Man charged with murder after apparent 'mercy killings'
- Lance Holger Anderson, 60, has been arrested and charged with murder
- He allegedly killed the two women on Wednesday morning
- Anderson's 68-year-old wife had dementia and was shot at their home
- Sister Lisa Nave, 58, was in a Los Angeles nursing home
By Daily Mail Reporter
PUBLISHED: 18:21 EST, 13 December 2013 | UPDATED: 18:26 EST, 13 December 2013
A California man was charged with murder on Friday after authorities said he shot and killed his dementia-stricken wife at their home and his sister in a convalescent home.
Lance Anderson, 60, faces two counts of murder, with special circumstance allegations of multiple murders and intentional discharge of a firearm with great bodily injury. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
Anderson was being held without bail and could be arraigned later in the day. It wasn't immediately known if he had retained a lawyer and no public defender had yet been assigned.
Arrested: A 60-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of killing his wife, then shooting dead his comatose sister at a Los Angeles nursing home
Coroner's Lieutenant Larry Dietz identified Anderson's wife as 68-year-old Bertha Maxine Anderson. She died of a gunshot wound to the head after the shooting earlier this week in the couple's suburban Santa Clarita home.
Authorities said Lance Anderson took a taxi on Wednesday from the home to the Country Villa Sheraton nursing facility in the North Hills area, where his 58-year-old sister, Lisa Nave, was shot in the head in her hospital bed.
Anderson then put the small-caliber revolver on a night stand and stepped into a courtyard, where he surrendered after police arrived, Los Angeles police Lieutenant Paul Vernon said.
Police initially said Nave was in a vegetative state or coma at the nursing home for the past five years, but Vernon said she was actually responsive and had been improving since a heart attack five years earlier left her in a yearlong coma.
Los Angeles police officers walk out of back of the Country Villa Sheraton nursing facility in the North Hills area of Los Angeles
A Los Angeles County Sheriff detective at the crime scene
After learning of Nave's death, family members called Los Angeles County deputies and asked them to check on the welfare of Anderson's wife.
Deputies found Bertha Anderson's body at the couple's three-bedroom town house on a curved, tree-lined street in Canyon Country. Sheriff's Lieutenant Holly Francisco said no weapon was found.
Family members told authorities that Bertha Anderson was suffering from dementia, said Vernon, who characterized the shootings as apparent mercy killings.
'He unilaterally decided to kill two people for whatever seemed like a rational reason to him,' Vernon said. 'But it isn't right for those who want those people to live. He can't make that decision.'
Neighbors described Lance Anderson as a chatty, friendly man who doted on his frail wife. He had indicated that he had moved from Arizona five or six months earlier because of his wife's health.
'He treated her like she was a jewel... because she was so fragile,' neighbor Gale Madrigal said.
Sometimes Lance Anderson was seen on their porch caressing his wife's hand, Madrigal said.
weeks ago, Anderson offered Madrigal his artificial Christmas tree,
telling her the couple wouldn't be doing anything for Christmas this
'I want people to understand that this man did not randomly walk into a hospital to commit this crime,' Lieutenant Paul Vernon said.
A resident, David Chabolla, said the gunshot sounded like a balloon popping.
He saw Mr Anderson sitting in the nursing home's courtyard with his head down before police arrested him on suspicion of murder.
A small-caliber handgun was recovered, police said.
Los Angeles Sheriffs guard an apartment complex where the wife was found dead
A resident saw Mr Anderson sitting in the nursing home's courtyard with his head down before police arrested him on suspicion of murder
Mr Anderson remained jailed.
After hearing about the killing, concerned family members contacted authorities and asked them to check on his wife's welfare.
Her body was found Wednesday morning in the couple's three-bedroom townhouse on a leafy, curving street in the Canyon Country area of Santa Clarita, a northern Los Angeles County suburb.
She had been shot with the gun found at the nursing home, a sheriff's statement said.
It wasn't immediately clear if Mr Anderson had a lawyer who could comment on the case.
Mr Anderson was 'the sweetest guy you could ever imagine,' neighbor Grace Madrigal said, holding back tears.
Mr Anderson and his wife moved into their home about five or six months ago, neighbors said.
Mr Anderson 'was introducing himself to anybody that was going into the driveway' of the townhouse complex, Madrigal recalled.
Apparent mercy killings: Police investigating the shootings have characterized them as mercy killings
Anderson said the couple had come from Arizona because of his wife's health. While he often left in the mornings, she was more reclusive, exchanging a few words while smoking or drinking coffee on the couple's balcony, Madrigal said.
'He treated her like she was a jewel ... because she was so fragile' and was sometimes seen on the balcony with her, caressing her hand, Madrigal said.
Kristen and Lee Booker said Anderson offered them food and help moving furniture after fire damaged their home in September.
Another neighbor recalled Anderson fixing her flat tire.
Two weeks ago, Mr Anderson offered Madrigal his artificial Christmas tree.
He told Madrigal that the couple wouldn't be doing anything for Christmas this year, she said.
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