A judge in New Mexico and several of her pets were shot dead in what police say they believe was a murder-suicide by her husband.
Police found the bodies of Diane Albert, 65, Eric Pinkerton, 63, and "several dead animals" inside their home on Ranchitos Road in Los Ranchos De Albuquerque on Friday after a friend of the couple got "a troubling message from Eric Pinkerton," the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office tweeted.
Authorities believe Pinkerton shot Albert and the animals before he turned the gun on himself, the sheriff’s office said.
KOAT-TV of Albuquerque reported that a dispatch from a sheriff's deputy said: “He left a voicemail to his friend stating that he murdered his wife and his dogs and his cat. And he is about to murder himself.”
Sheriff’s spokesperson Jayme Fuller confirmed the dispatch to NBC News.
Albert was a judge in Los Ranchos Municipal Court. She was a practicing patent attorney who had previously served as a planning and zoning commissioner for the North Valley area, as a Los Alamos County commissioner and as president of the Bike Coalition of New Mexico, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
A friend of Albert’s told the newspaper that she had recently re-enrolled at the University of New Mexico to study French. A university representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Local officials mourned Albert's death. State Auditor Brian Colón said in a tribute on Facebook: "Diane always entered our home with a smile and usually wearing her bicycle helmet. What a loss. Rest in peace and know you spread goodness near and far."
Los Ranchos Village Administrator Ann Simon told the Journal, “We are heartsick hearing the news of this senseless tragedy.”
Simon called Albert "a brilliant mind, and a friend."
"We can’t ignore that this happened on the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women," Simon added, referring to the annual observance the United Nations established in 2008.
The killings marked the third fatal incident of domestic violence in the Albuquerque area over Thanksgiving weekend, the Journal reported.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence or the threat of domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or go to www.thehotline.org for anonymous, confidential online chats, available in English and Spanish. Individual states often have their own domestic violence hotlines as well.
Advocates at the National Domestic Violence Hotline field calls from both survivors of domestic violence as well as individuals who are concerned that they may be abusive toward their partners.