The sun was still not up on June 24 when law enforcement officials arrived at the scene of what appeared to be a car accident on U.S. Highway 67 between Stephenville and Glen Rose.
When Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Kenneth Bratton found the mangled vehicle upside down in a ditch, its engine was already cold.
"Normally, it takes a couple hours for a vehicle to cool down after it's been shut off," Bratton said.
That meant the crash had occurred early in the morning hours.
The car had run off the road and crashed into trees and a fence near the intersection of FM 51.
"A man on his way to work saw the vehicle and called it in," Bratton said.
Inside the car was a 58-year-old Korean woman from Cleburne. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Bratton and Lt. Anders Dahl of the Somervell County Sheriff's Department investigated the case. At first, investigators thought they were dealing with a traffic fatality on Chalk Mountain, an area that has been the scene of several fatal crashes over the years. Last year, a Tarleton State University student was killed on a rainy morning when her car skidded on the slick pavement and was hit by a gravel truck.
Authorities later uncovered evidence that raised questions about whether this was simply an accident. The car was in neutral. Then they found a .38-caliber pistol on the driver's side of the car. It was missing a single round.
Authorities contacted the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's office and the woman's body was taken to Fort Worth. The next day, the M.E.'s office called back. Investigators found a gunshot wound in the woman's mouth and ruled her death a suicide.
Authorities said the woman had been divorced for several years, did not have children and that her ex-husband worked at a donut shop in Cleburne. A trooper in Cleburne notified the ex-husband of her death. The woman, who was not a U.S. citizen, was in the country on a work visa.
Interviews with the woman's ex-husband and family and evidence collected at the scene painted a picture of what happened.
"We believe she had pulled over on the shoulder of the road, and was on a fairly steep hill," Bratton said. "We believe she put the car in neutral and was stationary for a moment before she shot herself. Then, of course, after she was deceased she let up on the brake and the car rolled down the hill and ran off the road."
There were no witnesses to the crash, Bratton added.
Inside the woman's purse, authorities discovered a suicide note.
"It left some detailed instruction that if anything was to happen to her to contact the ex-husband and left his name and phone number," Bratton said.
When authorities contacted him, the man said his ex-wife had a hard time adjusting to life in America.
"She was from Korea and all of her family was still in Korea," Bratton said. "She was having a hard time adjusting here and was trying to save up enough money to move herself back to Korea."
Investigators concluded the woman was not trying to make her death look like an accident.
"It was a horrible tragedy," Bratton said. "As police officers, we like to think that if we or somebody had realized she was in that state of desperation, maybe we could have gotten her some help or helped her get back home. I'm sure that we could have found some help for her if only we had known. We hate to see that."
Texan News Service is a product of Tarleton State University's broadcast and journalism program.