APPLEBY, TX (KTRE) – Authorities say a land dispute may be behind Friday's apparent double homicide-suicide which left three people dead in the small town of Appleby.
With a population of 444, news travels fast, especially when it happens right next door.
"You hear of these things happening in the big city, you hear about it on the news all the time, but living in a small community like this one out here, it's very hard to understand," said neighbor Alicia Gilbert.
Gilbert can't comprehend that three of her neighbors are dead, following Friday's apparent double homicide-suicide.
According to the Nacogdoches County Sheriff Thomas Kerss, the initial investigation showed there had been an ongoing dispute over property lines and that it apparently flared up Friday, when the victims had a fence put up along the disputed line. Kerss says the shooter then came out of his home and shot them both.
After shooting 59-year-old Helen Meeler and 58-year-old Connie Moses, authorities believe 73-year-old Preston Skelton fled into the wooded areas before taking his own life.
Law enforcement has been called out to the area several times before.
Friends say the neighbors lived next door to each other for more than 20 years and even shared a driveway.
When tensions grew, the women were prompted to build their own driveway.
"They weren't getting along as well, I mean they'd always gotten along and that was it, it was just strange to them," said best friend to Connie Moses, Mary Grisby.
"He'd never talk to anyone, never look at anyone," said Gilbert about Skelton's behavior.
Close friends of the victims say no reason is good enough for what happened here.
"They weren't blood but I loved them so much, they were family to us," said Connie's God-daughter, Alexis Grisby.
"There is no answer. There is no it was done because of this, no. There's nothing there. Just somebody crazy that did something crazy," said Mary Grisby.
The news has shaken the small community. It's an unforgettable tragedy resulting in the loss of three of their own.
Authorities said they had to search the wooded area for more than two hours to locate Skelton.
The Nacogdoches Sheriff's Department notified schools, and all buses were held Friday until Appleby Sand Road could re-open.