Dave Lindo, Gleaner Writer
Mandeville was yesterday left in shock and disbelief after an elderly couple was found dead at their home in the town Monday morning.
Morris and Grace Richards were found hanging from their staircase at their home at Glenwood Close, off deCarteret Road, shortly before 10 a.m.
According to reports, their relatives and friends got suspicious after the couple did not turn up for church on Sunday nor at their business place located on South Race Course Road in Mandeville on Monday.
Two close relatives went to their home and discovered the gruesome sight. The Richards, who were in their 70s, were still dressed in their clothes that they were seen in on Saturday.
The police are theorising that it was a case of suicide, especially after reading the content of a letter which was left on their dining table.
"Based on preliminary investigations, it would appear that they committed suicide," said Inspector Bernard, from the Manchester police. "However investigations are ongoing as murder is not being ruled out."
People who gathered near the home of the deceased, including close friends and their neighbours, were however puzzled as to why the couple would take their own lives. Some outrightly said they believe they were murdered.
"They were Christians and very peaceful people. I don't see any reason why they would take their own lives," said a neighbour who asked to remain anonymous.
Caswell Burton, assistant minister at Wesley Methodist Church where the Richards attended, said the church was deeply saddened by the death of the couple.
Burton, who claimed to have known the Richards since 1969, said: "The news is so shocking that many believe that it is a dream from which they wish to wake. People were concerned when they (the Richards) didn't turn up on Christmas Sunday. We found that very unusual. We thought they went visiting or something because they were very active in church activities."
Morris Richards was a well-known builder in the Mandeville area while his wife was a retired librarian. The two had for years operated a business on South Race Course Road which sold household chemicals.
Wendy Freckleton, president of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said the business community was moved by their deaths.
"The Manchester Chamber of Commerce would like to express our sympathy in the deaths of Morris and Grace Richards. We wish all to give well-needed support to the family and friends at this time," Freckleton said.