ESSEX, MD. -- Two sisters and their husbands were found shot to death execution-style in their Baltimore County house yesterday, police said.

A brother of one of the victims found the bodies lying in the living room of the house in the 3700 block of Holly Grove Road in Bowleys Quarters, about 15 miles east of downtown Baltimore, said police spokesman Brian Uppercue.

The names of the victims were not released. Police said they appeared to be in their late twenties or early thirties.

"From what we can piece together right now, it appears the family may have been surprised while they were watching television in the family room," Uppercue said. " . . . The family was then taken into the living room where they . . . {were} ordered to lie face down, and then were all shot."

All were shot in the back or the back of the head, Uppercue said. He said that the shootings may have taken place Friday.

E. Jay Miller, another police spokesman, said it appeared that the victims had been shot late Friday or early yesterday, although two neighbors said they had seen them outside the house yesterday afternoon.

"The motive right now would be unclear," Uppercue said, adding that there were no signs of forced entry and that the house was not ransacked.

The house is in an area of older homes and yacht moorings east of Glen L. Martin State Airport.

Police said that the brother who found the bodies reported that the front door was locked but ajar when he arrived yesterday afternoon, and that nothing appeared to be taken from the house.

The brother, whose name was not released, said the last contact with the victims was about 5 p.m. Friday.