"They called their son and another friend at 6 p.m. Monday evening. The son spent the next few hours calling relatives and trying to reach his parents," Dallas Police Department homicide supervisor Lt. Craig Miller said.
"He kept calling them, but there was no response," Miller said. "It was rare for them to let the phone ring and go unanswered. The son called family members, who live in several states, and ultimately a relative came to the house. When they got to the location, they saw food on the table but no movement and that's when they called police."
When no one answered the door, the family member called 911 about 9:45 p.m. Paramedics arrived minutes later to find the couple dead in their bedroom at the back of the home.
A gun was found nearby and it appeared Rufus had shot his wife before killing himself, police said.
Lynn Flint Shaw was the former head of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit board. She stepped down in January amid allegations of fraud and forgery. Rufus Shaw was a well known local political pundit and blogger.
A friend and colleague of the couple's son, Ian Nicholas Shaw, was with him playing basketball at Roanoke College in Salem, Va., when the college senior, who works part-time in the athletics department, received the shocking call from his parents.
"He picked it up and began to talk quietly like he normally does with his dad. He just sat down and dropped the basketball. He said, 'Oh my God,'" Brad Moore, the school's sports information director, told the Dallas Morning News on Tuesday.
Moore told paper that Ian Shaw became upset and threw a basketball.
"From what he was saying, his dad was telling him, 'Just make sure you graduate' and 'We love you, we just don't want to go on, we just can't go on like this any more.' That is what he was saying," Moore told the News. "Then his mom got on the phone and said she loved him."
After the call, Moore said his friend returned to the dorm and later prayed with the campus chaplain and a local pastor.
The younger Shaw called his grandmother and aunt and asked them to check on his parents. He also checked his e-mail and found a message from his mother, according to Moore.
"The e-mail said, 'Here is the lawyer's number, here is the administrator's number, your auntie's number. Just tell them to take care of my baby. They will take care of you. I love you so much,'" Moore said.
Lynn Flint Shaw resigned her chairmanship of the rapid transit system in January after being accused of forging stationery from the Dallas County District Attorney's Office to avoid paying a $7,500 debt. She had been free on bond on charges of tampering with a governmental record.
Her husband wrote a regular political column on Dallasblog.com, where he recently blamed his wife's legal troubles on "the politics of destruction" and said he had "earned the hatred of a great many black political players" through his writing, The Associated Press reported.
At around the same time Rufus Shaw called his son Monday evening he also phoned his friend State Sen. Royce West of Dallas and left a message.
West reportedly did not receive the message until the next day. Calls to his office by ABC News were not returned.