The Johnson County Sheriff's Department said the women found shot to death in a Shawnee park were twin sisters and are calling their deaths a double suicide.
Authorities later confirmed they were Sharon E. Bartley and Susan E. Howard, both of Johnson County.
Relatives of the two women said they are in complete shock and there are many unanswered questions. They said they aren't ready to speak to the media about the tremendous loss.
The gruesome discovery of the two middle-aged women shot dead near the Barker Trail Access on the Gary L. Haller Trail in Mill Creek Streamway Park in Shawnee had neighbors shocked and concerned.
"This is my home. I grew up here. I mean, this is the first time I've ever heard of anything like this happening around here," neighbor Nathan Alt said.
Investigators said a passer-by spotted the bodies near a trail, located on Barker Road just north of Shawnee Mission Parkway, in the park about 3 p.m. Wednesday and called 911. The Johnson County Sheriff's Department said the bodies were about 150 yards into the park on the trail.
Jesse Porter heard what he believes were the shots that killed the women.
"At least five in rapid succession. There's probably more than that, but I know I heard at least five shots," he said.
On Wednesday, as the investigation continued, a Johnson County sheriff's deputy on scene said a gun was recovered at the scene and they weren't looking for a shooter.
Authorities also said they connected the sisters to a car parked nearby.
"Right now it's under investigation as two deceased bodies in the park," Johnson County Deputy Rick Howell said Wednesday when asked if they were classifying the incident as a double homicide.
As night fell, deputies went door-to-door questioning neighbors. Knowing that investigators were not looking for a shooter gave residents some peace of mind after the tragic day.
One of the women lived in a home off of 51st and Maple streets in Mission, KS. She had moved out a few months ago and the house remained empty.
Her next-door neighbor said detectives came knocking on his door Wednesday night, asking questions about her. The neighbor said he's shocked by the news and never saw any major signs of trouble.
"I honestly can't imagine. I don't know what goes on here, why people do this and it's just blown me away," Stuart West said. "I knew her as a nice neighbor, that was it. One time she told me that she couldn't find work, I knew that about her, but that was many months ago. Then she said they were moving to Roeland Park and suddenly she was happy about it."
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