Police are calling the shooting a case of domestic violence, and experts say these types of homicides are on the rise.
"She was very nice. And like I say she didn’t socialize much because she was fearful of this man," said one neighbor on Pecan Drive in Marble Falls, describing the dynamic between Teresa McDowell and her ex-boyfriend William Rutland.
"The neighbors all knew something was there, there was a problem with their relationship. I think she was trying to get away from him," he said.
But she wasn’t able to.
"It was Teresa who called 911," said Marble Falls Police Chief Glenn Hanson. "During the phone call, the victim stated that the suspect had produced a firearm and was pointing it at her."
By the time police got there, they say Rutland had already pulled the trigger, fatally shooting Teresa McDowell along with her brother John McDowell. Rutland was arrested and charged with capital murder.
"I believe alcohol played a factor in it. I don’t know any backstory right now as to the history and how the relationship came about or fell apart," said
A neighbor, who didn’t want to be identified, provided some insight recalling a time he ran into the then-couple at a gas station.
"They pulled up to get gas," he said. "The next thing I know he’s arguing with her very bitterly and throws the gas nozzle on the ground and walks off and disappears into the dark."
Despite the breakup, Rutland was apparently still living at the Pecan Drive home part-time.
His 25-year rap sheet includes multiple convictions for "Assault Causing Bodily Injury Family Violence."
"Women and children are at great risk from gun violence by abusers who may not be married to the woman, may not be living with them but are harassing and threatening them with guns," said Houston Area Women’s Center president Emilee Whitehurst.
According to the Texas Council on Family Violence, these kinds of murders have nearly doubled in the past 10 years.
"People will say, ‘well why doesn’t she just leave, she should just leave, it’s so simple,’ but what we know is that when a survivor tries to leave that’s the most dangerous time and when there’s guns in the mix that’s even more lethal," said Comi Huntsman Stogner, Co-chief Program Officer for the Austin-based SAFE Alliance.
Rutland continues to be held at the Burnet County Jail on $1 million bond.
For more information on the SAFE Alliance, visit safeaustin.org. If you need help, visit safeaustin.org/chat, call 512-267-SAFE (7233) or text 737-888-SAFE (7233)
The Texas Council on Family Violence connects survivors with local agencies that can provide help. For more information, visit https://tcfv.org/