THOMSON --- After almost a year with no homicides, McDuffie County has had three this month, two of them young people, while neighboring Lincoln County was the scene of a murder-suicide Monday, and most residents don't think they're coincidental.
Kay Kendrick, the owner of Cut & Style hair salon, said she thinks people don't value human life anymore.
"And I think you've got a generation of kids that have grown up and ... that sat in front of a computer and killed something, constantly, repetitively, killing something to the point they're desensitized," she said.
She said putting prayer and discipline back into school are important factors in decreasing violence and disorder.
"I think we've allowed a small number of people who didn't believe in prayer and didn't believe in discipline and didn't want somebody else to be the disciplinarian for their children to make the rules," she said. "We just all need to stick together and say, 'We want to change this.' "
Katlyn Hagan, 23, a cosmetology apprentice at Cut & Style, agreed.
"It wasn't this bad in Thomson when I was growing up," she said. "The murders in Thomson are really bad. Kids need to be more supervised. They need to be at home at certain times. The state curfew needs to be enforced a lot more."
On Nov. 6, Ron Barnett, 26, was found dead beside a road near Dearing. Cedric "Scooter" Hobbs Jr., 29, has been linked to the homicide and is being held in Fayetteville, N.C., in connection with another death.
On Friday, the body of Shakira Hudson, a freshman at Thomson High School, was found outside her home at Washington Place Apartments. Police arrested and charged Terry Johnson Jr., 17, of Thomson, on suspicion of malice murder.
On Monday, in Lincoln County, the bodies of Chris Holloway, 53, and his wife, Pamela, 37, were discovered at their home shortly after 8 a.m.
Authorities said the deaths are the result of a domestic dispute that ended when Chris Holloway shot his wife before turning the gun on himself.
About two months ago in Lincolnton, Debbie Reed was charged with shooting her husband, Kenneth, Lincolnton resident Wanda Cawthon said:
"This lady and her husband that were killed Monday -- they lived about a mile from Debbie and Ken Reed. It's been very quiet -- hushed up -- so we don't know what provoked it. But it's a shock because they are good people."
Besides a lack of prayer and morality lessons in school, illegal drugs are to blame, she said.
"Children are taking drugs, and they're not in their right mind, and they'll do anything to get money to buy drugs, and it's just a vicious cycle," she said.
Pate Morris, a 79-year-old bluegrass fiddle player, was found dead in his driveway at White Oak Campground Road on Nov. 16. Police have arrested a relative, Gregory Morris of Maxeys, Ga., and charged him with malice murder.
Kelly Ware, who owns Michael's Restaurant in Thomson with his wife, Ann, said his Sunday school class discussed the Morrises.
"I don't know how they could have that kind of misunderstanding," he said. "Money wasn't a problem. That is really puzzling. Somebody that age got killed. He wasn't bothering anybody. He wasn't aggressive. I'm really confused."
Break-ins in Thomson have made senior citizens and people who live alone afraid, he said, adding that his restaurant is broken into two or three times a year.
Leon Buffington, a co-owner of Raysville Marina, has lived in Thomson for more than 50 years and said there's "quite a difference" between then and now.
"Emergencies going on now that didn't use to happen many years ago," he said. "And, of course, law enforcement's hands are tied, causing a lot of the problems now. There's a lot of changes in Thomson the last 50-something years."