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Investigators search for clues after man killed, daughter hurt in attack

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Richfield, NC (WBTV) -

Detectives in Rowan County searched into the night collecting evidence and taking with people after an elderly man and his daughter were found assaulted in the backyard of a home after a possible robbery; the man was fatally injured.

According to the Rowan County Sheriff's Office, 911 operators got a call for help around 8:15 a.m. Wednesday morning from a home along the 6200 block of River Road in Richfield.

WBTV has learned that a family member found the man, later identified as 87-year-old World War II veteran J.D. Furr, and his daughter, later identified as Sandra Steen, 62, in the driveway and yard area behind the home.

Furr was deceased, officials said, and Steen had been assaulted.

"I asked her several times, she just said she was attacked from behind," Jeff Steen told WBTV.  Steen is Sandra Steen's son and the grandson to J.D. Furr.  Steen was the one who discovered his mother and grandfather.

"It's hard to see someone you love like that, my mom, she grabbed me and she told me to help, that's all she said, help," Steen added.

Emergency Responders and the Rowan County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to the scene. 

Sandra Steen was rushed to Stanly Memorial Hospital in an ambulance before being taken by helicopter to another area hospital for treatment of her injuries. 

Steen's condition had improved by Thursday morning, but police say she will require an extended time to recover from the injuries she received. 

Detectives say they have spoken with Steen. 

Investigators say they're not releasing Furr's cause of death and they're not saying if they found the murder weapon. 

All day Wednesday and through the night, the sheriff's office searched the property and collected evidence. Investigators say they've questioned several people - but no one has been arrested.

"The Rowan County Sheriff's Office shares the public's disgust that someone has committed this crime, and will pursue all potential leads to seek justice for the victims in this case," investigators told WBTV.

Investigators say they've spoken to other police departments, including with detectives in Albemarle, where an elderly man was killed during a robbery last week. 81-year old Robert Gibson was shot at his coin shop. It's about 16 miles away from the murder scene in Rowan County. Investigators with the Rowan County Sheriff's Office tell WBTV they do NOT think the two crimes are connected.

Investigators say grandson Jeff Steen told them that everything was okay at the house in Richfield before 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Investigators say Steen arrived Wednesday morning to help out with some work around the house and discovered the man and woman.

"When they arrived here they initially saw a female laying out in the driveway, of course, they immediately checked on her, and then also they found an elderly deceased male close to the house," Capt. John Sifford with the Rowan County Sheriff's Office.

A robbery of the residence may also have occurred, but investigators are still working to confirm that.

Wednesday afternoon family and friends drove by the Furr farm, many slowing down to watch investigators as they continued their work.

One, newspaper carrier Kevin Coughenour, was stunned to find out what had happened.

"I'm shocked, I just don't know what to say," Coughenour told WBTV.  "He's come out here meet me at the box, we sit here and talk, he's give me produce out of his garden, eggs out of his chicken coop, I just can't believe this has happened."

The Rowan County Sheriff's Office is asking anyone with information that could help to please call (704)216-8700.

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