Virginia McLaughlin lived by herself with her tiny dog in Northeast Philadelphia. Her husband had died; her sons had moved out, a neighbor said.
On Tuesday, the 68-year-old woman was found stabbed to death in her house on the 12000 block of Elmore Road, police said. She was one of two people discovered dead in the home.
On Wednesday, police called McLaughlin's death a homicide and said the "offender" was Lawrence Carty, 60, of the 3500 block of Grant Avenue, also in Northeast Philadelphia. They listed the motive as an argument. They said in a statement that Carty was found lying facedown on the kitchen floor "suffering from self-inflicted stab wounds to both arms."
Police did not say what Carty's relationship was to McLaughlin, but indicated that they knew each other.
A neighbor on Elmore Road, who asked that his name not be used, said he didn't know Carty's full name and only knew him as "Larry." McLaughlin and Carty were friends who liked to go country-western or line-dancing together, the neighbor said.
Last Friday, the neighbor said, he saw McLaughlin outside. She told him that she and Carty had a serious fight and that she ended her friendship with him. He did not know what the dispute was about.
On Tuesday, neighbors thought it odd that McLaughlin, who kept the outside of her house well-maintained, did not bring her trash cans in from the street after the sanitation trucks had come and gone. Her car was in her driveway. The car that Carty drove was parked in front of McLaughlin's house, the neighbor said.
That's when one neighbor called police to check on McLaughlin. When police arrived about 12:40 p.m., they found the front door unlocked and McLaughlin lying on the floor by the door, with stab wounds to her shoulder and back, police said Wednesday.
Carty was found facedown on the kitchen floor, with self-inflicted stab wounds to his arms, police said. Both were pronounced dead at the scene. Police said the weapon was recovered.
The neighbor said he was shocked to learn of the deaths. McLaughlin, he said, had lived in the home for 25 years. Her husband had died in 1999, according to public records, and her four sons had moved out.
"She was a really nice person, very friendly person, willing to help people," the neighbor said.
Police on Tuesday took McLaughlin's pet, a tiny black dog whose name sounded like "Shammy" for Shamrock, out of the house, the neighbor said. He said it appeared the dog had blood on its side. Another neighbor took the dog to a nearby animal hospital.
Elmore Road is a "very quiet street," the neighbor said. "People keep to themselves."
A family member of McLaughlin's could not be reached for comment Wednesday. A man who answered a phone linked to Carty declined comment.