The ex-boyfriend of a Pasco woman broke into the home they once shared and shot her in the head before turning the gun on himself, officials said at a news conference Thursday.
Monique Williams, 29, and Aaron Newport, 36, were found dead Monday side by side on a bed in a bedroom after police were called to check on them, said Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant. Both had single gunshot wounds to the head.
Investigators are calling the deaths a murder-suicide, saying Newport broke in through a dog door sometime in the morning last Saturday and fought with Williams, a nurse at Kadlec Regional Medical Center, before shooting her.
"One handgun and two shell casings were recovered from the scene," Sant said. "Monique has injuries consistent with defensive wounds. Evidence of the struggle appears to be limited to the master bedroom area."
Officials would not talk about Williams' defensive wounds. They also said they didn't know if the gun was registered to Newport.
There were no signs Williams was sexually assaulted and authorities did not find a suicide note, Sant said.
It could be weeks before more information on the case is released and the investigation is ongoing, officials said at the Franklin County Courthouse in a room crowded with Williams' friends.
Williams apparently had stopped seeing Newport after about a year of dating and was living alone at her house on Redonda Drive near Road 68, Sant said.
"Information to date indicates that Monique and Aaron had recently broken up and that Aaron was going through a difficult time over the breakup," the prosecutor said.
The prosecutor's office officially classified Williams' death as a domestic violence homicide -- the second in the Tri-Cities in nine months.
Friends of Williams told the Herald they are taking her death hard and it is too soon to talk about it. A candlelight vigil for her is planned at 8:30 p.m. today at John Dam Plaza in Richland.
A Facebook page to honor Williams, set up by her friends, had more than 2,300 likes by Thursday night. They posted pictures of Williams at the beach, smiling at an amusement park and relaxing at the pool.
They described her as a caring woman, a dedicated nurse and someone who loved her dog, Jersey.
"She has left behind her family and friends and none of us can seem to grasp the tragedy that has taken her away from us," a friend posted on the page. "Her life was stolen but will not be forgotten. The people that love Monique will not be quiet in speaking for her and we will fight for her."
Williams had worked at Kadlec since 2007 in almost every unit of the hospital, including the emergency department and intensive care, said hospital spokesman Jim Hall. She most recently worked in the cardiac catheterization laboratory.
Co-workers have struggled to come to grips with her death and will always remember the difference she made in the lives of the patients she cared for, Hall said.
"Monique is deeply missed by our Kadlec family, especially the colleagues and friends who knew her best," he said. "She was widely respected and a brilliant nurse who accomplished so much at a young age."
There have been 39 domestic-violence related homicides in Benton and Franklin counties since 1998, said Erinn Gailey, program director for Domestic Violence Services of Benton & Franklin Counties. The victims include 25 women, nine men and five children.
In September, Rebeca Vandeventer, a mother of two, was stabbed to death in her Richland apartment with her children nearby. Her ex-boyfriend, Lawrence A. Miller, is charged with second-degree murder with four aggravating circumstances.
Newport had a history of domestic violence dating back to a former relationship with his ex-wife, records show.
He was convicted in 2008 of fourth-degree assault and first-degree criminal trespass in connection with going into her apartment and biting, choking and threatening to kill her. He was sentenced to a year in jail.
Gailey said Newport's history of domestic violence and the pair's recent breakup made Williams more vulnerable to abuse. Victims of domestic violence are more likely to be killed during or after a breakup, she said.
"Part of that is the dynamics of an abuser who doesn't want to let their partner go," Gailey said. "Even if someone is taking actions to end a scary or bad relationship, it may be when they need the help most."