Authorities are calling last week's death of a Dawsonville woman and her special needs teenage son a murder-suicide.
Dawson County Sheriff's spokesman Capt. Tony Wooten said authorities believe Nina Hicks, 53, shot and killed her 14-year-old son, Dustin Hicks, before turning the gun on herself.
Their bodies were found Thursday in the basement of their southeastern Dawson County home near Ga. 400 in the Biscayne subdivision.
"We were contacted to do a welfare check at the residence by a family member," Wooten said. "After forcibly having to enter the residence, two bodies were discovered by responding deputies."
The son reportedly had severe mental and physical disabilities. The two lived in the home alone.
"The father called 9-1-1, saying his normal scheduled visitation was on Thursday at the residence. He went to the residence and tried to make contact, but couldn't make contact with anybody and didn't hear any sounds from inside the house," Wooten said. "He described this as being unusual because Thursday is his normal visitation."
Authorities have not revealed how long they believe the woman and teen had been deceased.
Greg Moffitt, a volunteer with the Atlanta Sparks special needs hockey program, said he knew the family and had worked one-on-one with Dustin.
"I skated with Dustin several times before they quit coming to the program," he said.
He recalled a time when the single mother was struggling to tie her son's skates.
"She was ready to give up and go home. I stopped, helped finish getting him dressed and we took the ice," Moffitt said. "Dustin was very excited. Although mostly, non-verbal, he kept repeating ‘hockey, hockey, hockey.'"
Investigators said Hicks wrote about her son's medical issues and the difficulties she had handling them in a note she left behind.
Moffitt said he wished he could have done more to help.
"I'm very saddened to learn of their deaths," he said.