An unthinkable Christmas Day crime in Cherokee County has neighbors in shock.  Authorities say it appears an elderly couple were shot and killed in their home just south of Locust Grove.  The News On 6's Steve Berg reports, at this point, investigators have no idea who did it.

People who live nearby say Jack and Elaine Denney were more like family than neighbors.  And, they are in shock that something like this could happen.  On Iron Post Road, they should be celebrating Christmas but instead are mourning a brutal crime.

"I can't believe something like this happened to nice people," said Marc Copeland.

Marc Copeland describes 65-year-old Jack Denney and his wife, 66-year-old Elaine Denney, as the unofficial grandparents of this close-knit neighborhood.

"I've known them ever since I was a little kid.  They were just almost like family.  They just took me in, my whole family.  We kind of got together as one in a community out here," added Marc Copeland.

Cherokee County Undersheriff Jason Chennault says the bodies were discovered by the couple's daughter around noon when she came by to drop off Christmas presents.

"We're in the initial stages of the investigation and really don't know anything at all," said Undersheriff Jason Chennault.

He says there was no sign of a break-in.  And, they now face the frightening prospect that a suspect or suspects are still out there.

"This is one of those areas that we don't have a lot of problems out of.  We're right on the Mayes County, Cherokee County line, and there's just not a lot of problems out here.  Especially around the holidays.  I mean that just makes it that much more sad," said Undersheriff Jason Chennault.

The impact of the crime is already being felt by the community.

"Makes me nervous to work, leave my family home alone," said neighbor Marc Copeland.

Billy Stuart says Jack Denney had just retired from GRDA a few weeks ago.  And, he says the couple was looking forward to some free time.

"And they were planning out their whole deal, man.  They were going to travel around and do whatever," said Billy Stuart.  "They were fixing to have a swimming pool put in.  Have cookouts."

"Ya know they're just nice people, sweet people, and they didn't deserve this.  No one does, but they damn sure didn't," said neighbor Marc Copeland.