Deacon Stephen Roscher had planned on spending about 15 minutes last month at the home the home of Vaughn and Marjorie Pepper.
But the visit went so well, and the conversation was so pleasant, that he ended up staying about an hour.
"They were a really neat couple," he said of the octogenarians. "Just very affable. You could tell they were kind, very considerate of one another."
Roscher is the permanent deacon assigned to St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Pikesville, and they had asked for him to visit their Sudbrook Park home, because they've had trouble getting to church in recent years.
He visited on Aug. 12, and their grandson, Matthew Long, 31, welcomed him at the door and joined the one-hour conversation.
They talked about Vaughn Peppers' work as a former state trooper and how a tree had fallen on their house during a recent storm.
"Matt was also pleasant and saw me to the door when I left," Roscher said.
But there may have been more under the surface.
On Monday afternoon police found the Peppers murdered in their Olmstead Road home. They had suffered traumatic injuries, police said, though few details have been released.
And on Friday morning, just minutes into the Peppers' funeral in Dorchester County, the Baltimore County Police Department announced that Long, whom they found in Oklahoma, is now a suspect in his own grandparents' deaths.
Long is hospitalized, so detectives have not yet questioned him, police said in a release Friday morning.
Long, who had lived with the Peppers—a neighbor said for about a year—was missing when Pikesville precinct police found his grandparents' bodies. And since then, police had been searching for him.
The Peppers' neighbor Wes Bickham said it was "so weird" that Long was missing.
That's because, as far as Bickham had seen during the year or so that Long had lived with his grandparents, Long didn't leave the house at all without them.
Bickham also questioned why Long, who appeared to be able-bodied, wasn't doing the lawnwork, or at least helping.
Rather, Vaughn Pepper was doing all of it, and was the only one to drive as well, he said.
A nice visit
But Roscher noticed other things. What he saw was a couple proud of their past and contented with their present.
"Vaughn and I talked ... about his work," Roscher said. "He was a trooper for the Maryland State Police for three decades. He talked about being a dad, about being involved in law enforcement, and living there in the community."
Roscher said Long discussed the damage done to the Peppers' home last year when the remnants of Hurricane Irene passed through, felling a tree right onto the house.
The three of them had to leave the house for weeks, staying at a hotel at first until the insurance company got them an apartment, he said.
"They seemed to be taking it all in stride," Roscher said.
According to Maryland State Police, Pepper, 87, retired in 1976 as a captain from the Motor Vehicle Division. He worked at Waterloo Barrack in Howard County. He served in the Army during World War II, where he earned the Purple Heart, according to his obituary in The Star Democrat in Dorchester County.
He and his wife, 85, had been married for 65 years—since 1947. They had lived in Sudbrook Park since 1965, and had three children. They are survived by two children and five grandchildren, including Long.
The Baltimore County Police Department's discovery of the double homicide was "all over the news" Monday night, Roscher said.
"They said 'elderly couple on Olmstead Road.' They didn't say the names. I said 'Please don't let it be the Peppers.' They're just a very, very nice couple," he said.
Their deaths are "a big loss" to a small parish like St. Charles that sees about 500 people attending weekly, Roscher said, noting it's difficult enough losing parishioners—especially longtime ones—of natural causes.
"Here's a man who, for 30 years or so every day when he went to work, put himself in some kind of potential danger as a law enforcement officer. And to lose his life after 80-plus years ... in the comfort in his own home, is so tragic."
Honoring their own
Come this weekend, the Peppers' faith home, St. Charles, will remember them during the regular "Prayers of the Faithful Petition."
"If we lose someone to death, and specifically if requested by a parishioner, they are (generally) mentioned by name," Roscher said.
It will go something like this: 'Let us pray for those who have died, especially' Vaughn George Pepper, Sr. and Marjorie Marie Moxey Pepper, he said.
Read more on the double homicide:
Monday, Sept. 10: UPDATE: 2 Found Dead in Pikesville Home
Tuesday, Sept. 11: UPDATE: Police Identify Pikesville Couple Found Dead Monday
Tuesday, Sept. 11: Police Identify Grandson of Pikesville Couple Found Dead
Wednesday, Sept. 12: Homicide Victim Served in Army, State Police
Wednesday, Sept. 12: Police: Homicide Victims' Grandson Not a Suspect
Wednesday, Sept. 12: Homicide Victims' Funeral, Burial Services Set for Friday