The bodies of an 85-year-old woman and her 61-year-old daughter, both of whom had been stabbed repeately, were found yesterday in their neat brick row house just north of the Howard University campus.
Noting that some of the victims' property was found outside their house at 636 Keefer Pl. NW. D.C. police theorized that the women, Helen Lyons and her daughter, Baylisle Burchett, may have been killed by a burgler.
The time of death could not be determined immediately. Neighbors on the quiet street that runs east from Georgia Avenue said they last saw Lyons about 7 p.m. Thursday.
Lyons was identified as a one-time school teacher in North Carolina who was the widow of a cement finisher. The daughter was described as a retired Coast Guard employe.
According to police and neighbors, the bodies were discovered shortly before 3 p.m. yesterday, after neighbors saw the back door of the house open and found a credit card and keys belonging to one of the victims about a block away.
Lyon's body was found leaning against the front door of the house where, according to relatives, she had lived since 1948. The daughter's body was found upstairs.
Both died of "multiple stab wounds," apparently inflicted with a knife, which was not found, according to Lt. Thomas Novak of the fourth police district.
Although there were indications of possible burglary including purses found near the house, Novak said, the condition of the interior of the house did not show sings of any major struggle.
A neighbor, Heartease Rudd, said she was in her house a few doors away shortly before 3 p.m. when she heard screams outside.
Apparently, she said, they came from another neighbor, who had summoned police to the Lyons house. When Rudd reached the door of the Lyons house, she said, it was opened from inside by a policeman.
When the door opened, she said, she saw Lyon's body.
"There she was," she said "lying in the front door." Apparently, she said, letters had been inserted in the house's mail chute, and there was "mail all over her."
Rudd said she told the policeman another woman lived in the house. He said he had already found her.
"I said, 'Is she . . .'?"
"He said, 'Yeah . . .'"
Police said both women had been stabbed in the upper chest. Deputy D.C. Medical Examiner Dr. Brian L. Blackbourne said autopsies would be performed.
According to relatives and neighbors, the women lived quietly in the brick house that they sometimes shared with a nephew of the mother.
During the summers they spent much of the time at a country house in Shadyside, Md., relatives said.
Lyons' husband, Cephas, died last year after a stroke, the relatives said. They said he was in his late 80s.
It was a "very quiet family," and Mrs. Lyon was "a friendly, nice person," said a Keefer Place neighbor.
The street, with its well-kept homes and carefully tended lawns, is a quiet one, said another neighbor, who has lived there 17 years.
"It's the first occasion since I've been here that there's been anything of this nature," she said.
Police said last night they had no suspects.