On April 14, Glenwood Springs resident Audrey Lowndes, forty, was shot in the back of the head. She died two days later.
In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Lowndes's boyfriend/fiance, James Malin, who goes by the name McCabe, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. But he was subsequently released, and even members of Lowndes's family support his assertion that the shooting was a tragic accident instead of a slaying.
According to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, whose in-depth account we highly recommend, Lowndes faced plenty of challenges during her life, including what's described as "mistreatment by her late father while growing up [that] left her somewhat mentally disturbed" and a propensity to use alcohol as an escape.
Nonetheless, she is portrayed as loving, and much loved.
Audrey's brother Tasker, who wrote about his sister in a heartfelt post on ObitsForLife.com, characterizes Malin as a positive influence on her.
"We would like to emphasize just how much we've appreciated the effort he gave to being a loving and stabilizing force for Audrey," Tasker writes.
The couple certainly look happy in photos Audrey shared on Facebook. Here, for instance, is her profile pic:
Lowndes's death on April 16 hasn't changed her family's opinions about Malin.
"From the very first we were informed of the incident, we could not believe McCabe to be capable of such a crime, and we still hold firmly to that belief," Tasker notes in the ObitsForLife.com post. "Audrey never gave us any indication of him being cruel; in fact, he was quite the opposite. We believe this to be, instead, a very tragic accident."
Malin tells the Sentinel that he found Lowndes with his rifle, and when he tried to pull the gun away from her, it fired, with the round striking her in the back of the head.
Prior to the fatal shot, Tasker emphasizes that there was no indication of trouble between the couple. Just the opposite, in fact.
The night before, he reveals, "Audrey and McCabe called us to express how happy they were. Why? Because, with the added help and support of McCabe's father, they had worked very hard to attend the annual memorial of Christ's death at their local congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, and they met that goal successfully of their own free will. They wanted to tell us how loved they felt by all those who welcomed them and that they had received beautiful new bibles and song books. In fact, before we actually spoke with Audrey and McCabe, there was a message left on our answering machine."
The ObitsForLife.com piece includes a link to that message. To listen to it, click here.
After the shooting, police arrested Malin, resulting in the following booking photo:
Now, however, Malin is free as police continue the investigation
"I really hope that they see the truth, that this was just a tragic accident," Malin tells the Sentinel. He stresses that he could never have hurt Audrey, who he calls "my heart and soul."
Our condolences to Audrey's friends, family and loved ones.
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Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our News archive circa May 2013: "Anastasia Adair accidentally kills herself with new assault rifle."