Jennifer Rice, 36, left her job at Chicken Express in Hico shortly after 9 p.m. Saturday. An hour later she was dead.
The single mother of five was shot in the head by her ex-husband, Kai Hilbert, 41, during a family gathering at his home on U.S. Highway 67. Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant said Hilbert met Rice in the front yard as she pulled into the driveway, and the two began to argue.
"A child attending the event saw the suspect take her to the ground and ran inside the house," Bryant said.
The suspect's sister told investigators that she heard a single gunshot and looked outside and saw Rice bleeding from her head, Bryant said.
"The suspect then pointed the gun at his sister and she ducked and got the children out of the way," Bryant said. "A few moments later, there was a second shot."
Rice died instantly, and Hilbert died while he was being airlifted to a Fort Worth hospital.
Rice's coworkers were in shock Monday after hearing the news.
Daniel Garrett, owner of Chicken Express in Hico, said Rice had worked there as an assistant manager for at least six years.
"She was a great lady, very outgoing and generous," Garrett said. "She was very motherly and always offered advice to her coworkers and helped them whenever they needed her."
In fact, Garrett said the single mother often gave clothes and diapers to struggling coworkers.
In the days leading up to her death, Garrett said nothing seemed amiss in Rice's life.
"Everything seemed fine," he said. "She had an on-and-off again relationship with (Hilbert) but nothing seemed wrong."
Rice graduated from Hico High School in 1993, and lived in Carlton with her children - four sons and one daughter. Her oldest child is 16 and her youngest are 2-year-old twins. Hilbert is the father of three of the kids.
Hilbert graduated from Evant High School and worked as an industrial maintenance technician at Pal-Con Ltd. from November 2010 until May.
Kellie Herrmann, a company representative, said his last day was May 13. She would not say if he was terminated or resigned.
Family members told investigators that Hilbert had been suffering from depression, Bryant said.
A complicated relationship
Chief Investigator Jason Upshaw is leading the case and said he is still in the process of gathering details surrounding the couple's "complicated relationship."
Facebook postings between the two show they were still in close communication and had recently spent time together. They both posted several quotes about love and the difficulty of relationships.
On Rice's Facebook page, she wrote "The hottest love has the coldest end," and "Pleasure of love only lasts but a moment, Pain of love lasts for a lifetime."
On May 30, Rice posted about a swimming and fishing outing the day before.
"Yeah and thanks enjoyed it and you. sorry you got so sunburned," Hilbert responded
On June 2, Rice's final post, she wrote, "Have u ever noticed how negative people drain u and positive people boost ur energy?"
Hilbert's Facebook page shows he, too, might have been tormented by a past relationship.
"A real relationship, Has fights. Has trust. Has faith. Has tears. Has hurt. Has sweet smiles. Has genuine laughter. Has snorts because of his laughter. Has weird, stupid, unnecessary arguments. Has patience. Has communication. Has secrets. Has jealousy," he wrote.
Hilbert's body has been taken to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office and investigators are waiting on toxicology reports.