At the house at the corner of South Jones Avenue and Arch Drive in Rock Hill – a small house in a neighborhood of small houses – a light burns outside the side door, as if to guide someone home.
But nobody lives at the house. The lady who lived there, 76-year-old Cora Campbell, was killed inside a couple of weeks before Christmas.
Murders of little old ladies who spent a life in service at their churches only happen in the movies. Except in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
The case remains unsolved.
Neighbors are puzzled, some even frightened.
“I have a son, 5 years old, and I’m taking him to school now instead of letting him wait on the bus because nobody knows what happened here and the police are not telling us anything,” said Don Massey, who lives across Arch Street from where Cora Campbell lived.
“That sweet woman who lived in that house, she would come over and talk with my mother. She was so nice and sweet to people. She smiled a lot, and then somebody killed her.”
Campbell was found Dec. 14, a Friday, after family members who had not heard from her for days called police. Carletta Holley, who lives across the street on Jones Avenue, said she saw police lights flashing into the house the night before, Thursday night, too.
Rock Hill detectives continue to work the case, said police spokesman Lt. Brad Redfearn. Police have declined to release any information about the killing – where Campbell was found, whether forensic information such as fingerprints or anything else was left by the killer.
Police have not said anything about whether the house had been broken into, or if anything was taken.
Redfearn did say police do not believe the killing was a random act of violence, and that other elderly residents in the city have no reason to be scared that a predator is on the loose. There have not been incidents of elderly targeted before or since in similar violence, Redfearn said.
But in the middle of December on a quiet street, a life was taken from a lady who never bothered anybody.
Cora Campbell was a tiny thing, a woman who spent most of the year before her death at the bedside of her husband in a nursing home.
Almost every day Cora Campbell would go to Magnolia Manor and sit with her husband, James Earl Campbell, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
She went to church and came home. Then back to the nursing home.
Until Dec. 5, when her husband died at the nursing home. Dec. 7, he was buried.
That kind of funeral, after a long illness for an 88-year-old such as James Campbell, can be planned. We cry and grieve, but it was coming.
But Cora Campbell did not get a chance to try to live without her husband. On Dec. 14, Campbell, who had moved about a year ago to Rock Hill from rural Chester County to be closer to her brothers and sisters, was found dead in her house after being stabbed to death.
Before she was buried Dec. 19, her distraught siblings, all senior citizens, gathered at one sister’s home. All could not believe that this lady had been murdered.
And now it is a new year, and nobody yet has been able to say who killed Cora Campbell, a 76-year-old “little old lady,” or why.
Anyone with information on the death of Cora Campbell is asked to call the Rock Hill Police Department at 803-329-7200.