Police identify sisters found shot to death in North Tampa home

TAMPA — Police are investigating the fatal shooting death of two North Tampa sisters as a double homicide.

Police say Linda J. Helms, 62, and Vickie Sterling, 54, were found shot to death about 4:30 p.m. Thursday inside their home at 808 E Lotus Ave. in North Tampa.

A friend who had been unable to reach them by phone went to their house and found them dead in separate rooms, police said.

Police declined to release any additional information Friday, calling the case an active investigation.

Police ask anyone who may have seen or heard anything suspicious in the past week to call them at (813) 231-6130 or call Crime Stoppers toll-free at 1-800-873-8477.

Sterling had just graduated from Ultimate Medical Academy in Tampa with a diploma to become a medical clinical laboratory assistant.

Graduation day was March 31.

"She was very excited about graduation and feeling good about herself," said Linda Weldon, a vice president of community relations with the academy. She was "very happy and proud."

Her Facebook profile shows a picture of her beaming in a blue graduation gown and cap.

"What a tragic thing," Weldon said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family."

On her page, Sterling wrote she has six grown children.

Helms' son and friends expressed their surprise at the sudden loss on her Facebook profile.

"I love you mommy!" wrote one of Helm's children, Ben Kowalewski. "Rest in peace sweet angel! I can't even believe this!!!"

She's been living in Tampa for 24 years. She lived in Omaha, Neb., and Prior Lake, Minn., before that, according to Facebook.

She had Sjögren's syndrome, a chronic autoimmune disease.

In her profile, she said she misses her friends from Prior Lake and laments not going into the U.S. Army when she was younger.

Police identify sisters found shot to death in North Tampa home 04/13/12 [Last modified: Friday, April 13, 2012 11:57pm]

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