Shortly before 10:30 a.m., Dallas police Lt. Craig Miller, commander of the homicide unit, confirmed what had already become evident in the light of day: Late yesterday, Dallas Blog political columnist Rufus Shaw took a handgun and shot his wife, former Dallas Area Rapid Transit chair Lynn Flint Shaw, before turning the gun on himself. Cautioned Miller, "We're very preliminary into the investigation" and a long way off from getting results of toxicology reports. "And we're waiting to work with the medical examiner to determine their cause of death," he said. Nonetheless, said Miller, "that's what it's probably going to be" -- murder-suicide.
The Shaws were found by Dallas Fire-Rescue and police officers at 9:38 p.m. yesterday, after a local relative couldn't get the Shaws to answer their door. According to Miller, Rufus made two phone calls at 6 p.m.: one to an out-of-state relative, another to a friend. For whatever reason -- and Miller was vague about the content of the calls -- the out-of-state relative knew something was wrong based on the conversation and feared that "potentially someone would be harmed."
(Update: The Dallas Morning News has reported that it was State Sen. Royce West to whom one of those calls was placed. And according to West, "[Rufus] said that by the time you get this message, Lynn and I will be dead." In a separate story, The News is also reporting that the Shaws called their son, Ian Nicholas Shaw, and told him they were planning to end their lives.)
So the out-of-state relative called a local family member, who went to the Shaws' house at 6616 Braddock Pl. It looked like the Shaws were home: The lights were on, the car was there, dinner was on the table. Only, there was no movement in the house -- and, even more troubling, the back of the house had been boarded up, perhaps because of robberies in the neighborhood, Miller said. The relative was concerned enough to call 911.
Shortly after that, the bodies were discovered. And while it is early in the investigation, Miller said the murder-suicide ruling will likely stand. There did not appear to be forced entry. But more to the point, he said, "the location of the bodies" and the placement of the handgun suggest murder-suicide. Said Miller, it certainly appears to be the case given "the totality of circumstances," including the family members' concerns over those 6 p.m. phone calls.
Also discussed during the conference was Rufus' being treated for cancer -- which Miller said he'd heard but couldn't confirm, as "both Mr. and Mrs. Shaw were both very private people, and I don't think they necessarily shared a lot of their concerns with people outside of really themselves." He also mentioned the couple has a son who's away at college and that police are looking for other children. Miller also mentioned the couple's "legal situation." More forthcoming. --Robert Wilonsky and Sam Merten