A retired company director shot his wife and dog before turning the gun on himself, it has been claimed.
Donald and Margaret Knight, aged 78 and 77, were found in different rooms of their £500,000 remote farmhouse.
Police also found the body of the couple’s dog, which had been shot.
Officers said they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths and released a statement from the couple’s daughters Sarah, 48, and Susan, 53.
The sisters said: ‘We are devastated by this tragic news and wish to thank people for their kind words.
‘Donald and Margaret were a couple who loved each other’s company.
‘They were lovely parents and grandparents whose passing is a massive loss to our lives.’
A lifelong friend of Mr Knight yesterday revealed that Mary – who was known as Margaret – had been ill for a number of years.
Richard Clare, 78, grew up with Mr Knight in the village of Old, Northamptonshire, where his haulage company Knights of Old was established over a century ago.
He described the former chairman of the company as a ‘pillar of the community’ and said he built the farmhouse in Loddington after selling the family business 15 years ago.
Mr Clare said: ‘The business was set up around the back of the village here and he was the third generation to run it.
‘He was a pillar of this community. Everyone knew him and he was the parish council chairman for a number of years.’
Family friends said Mr Knight had built Loddington Coppice Farm after retiring from his family’s haulage firm
‘He sold the company because he was the last one of the Knights and they moved out of the village and built the farmhouse then.
‘It’s lovely inside it and they liked it because it was in a remote place with no neighbours. I knew his wife Mary had been ill but I don’t know if it was terminal or what it was.
‘He was such a lovely guy, I can’t imagine it ever getting too much for him if he was looking after her but I really don’t know.
‘I grew up with him and there was a group of us. He was a friend, although I hadn’t seen him for a year or two because he has moved out of the village and doesn’t come back.’
Results of post-mortem examinations into the deaths are expected to be released tomorrow.
Northamptonshire Police have revealed they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths – suggesting a possible murder suicide.
A police spokeswoman said: ‘After receiving a report at 2.10pm on Wednesday, police discovered the body of a 77-year-old woman and a 78-year-old man. We are not seeking anyone else in connection with these deaths.
‘A forensic post mortem examination will be taking place at Leicester Royal Infirmary to establish the cause of death.’
Mr Knight was well-known as the third-generation of his family to run Knights of Old – an international shipping company based in nearby Kettering.
A spokesman for the organisation yesterday confirmed Mr Knight held the position of chairman at the distribution company until he retired 15 years ago.
The business was set up by one of his ancestors, William Knight, in 1865.
A spokesman for the company said: ‘Mr Knight was the third generation of his family here and held the position of chairman.
‘He sold his shares and retired as far as we are aware 15 years ago. Another family has owned the business since and we have not spoken to Mr Knight’s family yet.
‘There are still a few people working here who knew him personally and worked with him.’
Locals in the village expressed shock at the sudden deaths of the popular elderly pair.
One regular at The Hare pub, which sits two miles from where the couple lived, said: ‘Donald shot her, then the dog then turned the gun on himself.
‘He was always shooting pheasants there so you heard gunshots sometimes.
‘I didn’t know them well but one lady said she was shouted at by Mr Knight’s wife when she tried to sell her raffle tickets three years ago.
‘She told me she drove down their drive and got out but Mrs Knight opened an upstairs window and told her to go away and get off her land.
‘There were also rumours that he had problems with money and people wanting money off him – so maybe they were worried about their security.’
Local residents also confirmed the couple had a daughter called Sarah Knight, 49, who is believed to live in a nearby village.
A neighbour of her ex-partner David Abbott, 48, who did not want to be named, said: ‘I just spoke to David on the phone. He is in bits.
‘He split up with Sarah seven or eight years ago but he knew the family well so is devastated.
‘We’re not sure what drove him to do this. It is just so tragic.’
Residents told how the couple – who built their dream home together ten years ago – seemed nothing but devoted to one another.
Conservative councillor Jim Hakewill, who is the mayor of Kettering Borough Council, said he spoke to Mr Knight on Tuesday while he was on the campaign trail.
Today, he said: ‘I literally just knocked on his door this week and we were talking about writing a book.
‘We had a conversation about politics and we were talking about years ago when I was a farmer’s son and had to take my tractor to his company.
‘He said he had left the company years ago and was going to write a book. They’ve been a local family around here for donkeys years.
‘I’m so sad to hear what’s happened, I really am. I’m so sorry for his family. He seemed fine to me when I saw him. He was in good spirits and talking about writing a book.’
Another villager, John Townsend, 65, added: ‘His family were the founders of Knights of Old. I knew Donald was the chairman but he retired ages ago.
‘They built that farmhouse for themselves about ten years ago. I heard a helicopter hovering over in the afternoon and loads of police cars screamed through the village.
‘My son said there was ten outside the house. It’s horrible to think that it might be a murder suicide.
‘No-one I’ve spoke to seems to know why it would have happened. It’s very sad because they seemed like a devoted couple.’
Read more: Daily Mail