Portadown was still in a profound state of shock yesterday following the harrowing news that respected elderly couple Michael and Marjorie Cawdery had been stabbed to death by an intruder on Friday afternoon.
Upper Ramone Park, on the northern outskirts of the town, is a quiet cul-de-sac, built some 40 years ago and now occupied mainly by retired professional people, particularly by ex-staff (and some present staff) of Craigavon Area Hospital, from which reports claim the alleged killed “walked” just before the double atrocity.
Church-goers were shocked that the 83-year-olds, who had served the veterinary world with such distinction, were so brutally killed.
Mr Cawdery was a world-renowned expert in the field of veterinary pathology.
They kept themselves to themselves in their distinctive home at Upper Ramone, where many members of my church (Armagh Road Presbyterian) are residents, past and present.
Among them are a laboratory scientist at the hospital, across a narrow lane and over a high fence, an ex-nurse, and – in other professions – an estate agent, former teacher and a retired business couple.
Some knew the Cawderys just by sight, others personally, and all described them as “a delightful couple who obviously contributed so much over their years of service”.
One woman – who had lived in Upper Ramone and had moved to the area where the suspect was apprehended – summed it up.
“I couldn’t believe what had happened in quiet Ramone, or that his trail had led so close to my present home.”
A present Ramone resident – long retired – commented: “Something will have to be done to improve security from the hospital. There have been scary incidents before, with helicopters sent up to spot escaped patients – especially from the psychiatric unit and these have been swiftly resolved.
“But after this, we are very uneasy, and when the dust settles, we want to set up meetings with the authorities.”
Our current minister, Rev Christina Bradley, said prayers for the family of the Cawderys. And our senior (retired) minister, Rev Campbell Wilson, rang me from his Banbridge home to check on his former “flock”.