Houston police say the men, who were in the midst of a divorce, died in a murder-suicide inside a million-dollar home near the Galleria.
Their bodies were discovered Thursday inside a bathroom at their home on Markham Street near Weslayan.
"It's not truly set in yet," said Ben's longtime friend, Edward Sanchez. "I think deep down inside I'm waiting to hear from him."
Sanchez said the couple helped pave the path for the Houston gay community. Ben was a cosmetics director at Laura Mercier.
"They were really kind of pillars of the community when they decided they were going to get married. This was before gay marriage was legal in the United States, this was before it was even legal to get a marriage license in Houston," Sanchez said.
WATCH: What investigators know of the couple's deaths
Investigators said police were called to the home for a welfare check after a close and longtime friend of the couple got a disturbing text.
Police say the cause of death is a murder-suicide.
Eyewitness News learned the couple, who have been common law married since 1996, have a marriage license from 2016 but recently filed for divorce in March.
"I knew that they amicably decided that they weren't going to be together," Sanchez said.
A shocking death of beloved Houston couple Ben & Rene Ruiz, found dead inside their Afton Oaks neighborhood home. A friend describes them as pillars in the gay community. Hear from the friend at 4pm on @abc13houston. pic.twitter.com/dU1USmw6wy— Shelley Childers (@shelleyabc13) May 4, 2018
Police wrapping murder-suicide investigation at home on Markham Street pic.twitter.com/imOD00TCYv— Jeff Ehling (@JeffEhlingABC13) May 4, 2018
Sanchez says there was never any indication of anger or tension that would lead to violence on this scale.
"I hope that they find peace. They deserve that, they deserve to have peace," Sanchez said.
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