A World Bank loan officer from Belgium and his wife were found shot to death late Monday night in their two-story brick house in an exclusive McLean subdivision, Fairfax County Police said yesterday.
Police officials said the body of Romain Paul de Cock, 52, was found lying in the foyer of the house at 739 Ridge Dr. shortly after 11 p.m. Monday by his 21-year-old son, Alain. Officials summoned to the scene discovered the body of Simone Irene de Cock, 50, in an upstairs bedroom. Police said both apparently died from gunshot wounds to the upper parts of their bodies.
"We have no suspects -- we're starting from square one," said police spokesman Warren R. Carmichael. "No weapon has been recovered." Police said they discovered no apparent motive in the case, adding there was "no obvious burglary."
The murders apparently occured sometime after about 6 p.m. Monday, when de Cock returned home from work at the World Bank in his neighborhood car pool, and 11 p.m., when the son returned to the house and discovered the bodies, police said.
Police said neighbors reported hearing no sounds of a struggles or gunshots during the night. But a next-door neighbor said he heard one of the de Cocks' four dogs barking loudly about 9:30 p.m. He said he wondered why the de Cocks would let the dog outdoors on such a cold night.
Neighbors described the de Cocks, both natives of Belgium, as a friendly, quiet couple who kept mostly to themselves. De Cock rode to work in a carpool with two other neighbors also employed by the World Bank, neighbors said.
"We were stunned," said one neighbor who said she was awakened by police investigators early yesterday morning. "This is usually such a peaceful neighborhood."
Langley Oaks Subdivision, just off Rte. 193 near Langley High School, is an exclusive neighborhood with a mix of residents from almost a dozen nations. Stately colonial houses perch on hilly landscaped lots that line gently curving roads.
Romain de Cock had been employed by the World Bank since March 1981, according to a bank spokesman who said de Cock was an agricultural loan expert who traveled extensively in West Africa. The couple had resided in the Langley Oaks house with their son, Alain, since they moved to the McLean area from Rome, neighbors and World Bank officials said.
A teen-aged daughter died of cancer shortly after the couple moved into the area, neighbors said. "The woman took frequent walks in the neighborhood," said one neighbor. "She seemed sad all of the time."
Other neighbors described Simone de Cock as a friendly woman who frequently invited neighborhood children into the house to play with their dog's puppies. The de Cocks' native language was French, and police summoned a French-speaking officer to contact family members in Nice, France, yesterday morning, Carmichael said.
Alain de Cock reportedly spotted his father's body through the front door window lying in the foyer at the foot of a stairwell. He then contacted the county rescue squad. Police officers searched the house and found the body of Simone de Cock in an upstairs bedroom. Authorities spent more than six hours examining the scene before they removed the bodies to the county morgue about 5:30 a.m.
Last year, a prominent international economist for the World Bank, Morton C. Grossman, 62, and his wife, Sylvea, 58, were murdered in their Vienna house during an apparent burglary attempt. Sylvea Grossman operated a small antique store in Bethesda, and police described the house as "chock full" of antiques. Police still have no suspects in the Grossman case.
Police said yesterday they found no connections between the two double slayings.