A Louisiana woman who was featured along with her family in the 2012 reality TV show Bayou Billionaires was killed Monday in an apparent murder-suicide, according to police.
Valerie Dowden Wells was shot multiple times as she sat in her car near a McDonald’s parking lot in Shreveport, Louisiana, police Sgt. Rod Johnson tells PEOPLE.
Wells, 47, was killed by Robert Paul Gaddy, who then turned the gun on himself, Johnson says. Gaddy and Wells were both taken to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead and he later died.
“We know they had a relationship of some type, but I can’t tell you if they were friends having a dispute or formerly intimate. We simply don’t know at this moment,” Johnson says. “We have some guesses, but we’d like to back that up with hard facts.”
Gaddy “is a man [Wells] knew from high school who she recently started dating,” Brian Flanagan, Bayou Billionaires‘ executive producer, tells PEOPLE.
Kitten Dowden, Wells’ mother, texted Flanagan with the news today. “It’s complete heartbreak,” he says, and her family “is not doing well.”
Wells’ parents, Kitten and Gerald Dowden, who also starred in the show, wrote of their daughter’s death on Facebook Tuesday morning, according to KTBS.
“This is really hard on us and her children,” they reportedly wrote. “It is out of order. No parents should have to go through this.”
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Wells had pulled her car up to an area near the McDonald’s parking lot about 4 p.m., and shortly after that Gaddy walked up to a side of her vehicle before shooting her several times, Johnson tells PEOPLE.
Bayou Billionaires, which aired on CMT, focused on the Shreveport-based Dowden family’s rags-to-riches story after they discovered their home sat on a large deposit of natural gas.
Wells was a single mother to three children, Flanagan says. She worked at the public defender’s office in Mansfield, Louisiana, according to KTBS. (Her family could not immediately be reached.)
“She was a sweetheart. Valerie suffered from MS [multiple sclerosis], but she was incredibly strong,” Flanagan tells PEOPLE. “She was ill for a very long time but worked through it. She always had a smile on her face. She was sunshine walking through a room, and it’s incredibly sad news.”
Her funeral service will be Friday at noon, the station reports.