Anderson County sheriff’s authorities continue to investigate an apparent murder-suicide earlier this week claiming the lives of two Palestine residents.

Justin William Riddle, 19, and Rachel Hickman, 23, both of Palestine, had been involved in “an on-again, off-again” relationship, according to Troy Black, chief deputy of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office.

The couple was discovered in a 1981 Chevrolet pickup shortly after midnight Monday on CR 1406, approximately 4 miles south of Palestine and just off of U.S. 287, according to authorities.

Both subjects had been shot once in the head.

Hickman was pronounced dead at the scene, while Riddle died Monday afternoon — roughly 14 hours later — at a Tyler hospital.

Although it could be weeks before forensic analysis becomes available, investigators are speculating that Riddle first shot Hickman with a semi-automatic rifle and then turned the weapon on himself.

“She (Hickman) had a single gunshot wound to the left side of her head,” Black said. “He (Riddle) had a single gunshot wound to the right side of his side.”

When deputies arrived, Riddle was situated on the vehicle’s driver’s side, while Hickman was on the passenger’s side which “would be consistent” with authorities’ theory surrounding the shootings.

Anderson County sheriff’s authorities initially indicated the incident was being investigated as a “capital murder/suicide” based on information that Hickman was pregnant at the time of her death.

On Thursday, Black told the Herald-Press that a representative of the Dallas County medical examiner’s office informed local authorities late Wednesday afternoon that was not the case.

“Forensic evidence has indicated that the female subject, Rachel Hickman, was not pregnant at the time of her death contrary to original information given sheriff’s investigators during the initial investigation,” Black said.

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Paul Stone may be contacted via e-mail at pstone@palestineherald.com

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