Woman Killed in Murder-Suicide by Abusive Boyfriend in Lobby of Downtown Houston Marriott Marquis
A Houston couple is dead after police say that a man shot his girlfriend at a downtown hotel before turning the gun on himself.
Houston police say 27-year-old Jenna Soderberg was killed by 39-year-old Sherrick Byrd last Tuesday. Witnesses in the lobby of the Marriott Marquis told police they heard the gunshots shortly after the two arrived, KHOU-TV reports.
While the motive of the murder-suicide was unclear, authorities announced last week that the two were in a dating relationship that was fraught with violence and turmoil.
Online court records obtained by PEOPLE show that Soderberg had previously filed for a protective order against Byrd.
On July 4, 2019, Byrd and Soderberg went to a Burger King in Austin. According to Soderberg's court filing, Byrd allegedly assaulted her in the parking lot, causing her to flee to the women's restroom. Byrd left the scene when Burger King employees threatened to call police.
In her filing for a protective order, Soderberg said that Byrd had previously assaulted her.
"I want this protective order because I am afraid for my safety when Sherrick is around," Soderberg wrote in her application. "The incident on July 4, 2019 showed me that Sherrick is erratic and aggressive and I am afraid of future violence. I am scared of what could happen if Sherrick is allowed to be around me and I want this protective order to keep me safe."
The restraining order was dismissed after authorities were unable to find Byrd.
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According to court records obtained by ABC-13, Byrd spent 113 days in jail earlier this year after being convicted of an attack from June 2018. According to court documents obtained by the station, officers arrived at the scene and found Soderberg at her neighbor's apartment with both of her eyes swollen shut, blood coming from a deep cut on her head and bruises on her body.
Originally charged with felony assault charges, he he pleaded guilty to a lesser domestic violence charge in Travis County.
It's unclear why Soderberg and Byrd met at the hotel, but the meeting ended in tragedy — leaving her family devastated at their sudden loss.
"Jenna Nicole Soderberg was tragically murdered by her estranged boyfriend on September 7th in Houston Texas," her family wrote on a GoFundMe intended to help bring her body home for cremation. "Her big heart thought she could save him, but instead it ended with him taking her life followed by his own. Our family is shattered by this tragedy and are in need of help bringing her and her belongings home."
If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.