Waynesboro mourns slain couple

Family, friends laud devotion to church
The Rev. Willie B. Tomlin presides over a prayer service for Ralph and Trudy Gordon, who were found slain in their home Sunday, at the Thomas Grove Baptist Church in Waynesboro.

WAYNESBORO, Ga. --- When an ambulance carrying Ralph and Trudy Gordon drove through Waynesboro on Sunday, it was as if the town stopped.

"Everybody just pulled their car to the side," said Trudy Gordon's niece Alvetta Carroll. "That says a lot about what we thought of them. Everybody knew them. I'm really going to miss her."

Carroll and dozens of other family members, neighbors and friends of the elderly couple gathered at Thomas Grove Baptist Church on Monday night to remember their spirit and devotion to the community. Ralph Gordon was the chairman of the deacon board at the church. His wife taught Sunday school.

The beloved couple were killed in their home sometime over the weekend. Ralph Gordon's daughter found their bodies at their Ninth Street home after they did not show up at church.

Law enforcement officials are giving few details about the slaying, but Burke County Sheriff Greg Coursey said his deputies are devoted to finding those responsible.

"The community is outraged. That I will tell you," he said. "There are some very upset people in this town."

Investigators estimate the couple had been dead two days before their bodies were found.

"Nobody deserves what happened to them," said Gary Nicholson, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation special agent in charge. "From what I've seen these were good people, and no one deserves what they went through."

Nicholson refused to elaborate or provide details on the deaths but said at an afternoon news conference that police were pursuing leads. He said investigators aren't sure how many people might be involved in the deaths, but he has no reason to suspect it involved a gang.

Burke County Deputy Coroner Susan Salemi described the slayings as "brutal."

Cynthia Mobley, a longtime friend of the couple, said many believe the couple were robbed and stabbed at their home.

"That's what I've been told" she said. "I had someone break into my storage home April 17. The robbing and stealing keeps happening. It's sad."

Mobley said she attended Savannah State College with Trudy Gordon, and both taught in the Burke County school system.

Carroll said her aunt taught for 35 years. She and her husband, who retired as an Army master sergeant, kept their weekly ritual of Wednesday night bowling and Sunday services at Thomas Grove.

Carroll said she believed someone must have broken into their home.

"They were very safety cautious, so they wouldn't have let you in if they didn't know you," she said. "I just don't understand it."

Funeral arrangements are incomplete.