CLARKESVILLE, Ga. - Investigators believe the husband of former state Sen. Nancy Schaefer shot her in the back and then killed himself in their bedroom at home, authorities said Saturday.
The couple's bodies were found in their north Georgia home on Friday in an apparent murder-suicide.
Investigators concluded that Bruce Schaefer, 74, shot her once in the back in the bedroom and then shot himself in the head, Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokesman John Bankhead said in a prepared statement.
Bankhead said investigators found a handgun near Bruce Schaefer's body and several letters written by Schaefer to family members, including a suicide note.
"We are grieving over this indescribable loss of our parents who we all adored," the Schaefer family said in a statement. "Our parents were extremely loving and caring people who took great joy in helping those in need."
Nancy Schaefer, 73, was a Republican who represented a north Georgia district for two terms. She was a prominent conservative known as a vocal opponent of abortion and same-sex marriage.
State Rep. Rick Austin announced her death to a packed House chamber Friday night and led lawmakers in a moment of silence.
"Nancy Schaefer was a great lady, and she served Georgia and her constituents with honor and grace," Austin, a Republican from Demorest, said.
State Sen. Don Thomas told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he knew the couple well and that he believed Bruce Schaefer was suffering from cancer.
Authorities believe Nancy Schaefer was asleep when she was shot, probably sometime Friday morning, Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell told The Times newspaper of Gainesville.
The sheriff said that "some financial problems were mentioned" in the notes left behind by Bruce Schaefer.
"That might have been one reason," Terrell told the Gainesville newspaper.
Schaefer moved to Turnerville after more than three decades in Atlanta, where she was a former candidate for mayor. She was also GOP nominee for lieutenant governor in 1994.
In 1986, Schaefer founded a nonprofit foundation, Family Concerns Inc., which focused on opposition to abortion and the display of the Ten Commandments in public buildings.