A married couple found dead inside their home Thursday at 1622 Broome Street in Lincolnton are being treated by police as homicide victims, according to Police Chief Rodney Jordan.
The Lincoln County Communications Center received a call about the bodies at 11:16 a.m., according to Coordinator Cory Saunders. The 911 caller had not been inside the residence or surveyed the crime scene at the time of the call, Saunders said.
Mike and Bonnie Vincent appeared to be happily married and never fought, according to several friends and former neighbors, one of whom, Justin Hester, told the Times-News that he first found the bodies and made the 911 call, though officers were not willing to confirm that.
The husband and wife were in their mid to upper 50s, according to Chief Jordan.
Hester, who identified himself as a former neighbor and family friend, told the Times-News that he went inside the couple’s home Thursday morning after he knocked and got no reply. He had also received no response at the residence when he tried to check on the couple Tuesday, he said.
Upon entering the residence, Hester said he spotted Mike Vincent’s body slumped over a coffee table, but at first, didn’t realize the man was dead. After spotting blood “running down” the victim’s back, Hester said he assumed the man had suffered some sort of medical attack and tried to help him.
Bonnie was “laid out on the floor” beside Mike with a “beaten in” face, according to Hester.
Hester also said he last spoke with Mike and Bonnie on Sunday while he was walking in the neighborhood.
“I waved to them,” he said. “I didn’t know I wasn’t going to see them again.”
Though police were unwilling to confirm any aspects of Hester’s account, Chief Jordan said the crime scene displayed no signs of forced entry and that the home’s “disheveled” and “cluttered” state made it difficult for investigators to determine evidence of a struggle.
Police were also unsure as to how long the victims had been inside the home before they were discovered. Between the strong smell from decomposition and Thursday’s sweltering heat, police officers and the State Bureau of Investigation agents assisting them opted to wear air packs inside the residence to help them breathe.
Neighbors voiced their shock Thursday over the inconceivable crime-scene.
“This is like a big family out here,” Justin’s sister Lauren Hester said. “They (police) better figure out who did it.”
Ironically, Bonnie Vincent had started a neighborhood watch for her block last year and handed out information to everyone around her, according to neighbor R.Z. Estep.
His wife, Katie Estep, commented on the victims’ good-hearted character and compassionate ways.
“They’d take the shirt off their backs—literally,” she said. “They’d even take you to the store. They were great people.”
Former neighborhood resident Kelly Rinderer agreed. “They waited on each other hand and foot,” she said.
The Lincolnton Fire Department also responded to the scene to assist police.