A 73-year-old man and his daughter were found dead yesterday morning in their West Baltimore rowhouse, angering Druid Heights neighbors who described the man as a "pleasant and nice gentleman."
Investigators were awaiting results of autopsies last night on Peter Wendell Williams and Belinda Baynor, 38.
Police said they believe the deaths were homicides.
Police spokesman Agent Robert W. Weinhold Jr. said the victims "had sustained an injury which appears to have been the cause of death. The nature of the injury is unknown because of the condition of the crime scene."
As homicide detectives investigated the slayings in the 500 block of Presstman St., neighbors gathered and talked about the man they knew as "Wendell," who had lived in his house for three decades.
"All that I can tell you is that he's a nice old man," said Sonja Smith, 40. "He didn't do nothing to nobody. It's just sad. I had just seen him the other night."
A neighborhood youth, who would not give his name, said Mr. Williams "didn't mess with nobody. He just stayed around the house, went to work and did his thing. He would call police on you if you stood on the corner."
Police and residents say drug dealing and violence are common around Mr. Williams' three-story rowhouse. Seven of 10 houses on the street are vacant and boarded up.
"We need more, better housing," said Jacquelyn Cornish, director of the Druid Heights Community Development Corporation, which is trying to buy seven vacant houses in the area for low income people.
"We need more homeowners," she said. "We need more people with a vested interest in what goes on. [The slayings] remind me of the saying: for every two steps forward, there is a step backward. This will make me push harder to stabilize this community."
Police said yesterday that they had no leads in the killings. The victim's niece, Marcia Williams, said most of the boarders in the house are elderly.
Agent Weinhold said detectives believe the slayings occurred between 10 p.m. Tuesday and 9 a.m. yesterday. A police commander said there was a gathering at the house Tuesday night, but Agent Weinhold said that information had not been confirmed.
Police said a tenant discovered the bodies about 9 a.m. yesterday. But Ms. Smith said her sister-in-law, Patrice Anderson, discovered the bodies when she visited the house to use a telephone.
Mr. Williams' niece, Ms. Williams, described the family as "devastated." She said they have no idea what happened. The house was not ransacked and nothing appeared to have been stolen, she said.