Investigators believe a man opened fire inside a North Hills nursing home may have also slain his wife at their home. Both killings may have been motivated by a desire to show mercy for the victims, one of whom has been in a vegetative state for five years and the other who may have suffered dementia. Patrick Healy reports for the NBC4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. on Dec. 11, 2013.
A man was arrested Wednesday morning after allegedly carrying out the possible mercy killings of his ailing wife and invalid sister, police said.
The suspect, identified as Lance Holger Anderson, 60, of Santa Clarita, is suspected of shooting his wife at their Santa Clarita home and then shooting his sister, identified as Lisa Nave, 58, in the head as she lay invalid in her bed at a North Hills nursing home.
The nursing home shooting happened about 9:20 a.m. when authorities responded to the Country Villa Sheraton Convalescent and Rehabilitation Hospital at 9655 Sepulveda Blvd.
"He came into the hospital, shot her once in the head, put the gun down, went out to a patio and waited for police to arrive" said LAPD Lt. Paul Vernon. “The motives and rationale for this kind of shooting can never be justified legally. Mr. Anderson made a unilateral, fateful decision to take two lives and forever alter his and so many others who loved his wife and his sister.”
No other patients nor staff were threatened or confronted by the suspect during the incident.
A derringer-type revolver was recovered at the nursing home, officials said.
The shooting death of Anderson's wife was uncovered when police said they received a call from family members who were concerned about her well being. She suffered from a degenerative disease, police said.
Once deputies checked the home Wednesday morning, they found her dead.
Neighbors said they heard what sounded like fireworks about 10 p.m. on Tuesday, but no one called police.
Neighbor Grace Madrigal said Anderson doted on his wife. She seemed to have health problems, but Anderson never talked about they were.
"He treated her like a jewel," Madrigal said.
Residents at the nursing home, meanwhile, were in shock over Nave's death.
"I was right next door to her for a whole year," said Ernie Murphy, who was awakened from a nap by the commotion. "How can he play God?"
Police said Nave had been invalid since 2008 and in constant care at the home. She came out of a coma four years ago, but had remained invalid and in need of close care, police said.
"It's terrible that somebody may feel so bad about someone else's condition that they might want to put them out of their misery, but that does not excuse it," said LAPD Detective Juan Santa.
NBC4's Gordon Tokumatsu contributed to this report.
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