Local News

State, Local Authorities Search for Clues in...

Posted June 4, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Lumberton police are having trouble identifying the two victims if a suspected double murder Wednesday afternoon. Early reports indicate the bodies were badly burned, but detectives have not yet confirmed that suspicion.

There was a fire at the scene, possibly set to cover up a crime. Investigators won't say much about what they found, except that there are signs of murder.

Lumberton police called in the SBI to help with the investigation. State agents searched inside and out for clues and answers to what happened at the McArthur Street residence.

Lumberton Police Chief Harry Dolan says a home health care nurse summoned for help after discovering smoke at the scene. Inside, 78-year old Elizabeth Baxley and 57-year old Sam Braswell were dead. Both lived in the home.

Family, friends and neighbors gathered around in disbelief. One of those grieving is a Nyra Britt. Britt says she used to help the couple clean house. They were always good to her-- two of the best people she had ever known.

Police won't comment on a motive, but a broken window pane above a lock may be an important clue. Some suspect a break-in may have turned deadly.

If it is murder, neighbors say they hope whoever did it is caught. Britt says she'd volunteer to pull the string on the electric chair. Another neighbor, Maxine Townsend, is shocked something so terrible could happen so close to her own home in a community many characterize as quiet and safe.

The victim's bodies will be sent to Chapel Hill Thursday for autopsies. Investigators are looking for positive identifications and the exact cause of death. At this point, there are no suspects in the case.