Lula Stevens shook her head sadly as she gazed at the neat white clapboard house next door. "It's just the worst thing that's ever happened here," she said with a sigh.
The community has been turned "upside down," as Stevens put it today, by the discovery of the brutal -- and still unexplained -- murders of elderly twin sisters in the small white house. Police will say only that the deaths, discovered by a relative yesterday, were double homicides and that they have suspects.
Another official close to the investigation offered a different story. "There just aren't any clues," he said. "We're really baffled."
Those contrasting stories today heightened the fears of the 12 familes who call Golansville home. The hamlet, 80 miles south of Washington, is hardly more than a crossroads along U.S. Rte. 1.
"We're just scared to death because nobody saw anything," said Stevens, who until recently ran a grocery store, one of two businesses in the community.
"Everybody knows everybody here," Stevens said. "Golansville is the kind of place where you stand on one side of the street and spit on the other."
Indeed, Golansville' dozen homes, all modest frame dwellings similar to the house occupied by the twins, line only a-quarter-of-a-mile stretch of the highway. Until a parallel stretch of Interstate 95 opened about 20 years ago there was plenty of traffic -- and business -- for the community.
"I don't think a stranger would just come off the road and do this," said Shirley Green, Stevens' niece who lives with her husband in a house a quarter of a mile from the house where the bodies of 72-year-old Martha Corker and her twin Mary Carneal, were found. "We really think it's someone in this area," Green said.
In Richmond, Virginia state police Sgt. Carl Deaver, who was called to the scene after the bodies were discovered by John Acors, the twins' younger brother, said an autopsy revealed that both women had died as a result of multiple stab wounds to the chest.
Stevens said that Acors had told her that he found Mary Carneal's body lying face down in a hallway near the kitchen. According to Stevens there was blood on the woman's blouse and on the floor.
The nude body of Martha Corker was found lying face down on a bed.
State Medical Examiner, Dr. M. H. Fierro said that the women, who had last been seen alive Sunday as they returned from church, had been dead for several days. Fierro said tests were being conducted to determine whether they had been sexually assaulted.
Deaver, who is conducting the murder investigation in conjunction with the Caroline County sheriff's department, declined comment on any details of the case. "All I'll say is that there are suspects and the investigation is continuing. I don't want to jeopardize this case," he said.
The deaths troubled friends and relatives of the twin sisters, both widows who lived together in the well-kept house owned by Carneal's son for more than 20 years.
"They didn't keep much money around and they didn't have much anyway," said Helen Acors, the twins' sister-in-law who was with her husband when he discovered the bodies.
Acors said she and her husband went to the house after Stevens telephoned to say that neighbors had not seen the women for several days. According to Acors, there was no sign of forced entry.
"I'm just so ashamed I didn't go up there sooner," Stevens said. "We just knew something was wrong because nobody had seen them since church, but I thought they might be visiting. When I peeked in the house I couldn't see anything, but then I saw three days' worth of mail in the box and I knew something had happened.
"They were very particular about their mail," Stevens recalled. "It was the main thing they had to do, writing letters." Relatives said that the women frequently wrote to Carneal's three children and grandchildren, most of them lived out of state. Corker had no children.
Their lives, like those of many in this rural community, revolved around their church.
"They were dear old ladies and very active in our church," said Allen Powell, pastor of the 80-member Wrights Chapel United Methodist Church located about 10 miles from Golansville. "They were right penned in because they didn't drive," said Powell, who also operates a local funeral home. "But someone from the congregation always took them to church."
J. H. Kidd, pastor of the County Line Baptist Church, said that the women had attended a Friday night revival with relatives. "This is a typical rural community and most everyone knows everybody and is, in many ways, inter-related," Kidd said. "The ladies were very highly thought of. They visited around to all the churches whenever there was a revival."
"Church was very important to them," Stevens agreed. "You know, I just can't imagine not seeimg them again. When I think we were down here and someone was up there killing them . . . " Stevens said as her voice trailed off.