On Wednesday evening, Gary and Jackie Skelton had dinner with friends before returning home to their stately home on 10 wooded acres in rural Leggett, North Carolina.
Gary, 70, a retired banker and the mayor of the tiny town of 57, and wife Jackie, 66, an oncology nurse, had recently visited Georgia to babysit their grandchildren. But they always enjoyed returning to the five-bedroom home with the in-ground pool, which they bought 15 years ago and where they often entertained friends, their pastor told local station WTVD.
But their dream property is also where the Skeltons were found Thursday dead from gunshot wounds.
At a Friday press conference, Edgecombe County Sheriff Cleveland “Clee” Atkinson Jr. did not discuss motive or exactly where the couple’s bodies were found on the property.
Police were called to the home to perform a welfare check, requested by Jackie’s co-workers when she failed to show up for work at Vidant Edgecombe Hospital in Tarboro, WTVD reports.
An investigation quickly led police to two suspects: Keith Earl Williams, 25, and Mitchell Brinson, 18, both of Tarboro, who were taken into custody shortly after the bodies were discovered, according to WTVD. They were arrested and charged with first-degree murder, the station reported.
They are being held without bond at the Edgecombe County Jail.
At the news conference, Atkinson said police “were able to solve this double-homicide in less than eight hours.”
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Williams had previously been convicted of two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and felony possession of a firearm by a felon stemming from a 2016 shooting. He was released from prison on Aug. 28, eight days before the Skeltons deaths.
On Saturday, the sheriff’s office announced on Facebook that it had arrested a third suspect in the double-murders. Dakeithia Nesha Andrews, 31, of Rocky Mount, is charged with conspiracy robbery with dangerous weapon.
She is being held at the Edgecombe County Jail on a secured $100,000 bond.
It is unclear whether any of the suspects has retained an attorney who can comment on their behalf.
Atkinson said police will not immediately release more information because of the ongoing investigation.
PEOPLE’s calls to the Edgecombe Sheriff’s Office for comment were not immediately returned.
“The Epitome of Good People’
As police continue to investigate, the community is reeling from the shock of the deaths. Friends say the Skeltons — who leave behind three sons and six grandchildren — were known to be outgoing and generous.
“This was a senseless act,” Pastor Michael Cloer of Englewood Baptist Church told WTVD.
Cloer added, “They came here because they wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle. They bought a big home, remodeled it, they loved to entertain guests, they were just outgoing, friendly, community people.”
Leggett town commissioner Teresa Summerlin told The Charlotte Observer, “I can’t say enough good about them. They were the epitome of good people.”
The couple moved to Leggett 20 years ago, Summerlin said.
“It’s devastating,” Summerlin said. “It’s nauseating. This community has lost two very special people.”
Detectives ask those with any information on the case to call the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office at 252-641-7911 or email Lieutenant Muse at firstname.lastname@example.org.