradshaw had his first appearance in Polk County District Court Wednesday morning, where Judge Emily Cowan denied him bond. Bradshaw retained Scott Sheffron, with Sheffron Bradley & Associates, as his attorney.

Bayne said Bradshaw and Jenkins had been in a relationship for about two years. She also said Jenkins made some bad choices in life, but was really loved by her family. She had five children, ranging from ages 9 to 25. Bayne and Polk County Sheriff Donald Hill said the family — Jenkins’ father and her stepsister — came to Columbus yesterday from Tennessee to speak with the sheriff’s office.

Hill said the sheriff’s office brought the family in out of respect to them, prior to arresting Bradshaw, to let them know what was going on. Bayne said although Jenkins may have made some bad choices in life, she was really loved by her family and was still her father’s little girl.

Hill asked people to keep both families in their thoughts, both the victim’s and the suspect’s.

Hill thanked the Tryon Police Department and town of Tryon Public Works crews for their help, saying the Tryon maintenance crew provided equipment to discover the body. He also thanked Spartanburg County Chuck Wright for his assistance, DA Newman and his office, saying it is nice to make a call and the assistant district attorney assists the county on the spot.

Bayne said it is believed Jenkins was killed sometime between Nov. 15 and Nov. 17, 2017. She also said it is believed Jenkins body was disposed of in the well shortly after her death.

In answering questions, Hill and Bayne both said they are familiar with Bradshaw, as he has a local criminal record. Hill said Bradshaw had a pending charge for a concealed weapon and Bayne added he also had a drug charge.

“He’s been in and out of jail,” Hill said.