Takoma Park police are investigating a possible financial motive for the slaying this week of a Takoma Park couple after finding blank U.S. government checks and a large sum of money in the suspect's car.

David W. Stigger, an enlisted Navy man charged Thursday with the shooting deaths of Lorenzo Vener and his wife, Diorvett, was "heavily in debt," said Takoma Park police spokeswoman Barbara Young. The couple was found about 3:40 a.m. Tuesday lying in bed in their seventh-floor apartment, shot to death, police said.

Young said police found $2,000 in traveler's checks in Stigger's Volkswagen Jetta. In addition, police found four blank U.S. Treasury Department checks in a duffel bag in the car, said Frank Kauffman, special agent in charge of the District's Naval Investigative Service, which is assisting in the probe.

Kauffman said naval investigators are auditing payroll and travel voucher records at the Naval Security Station, where both Stigger and Lorenzo Vener worked as disbursing clerks. Vener, 25, was a supervisor in the station's personnel support detachment and was responsible for a monthly payroll of $2 million, according to police and Navy documents.

A preliminary audit also is being done by Citibank, where Diorvett Vener, 24, was the head teller at the McPherson Square branch, a Takoma Park police official said.

Takoma Park police and naval investigators said they began reviewing Stigger's financial records after learning about his debt problems and discovering the traveler's checks and blank U.S. checks in his car. "He was living beyond his means," said a detective who reviewed Stigger's credit and bank records.

Stigger, a petty officer second class with about six years of military service, received $1,218 in gross monthly salary, a Navy spokesman said yesterday. Enlisted Navy personnel also are given a housing subsidy and medical benefits, the spokesman said.

Authorities have discounted a rumored love triangle between the victims and Stigger, who told police Vener mistakenly believed he was having an affair with his wife. "There has been nothing said by someone that would know that a romantic link existed," said Takoma Park Police Chief A. Tony Fisher.

Stigger and Lorenzo Vener had been friends since 1987, police said. Stigger was scheduled to be transferred yesterday to Norfolk naval base, according to court documents. Vener was to be reassigned later this year to the same seaport, police sources said.

In a search warrant executed Thursday, police found a .38-caliber Colt semiautomatic handgun believed used in the slayings, along with several rounds of ammunition and two keys to the Veners' apartment in Stigger's car. Stigger is being held without bond in the county Detention Center.

On Tuesday morning, when police officers arrived at the Veners' apartment, they talked to a man about a complaint of gunshots being fired in the Maple Avenue high-rise. The officers left after the man, later identified by police as Stigger, told them there were no problems.