Two Virginia Tech students were found shot to death at a forest campground that is a popular campus hangout, and police have "several persons of interest" but haven't yet identified a suspect or revealed a motive.
The bodies of David Lee Metzler, 19, of Lynchburg and Heidi Lynn Childs, 18, of Forest were discovered early Thursday by a passerby at Jefferson National Forest, Montgomery County Sheriff's Lt. Brian Wright said. Both had been shot.
Wright said Metzler's body was found inside a car in the parking area of the Caldwell Fields campground, and Childs was found outside the car. The campground is about 15 miles from Virginia Tech's campus in Blacksburg.
Authorities have “several persons of interest” but have yet to name a suspect, according to the Lynchburg News & Advance.
Police believe the most recent crime may be random, according to the Norfolk Crime Examiner.
"We are going to step up our patrols in that area even though we think it was a random act of brutal violence," the Examiner quoted Montgomery County Sheriff Tommy Whitt as saying.
Whitt said the double murder was "brutal and ugly," according to the paper.
"We feel like possibly an intruder came in and subsequently both of the persons are now deceased," he said.
Autopsies were being conducted Friday in Roanoke.
The latest killings are hitting a campus still reeling from the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history and the gruesome beheading of a student earlier this year.
Metzler was a sophomore industrial and systems engineering major, and Childs was a sophomore biochemistry major. Childs' father is a Virginia state trooper, according to the Examiner.
In an e-mail to students and staff, Virginia Tech President Charles Steger again was counseling his campus community. Two years ago, a student gunman killed 32 others and himself. In January, a doctoral student beheaded a fellow student in a campus cafe.
"Trauma like this is deeply painful to us all," Steger wrote. "Once again, this community is visited by senseless violence and tragedy upon aspiring young minds from our campus.
"I know that many of you likely have complex feelings about now. How can this happen in this area, at this time, to this community?"
He said the pair were victims of a homicide sometime Wednesday night or early Thursday morning and died of gunshot wounds. The university will post information about memorial services on its Web site, Steger said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.