"This is the most heinous crime," said Roanoke Rapids Police Chief Greg Lawson. "It strikes at the heart of our community when something like this happens."
Lawson said robbery was the motive for the homicide. He wouldn't say how much money was missing.
The investigation is focused on Salmon's office, where he kept records on whom he loaned money to. Observers say the first of the month was always busy for Salmon. His customers came to borrow money or pay him back.
His wife found his body in his office around noon Thursday. She went to check on him when he didn't show up for lunch. Salmon was well respected and loved by the community.
"He just had a fondness in his heart for people down on their luck," said merchant Robert Brown.
"He would take his shirt off and give it to you," said insurance agent Dail Allen.
The community is shocked by the death of Salmon, whose life was taken in broad daylight within a block of the police department. Friends say they will miss his friendly smile.
"He would go down the back alley, blow the horn and wave at us," said Allen. "You'd never think somebody would come in the door to do you harm."
"He is also the person who you could call a friend and confide in," said Brown. "He was also a person who was able to observe a lot of things. He knew a lot more about the town, sometimes than the news media did, I think."
Salmon left behind a wife and two children. The family has offered a $5,000 reward for information that will lead police to the killer.
"He was a good friend, and we are going to miss him, but we aren't going to forget him," said Brown.