A quiet lakefront community of upscale homes and neighbors who look out for each other was stunned Friday to learn that a couple who had lived there for decades had been gunned down in their home late Thursday.
Doug London, 63, and Debbie London, 61, were found dead in their home at 5010 Tioga Road late Thursday by York County sheriff’s deputies after their son called 911 at about 8:30 p.m., a sheriff’s spokesman said. No arrests have been made, and police did not release any details about the investigation. Police and coroner officials also declined to say how many times the Londons had been shot.
Just five months ago, Doug London survived an armed robbery attempt at the Wholesale Mattress Warehouse store he and his wife operated on South Boulevard in Charlotte. He shot one of the would-be robbers in the stomach, and that man tried to shoot London but missed. Three men have been charged in connection with that robbery.
Police would not comment Friday on whether there is a connection between the killings and the May 25 robbery attempt. And despite no one having been arrested for Thursday’s shooting, deputies said the public is not in danger.
“There is no reason for anyone in this community to be alarmed,” said sheriff’s spokesman Trent Faris, adding that investigators do not believe the shootings were a “random act of violence.” He declined to elaborate.
Efforts to reach Daniel London, Doug and Debbie London’s adult son who lived at the Lake Wylie home, were unsuccessful. Early Friday morning, Daniel London posted this message on his Facebook page:
“I love my Parents Doug London and Debbie London forever and always!!!!!!!!!!!”
Friday evening, he posted another message, calling his parents “the best in the world” and thanking his friends for their love and support.
A boat, a lake and sunsets
The Londons, who had been married for more than 30 years, were “good, church-going people,” said brother-in-law Steve Musgrove, who is married to Doug London’s sister. “That’s given the family a lot of comfort.
“We know where they are … in a better place.”
Doug London was born and raised in Charlotte and went on to play golf professionally, Musgrove said. Debbie London had once worked as a flight attendant for Piedmont Airlines, he said, describing the couple as “average people.”
“They had a boat,” he said. “They liked to picnic on the lake, fish on the lake, watch sunsets.
“You don’t expect (this type of crime) to happen to your family, and you don’t expect it in your community or this close to home.”
The Londons were well-liked and respected by neighbors, said Clover’s Brad Harvey, whose grandparents have lived near the couple for decades.
“They were great people,” Harvey said. “They took care of my grandparents for years.”
Doug London often frequented Dick Pendleton’s grocery and sporting goods store along S.C. 274, near the Londons’ neighborhood. Pendleton said Doug London liked to paint and golf in his spare time.
“He could take a little picture and blow it up if you asked him,” said Pendleton. “He would do dogs, portraits, all of that. They were good people.”
The Londons had owned the franchise location of Wholesale Mattress Warehouse in the 7100 block of Charlotte’s South Boulevard for about two years, Musgrove said. The store, open until 6 p.m. most days, was closed Friday.
A handwritten note taped to the door read, “Closed today due to family emergency.”
Next door, at South Charlotte Jewelry and Loan, a man behind the counter who asked not to be identified declined to speak about the Londons.
“It’s too personal,” he said. “They were friends of mine. … I have nothing to say.”
Far from normal
The shootings of the Londons had some neighbors walking to or driving by the road that leads to their home to try to find out what happened – and why. One couple said they were “extremely nervous” after seeing “all the commotion” on the dead-end street where the Londons’ lakefront home is.
Paul LaChance, a neighbor who worked with Debbie London until she retired eight years ago, hustled down the street to see what happened after coming home from working the night shift at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
“I worked last night, and one of the neighbors said he heard gunshots,” LaChance said.
Other neighbors saw the flurry of police activity.
“I was at work, and when I came home, I saw police cars leaving,” said Ryan Bean, 23, who lives nearby on Lake Wylie Road. His parents “said they saw maybe six or seven police cars headed to the house.”
Near the crime scene, others talked of how crime in the area is far from normal.
“I thought it was very unusual,” said Larry Edwards, owner of Trucraft Welding & Machine on S.C. 274. “This is usually a safe place to live – never heard anything like that happening in Lake Wylie.”
Michael Wilson has lived in the area since moving from Houston eight years ago. Lake Wylie is a safe and quiet community, he said, and he “didn’t expect anything like that” when he heard about the shootings.
‘Treasure each moment’
In his Friday evening Facebook post, Daniel London asked his friends to pray for his family.
“Treasure those that you love and care about,” he wrote. “Each and every person should never take for granted the time we have with loved ones. Life can last 100 years or vanish in a second.
“Live each day like it’s your last, surround yourself with those you love and treasure each moment with them. God bless.”