Two weeks ago, Lance Holger Anderson gave his Christmas tree to a neighbor, telling her “we’re not having Christmas this year.”

The neighbor thought nothing of it until Wednesday, when police cars swarmed the apartment complex.

Police allege that Anderson killed his ailing wife at their Canyon Country apartment, then drove to a North Hills nursing facility, where he fatally shot his near-comatose sister. Anderson then dropped the gun and waited officers to arrive, police said.

LAPD Lt. Paul Vernon said detectives are investigating the slayings as possible mercy killings.

“I use the term 'mercy killing' in terms of describing a killing here because I want people to understand that this man did not randomly walk into a hospital to commit this crime,” Vernon said. “He knew his sister was there in a vegetative state.”

His wife suffered from some type of dementia, and his sister had been in a vegetative state for five years after suffering a heart attack.

Anderson, 60, and his wife, Maxine, move into their Canyon Country apartment complex six months ago. Neighbors say he was caring and loving to his wife.

“He was very dainty with her. You see him caressing her hand,” said Grace Madrigal.

“He was caressing her like she was a jewel, you could tell that's how he treated her.”

Madrigal said it was clear his wife was ill but he never offered details. She said he once mentioned that he had another sick relative and that caring for both of them appeared to taking a toll on him.

Detectives allege that Anderson killed his wife Wednesday morning with a single gunshot to the head. He then allegedly drove 15 miles to Country Villa Sheraton Nursing and Rehabilitation hospital in North Hills.

Anderson entered the Sepulveda Boulevard center shortly after 9 a.m., pulled out the same a small-caliber handgun he alleged used to kill his wife and shot his 59-year-old sister, Lisa Nave, in the head, Vernon said.

Two other patients lay unconscious in the same area where the killing occurred.

Another patient, David Chabolla, 61, said he had just finished eating breakfast and a nurse was bandaging the IV on his forearm when he heard something.“It sounded like a balloon popped,” Chabolla said.

He said staff members went into the room next to him and discovered Nave had been shot. “That's when all the commotion started,” he said. “There was screaming and people running around.”

Bob Davies, 70, said his 101-year-old mother at the nursing home slept through the shooting.

“One of the blessings of being older is that you sleep through horrible events,” Davies said.

As police investigated the nursing home shooting, the LAPD called relatives who expressed concerns about the welfare of Anderson’s wife, Vernon said.

Sheriff’s deputies made a welfare check at the Canyon Country apartment and found her dead. Neighbors said they cannot believe Anderson killed two people.

“He didn’t seem very violent,” said Lee Booker who lives with his wife Kristen, across the complex alleyway. “He was very nice.”

 

ALSO:

Mega Millions jackpot is now at $400 million and growing

L.A. weather soon to go from frigid to warmer than normal

Man was accidentally electrocuted at Long Beach church, coroner rules

joseph.serna@latimes.com
ruben.vives@latimes.com
richard.winton@latimes.com