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Man Held Without Bond In South Carolina Elementary School Principal's Shooting

Dr. Wendy Cook, who had been the principal at Stewart Heights Elementary in Dillon, South Carolina, was shot and killed last week. Police have arrested Kyle Church in her death.

By Dorian Geiger
Killer Motive: What Drives People To Kill?

A man accused in last week’s fatal shooting of a South Carolina elementary school principal last week made his initial court appearance this week.

Kyle Church, 31, was remanded to custody after a judge arraigned him during a formal court appearance on Monday morning, according to Florence, South Carolina station WPDE. A bond hearing wasn’t set.

Church is charged with murder and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime in the killing of 54-year-old Dr. Wendy Cook. 

Deputies responded to 1801 Southwind Road following reports of a shooting on Aug. 21. Authorities found Cook suffering from a gunshot wound in the front passenger seat of an SUV. Her death was ruled a homicide.

Church, who had been drinking at the time of the alleged murder, was arrested near the scene of the shooting, according to a police report, WPDE reported. He allegedly provided investigators with few details related to the deadly shooting. 

Law enforcement hasn’t disclosed a motive in Cook’s slaying and no other information has been released by authorities. 

According to Cook’s family, however, Church and Cook had been in a relationship. The former teacher’s loved ones also  alleged Church had previously abused the South Carolina principal.

A personal photo of Dr. Wendy Cook

Cook worked as the principal of Stewart Heights Elementary in Dillon, South Carolina. Since her death, condolences have poured in from educators across the state.

“Walking in the school today, you know, you just feel her presence,” Superintendent Ray Rogers told WPDE.

Rogers said Cook had been a district employee for almost 25 years.

“Just in shock,” Rogers added. “You know, disbelief, knowing what a dynamic administrator she was and dynamic person, how she loves her kids, how she worked with the Stewart Heights family, teachers. It was just unbelievable. Pray for us, because we got our hands full.”

A police handout of Kyle Church

South Carolina State Superintendent Molly Spearman also memorialized Cook in a Facebook post on Aug. 22.

“Her colleagues and friends in Dillon County School District 4 talk about the great work she did leading her school and the many impacts she had on her students and staff,” Spearman said in the social media statement. “My deepest condolences are with the entire Dillon school community as they grieve this loss.”

Church’s next court appearance is set for Oct. 5, per court records. The 31-year-old is currently being held at the Dillon County Detention Center.