Neighbors can't comprehend actions of man who ran down mourners at graveside funeral

Neighbors can't comprehend actions of man who ran down mourners at graveside funeral

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Neighbors can't comprehend the actions of a man who ran down mourners at a graveside funeral.

James Kester, 64, is being held on a $5 million bond at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center. Authorities believe Kester acted with intent when he drove his car into a group of mourners at a funeral Wednesday afternoon.

Some of Kester's neighbors painted a picture of a broken man who for months had one thing on his mind - taking action against a state department.

Kester's last known address is on Kennedy Street in Columbia. Many of the residents say he kept to himself, but can't comprehend the actions of this incomprehensible crime.

"This was just a horrific act," Jenna Stephens said.  "I lived across the street from Jimmy for 14 years and I didn't know him well he kept to himself."

Stephens says in all Kester lived in the home most of his life. In recent years his daughter, Joy Elizabeth Kester, lived with him. But one year ago she died after suffering injuries in an electrical fire. 

"He has been extremely distraught since then," Stephens said. "My heart has been breaking for him for a year now since the fire. His daughter was his world."

According to her obituary, Joy Elizabeth was buried at Greenlawn Memorial. But neighbors say one year after her death, her father carried something with him.

That, they say, was sheer resentment against the Department of Mental Health.

According to them, Joy received care with the department at some point in the 1990s. During that time she was separated from her father. Many say the separation was all he would talk about. During his court appearance, Kester tried to bring it up again.

"They wouldn't let me check my daughter for 600 days and I just said, 'Well, I need to see her,'" he said during court.

Still what's not clear is why the 64-year-old allegedly picked the funeral of a longtime worker at the department of mental health to exact revenge.

The funeral where Kester allegedly drove a car into mourners on Wednesday was for Margaret Livingston. According to witnesses, Kester asked guests who the service was for before he drove his car into the mourners.

It is still not clear however if Kester knew Livingston in any direct way.

WIS also spoke to James Kester's brother and sister-in-law. They said at this time their thoughts and prayers are also with the victims of Wednesday's incident.

A fundraiser has been established for the victims of this incident. If you wish to contribute, click here.

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