Cumberland Gap, Claiborne County (WVLT) - Just over 200 people live in the town of Cumberland Gap, Tennessee. The town known for its historic mountain pass is wedged up against Kentucky and Virginia.
The Claiborne County Sheriff's Department says Ralph Hopper and Jule Maiden Kirby were killed late last night here at the Tunnel II Package Store. Ralph Hopper was from the Harrogate area and his family says his death is a great loss to them and the community.
"Ralph was a wonderful man he was kind, honest, generous. if the people would have asked him for the money he would have given it to them. It was a senseless thing that they did," Karen Schooler says her father in law worked at the Tunnel II Package Store for over 20 years. A husband to Margaret for almost 26 years, he had worked for the Claiborne County Schools driving bus and as a deputy with the Claiborne County Sheriff's Department
He loved his family, his life, loved his job, community, was well known and well respected," Peggy Fultz knew Hopper years ago and was shocked to hear the news of his death. "We're not used to hearing stuff like this around here this close."
She says this is the first murder she can remember in several years and running a shop just around the corner from the crime scene makes her uneasy.
"It's just a quiet laid back town. Everybody knows everybody and you feel safe. I'm more on guard than what I would have been before," Peggy says.
The TBI and Claiborne County Sheriffs Department continue to investigate.
"We're asking for help. We need information from the public very, very bad," says Claiborne County Sheriff David Ray.
The family is asking those responsible to turn themselves in.
"Whoever you are, just be brave enough to come forward and say you did it," Karen pleas.
The bodies have been taken to UT Medical Center where the autopsies will be performed Friday.