02 Ethan Schmidt
Delta State University professor shot to death
01:03 - Source: WREG

Story highlights

Amy Prentiss was a loving mother who was involved with her daughter's singing career

Ethan Schmidt earned his doctorate in U.S. history at the University of Kansas in 2007

CNN  — 

He was a respected history professor who taught his favorite subject like it was front page news.

She was a loving mother who had a long-standing relationship with the man who ended her life.

They were victims, authorities say, of Shannon Lamb, a fellow professor at Delta State University in Mississippi, who fatally shot himself late Monday.

Ethan Schmidt was found dead early Monday morning in his office on the Cleveland, Mississippi, campus. He had been shot in the head. The 39-year-old was praised by university President William LaForge for his dedication to higher learning.

When LaForge met the professor a few years ago, he mistook Schmidt for a student. “He is youthful in his appearance,” LaForge recalled after a very long and agonizing day that brought terror to the small college campus as police spent hours hunting Schmidt’s killer, locking down buildings and advising everyone to avoid windows just in case.

At a midnight news conference, a weary LaForge assured that the campus was safe. By then, Lamb had shot himself in the woods near Greenville, Mississippi.

LaForge remembered Schmidt as someone who “advised a ton of students.”

He recently took over a first-year seminar program that helped students acclimate to college life.

“He was a star on our faculty,” LaForge said.

A mother who lived with Lamb

Before killing Schmidt, authorities say, Lamb killed his own girlfriend, Amy Prentiss, in Gautier, Mississippi, about 300 miles from Cleveland.

Prentiss lived on the state’s coast on and off for years, according to the Sun-Herald newspaper.

“She always wanted to help other people,” close friend Lindsay Knowles told the newspaper.

Prentiss and Lamb lived together and had been dating for about three years, Knowles said, telling the newspaper that her friend had told her about fights the couple had. Knowles said that Prentiss did not say those arguments were violent.

Lamb was a singer and Knowles said Prentiss’ teenage daughter sang backup for the alleged killer during a recent performance at a club in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

Prentiss’ LinkedIn page says she was a manager for her daughter Abigail Osteen.

A lot of Prentiss’ life revolved around her daughter and the girl’s singing career, Knowles told the newspaper.

Prentiss worked at home doing an online job, Knowles said, with her hound dog Lightning keeping her company.

She was also very involved with Oasis Church, her friend told the paper.

Pastor Eric Camp urged on Facebook for everyone to pray for Prentiss’ family and for her daughter.

“Please pray for everyone affected by this tragedy and pray justice for the one responsible,” he wrote.

Student body president in college

Schmidt’s college career started at Emporia State. He earned a bachelor’s and master’s in history at the Kansas school in 1998 and 2001, but he wasn’t just tucked away in the history department.

He served as student body president and was named a distinguished senior by the university. He was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity and two honor societies.

A former professor gushed.

“He was a remarkable student,” said Karen Manners Smith, a professor of history. “He was one of the best students I ever had and I was thrilled he went on to a career in teaching history.”

“He was on his road to being one of the great scholars of American history,” she said.

An outstanding teacher

Word of his death hit hard at Texas Tech, where Schmidt moved after earning his doctorate in U.S. history at the University of Kansas in 2007.

“He was an outstanding teacher, scholar and friend. Even more importantly, he was an incredible husband and father,” Tech history chair Sean Cunningham said on the school’s Facebook page. “We are simply crushed.”

Schmidt taught graduate and undergrad courses, focusing on American history and especially the history of Native Americans in the United States.

He won an Innovative Teaching Award in 2010 and the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching a year later.

READ: Delta State University shooting suspect Shannon Lamb kills himself

A publishing career

Schmidt’s career reached a new level when he arrived at Delta State in 2013 as an assistant professor of American history.

Early America continued to fascinate him, especially the interaction between the European colonists and the indigenous people of North America.

His research won him praise from his colleagues. He published two books and contributed articles to other publications.

“He did a tremendous job as a history professor,” said LaForge. “I thought the world of him. He was a star on our faculty at Delta State.”

Student outpouring

Perhaps Schmidt can be best judged by the students he taught and the impressions he made.

Former students filled Facebook and Twitter with their memories of the man who made history come alive for them.

“What a tragedy! I took Dr. Schmidt’s American history course as a freshman in 2008. It was one of my favorite college classes during my time at Texas Tech (I was a molecular bio major),” said Joe Herbert. “He had an amazing way of telling the story of history in a way that was at once engaging and informative.”

“One of my favorite graduate history classes was with Dr. Schmidt,” said Kylie Schaefer. “So saddened by his news.”

And from Amanda Wolfe: “He was the best history teacher, ever! My prayers go out to his family and children whom he spoke highly of, always. We will miss you Schmidt!”

READ: Who was shooting suspect Shannon Lamb?

CNN’s AnneClaire Stapleton contributed to this report.