Durham investigators said 89-year-old Lois Joyner Cannady called 911 at 11:22 p.m. to report a possible intruder in her home.
When authorities arrived at her home at 3810 Valley Dale Drive minutes later, they found her dead, apparently shot to death.
"When we arrived four minutes later, the break-in had already occurred and she was already dead," said Capt. Rich Buchanan of the Durham Sheriff's Office.
Cannady died of a single gunshot to the chest.
Police said there were no suspects in or around the house when they got there. They spent Thursday morning at the scene collecting evidence.
Family members said they spoke to Cannady Wednesday night.
Ralph Lee Cannady, Jr. said his mother had locked all the doors of her home -- something he said she had not done in 20 years.
"What right do they have to take an 89-year-old woman's life?" he said.
He also said his mother had been harrassed Wednesday morning.
"The guys sprayed her with Mace and started laughing at her," Ralph Lee Cannady, Jr. said.
The victim's car, a white 1990 Chevrolet Corsica with a blue pinstripe, was stolen from the home. Officials found the car Thursday morning at an auto parts store in Durham.
Police said nothing was stolen from inside the home.
So far, no suspects have been identified or caught.
Anyone with information is asked to call Durham County Sheriff's Office.
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