Nancy Burgess was visiting her mother, 92-year-old Maxine McCrary, at McCrary's Roanoke Rapids home Friday when the two were murdered.
Police say a neighbor robbed and then stabbed the women.
McCrary was on the phone with her son in Virginia when she mentioned that her neighbor was at the door. She said he might need to use the phone again.
McCrary told her son she would call him back and hung up.
"A few hours later, the family member contacted the police to check on the welfare of the two ladies," Roanoke Police Chief Jeff Hinton said.
Chief Hinton says the information about a neighbor dropping by led to the arrest of 28-year-old Tony Gorham.
Gorham has a criminal history with convictions for violent crimes, including assault, assault on a female, assault with a deadly weapon, resisting an officer and robbery.
He was on probation at the time of the murders and according to state officials; he met with his probation officer the day before the murders.