Who would kill a little girl and her mother in their beds?

That was the question shocked neighbors were asking after a woman and girl were found dead inside a house in a quiet neighborhood near Summerville on Tuesday.

The woman and child were killed on Kershaw Road in Sangaree, a well-established neighborhood of tidy brick ranch homes with well-kept lawns, off U.S. Highway 17 a few miles east of Summerville.

“I don't know how anybody could harm a child,” said Paul Thomas, who has lived in a house next to the crime scene for more than 20 years. “It's hard for me to fathom that. I know as adults people harm each other. But when I heard about the little girl, it was very disturbing to me.”

Investigators revealed little information Tuesday, other than to say the deaths are being investigated as homicides. Several neighbors said the woman was the girl's mother, but investigators did not confirm that. More information is expected to be disclosed after an autopsy Wednesday, Berkeley County Coroner Bill Salisbury said.

Deputies discovered the bodies around noon Tuesday after a social worker from Sangaree Intermediate School went to the house at 302 Kershaw Road to check into why the girl had not been to school this week, Salisbury said. The social worker called the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office when nobody answered the door.

School officials referred all questions to the sheriff's office.

Investigators, including State Law Enforcement Division agents, were still on the scene well after dark. Shortly before sunset, they formed a horizontal line across the front yard and walked slowly forward to check every square foot for possible clues. They had already spent several hours inside the house.

Neighbors constantly stopped outside the yellow tape hoping to learn more about what happened.

“You don't expect that,” said Sarah Ambrose, 24, who has lived in the neighborhood since elementary school. “I was really shocked, just because it was so quiet.”

Neighbors said the woman and girl had lived in the house about a year, and they had never noticed any sort of disturbances.

Glenn Smith contributed to this story.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553 or follow him on twitter @dmunday.