The director of the Medill School of Journalism's Washington-based news service and his wife were found shot to death at their Cleveland Park home last night, the victims of what police said appeared to be homicide and suicide.

The couple was identified as Neil Venable McNeil, 54, and his wife Doris, 57, an assistant reigistrar at Mount Vernon College here. Police discovered the bodies in the home at at 2845 29th Place NW shortly before 5 p.m. after receiving reports from colleagues of the McNeils that they had been unable to contact the couple.

Investigators said McNeil's body was found on the first floor of the two-story home and that of his wife in the basement. They said the shootings apparently occurred sometime Tuesday or late Monday. They declined to provide further details pending the results of autopsies.

McNeil, a former reporter and editor with the old Washington Daily News, had been a faculty member of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism since 1961, and an associate professor since 1968. In 1966, he was one of the first of the school's faculty members assigned to Medill's Washington program for graduate journalism students, which has offices at the National Press Building.

He was a founder the same year of the Medill News Service, a widely respected student enterprise that provides news on national politics for about 15 newspapers and eight television stations around the country.