Sam Houston State Student Killed in Murder-Suicide

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HUNTSVILLE (DECEMBER 4, 2006) - Rachel Pendray, a sophomore pre-nursing major from Houston, was shot to death at an apartment complex in Huntsville at 11:30 p.m. Sunday, according to Huntsville police.

The 20-year-old was killed by Jake Taylor, 24, a Houston resident who police say Pendray had known since high school.

"I'm sure if she was frightened of him, she would have called us," Sgt. Gary Howze with the Huntsville Police Department said. "He's been there before. She invited him into her apartment and into her bedroom."

Later that night, her roommates heard gunshots and called police.

Police arrived at the Brook Place Apartments minutes after Pendray's roommates called 911. They found the door locked and when no one answered they forced their way in.

Pendray had been shot multiple times. Taylor sustained a self-inflicted fatal wound.

"I don't know if he just snapped or what just happened," Howze said.

Members of Zeta Tau Alpha are remembering their sister, while a cheerleading squad is mourning the loss of one of their own, and a university is dealing with a tragedy.

"No one suspects something like that to happen," Sam Houston State University student Trey Barnes said. "It's just hard."

Initial reports had indicated Pendray was trying to break off a relationship with Taylor, who was obsessed with her, but police believe they were just friends.

Now, they'll search for answers into why two young lives ended so soon.

Rachel Pendray's dad says he had never met Taylor. Taylor's parents say they saw no signs leading up to the incident.

Pendray was also a member of Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship organization on campus, and worked at the Outback Steakhouse in Conroe. She was a graduate of Spring Woods High School in Houston.

Taylor's mom, Linda Gonzales, said her son had a history of depression, and was ironically saved by his victim in the past.

"She saved my son's life," Gonzales said. "In November, he tried to commit suicide. She's the one who called police and got them to come over here."

Less than a month ago, Jake Taylor had overdosed on sleeping pills. Rachel Pendray was there to help.

"I sent her a Christmas card last night and told her what a special gift she had given me by calling the police and saving my son," Gonzales said.

But Jake had not conquered his depression. Just two days ago, he confided with friends about what he was feeling.

"He said he's been trying to commit suicide and that he is a failure and he didn't know what to do," one of Taylor's friends said.

Rachel Pendray may have found herself in the path of that depression. Sunday night, Jake left Houston to visit his former high school classmate.

The incident has left many, including Rachel's dad, to mourn.

"She'll live on in our hearts, as well as heaven, forever," Michael Pendray said. "That's all I can tell you. She was a beautiful girl and I'm very proud of her."

Rachel was described as a bright girl whose death has shocked many, including Jake's mom, who is suffering for two.

"I feel sad, I feel sad for Rachel, I feel sad for Rachel's family," Gonzales said.

Huntsville police said they had not received reports that Taylor had battled depression.