South Carolina native, Ashley Pegram was never seen alive again after she went on a date with a guy she met on a dating app in 2015. Over a month later, she was found dead, and her date, Edward Bonilla was a suspect.
Who Was Ashley Pegram?
Ashley Nicole Pegram was a native of Summerville, South Carolina. She was the mother of three small children, and lived with her mother. She was 28 in 2015 when she was killed.
Pegram met a guy through the dating app called “Meet Me.” She went on a date with him in 2015, but never returned.
More than a month after her family reported her missing, Pegram’s corpse was found in a wooded area in Harleyville. Her date, Edward Bonilla, was arrested and charged with her murder.
Who Is Edward Bonilla?
Edward Bonilla was 30 years old at the time of his arrest. He came into contact with Pegram through the “Meet Me” app, where e went by the online name, “Emoney Bon.”
They kept in touch through Kik Messenger, and went on a date on April 3, 2015. Pegram was never seen alive after that date.
Police investigating her disappearance zeroed in on Bonilla as a prime suspect through his cell phone records. They interviewed him and found his account of the date’s events to be inconsistent.
He was finally arrested and initially charged with obstruction of justice. Investigators soon found blood in his car, and around his home. The evidence matched Pegram’s DNA profile, and led to Bonilla being charged with her murder.
While he was being held without bond, police found Pegram’s body in a shallow grave in a wooded area in May 2015. Reports say that she died of “homicidal violence.”
His ex testified in court that he was capable of being forceful. She said that they broke up when Bonilla was getting “too pushy.”
Bonilla was found guilty of Pegram’s death, and was sentenced to life in prison.
Edward Bonilla’s Trial
Initially, no motive was established while Bonilla was awaiting trial. Pegram was found with electric tape wrapped around her head and wrists. An autopsy revealed that she suffered blunt force trauma to the head.
There was evidence of strangulation, too. Alcohol and muscle-relaxing drugs were also found in her bloodstream. She was possibly sexually assaulted, but the medical examiner couldn’t confirm this, because of the body’s decomposed state.
Bonilla’s cell phone records place him at Pegram’s residence and near Harleyville on the night of their date. Investigators also looked at Pegram’s “Meet Me” profile, and her Kik messages. Pegram and Bonilla had been conversing since March.
At the trial, Bonilla didn’t deny killing Pegram, but said it was an accident. His attorney, Russell Hilton, admitted that his client made “a series of choices that makes this case look real bad,” but the death was accidental. He was urging the jury to consider an involuntary manslaughter charge.
Prosecutors, however, argued that he drugged, raped, and beat Pegram to death. They alleged that he tried to hide the body until cadaver dogs found her.
Bonilla Claims It Was an Accident
Edward Bonilla took the stand to finally reveal what happened the night he met Pegram. He claimed that they went to a party at his brother’s house, and had a few drinks.
— Leigh Scovill (@leighscovill) May 23, 2018
He drove Pegram home after she accused him of stealing her mother’s cell phone. She then said that she needed to use the bathroom, and stepped out of the car. That’s when he claimed he accidentally hit her with the car.
That allegedly made Pegram furious, and she kicked his car. When their fight got violent, he maintained that he tried to restrain her in a choke hold. That’s when she was strangled, and died in his arms.
Bonilla said in his testimony that he tried to hide the body out of panic. He first left her at the side of the road, but returned with a van to move her body. Pegram was bleeding from the head, so Bonilla taped a plastic bag around her head before loading her in the van.
He initially told investigators that he dropped Pergram off at a gas station. He confessed on the stand that he sent fake messages on Kik to Pergram’s phone to create a credible story.
“It never entered my mind to harm someone,” Bonilla said in court, “It was an accident, an accident influenced by the way she was acting.”
The jury found Edward Bonilla guilty of murder, and Judge Doyet Early sentenced him to life in prison without parole.