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In Lancaster, 3 deaths stir sadness, worry

LANCASTER — State investigators continued their probe into the deaths of three people found early Tuesday morning.

David J. Collins, 44 of 43 Wesson Road was found dead in his house of two gunshot wounds after a 911 call was made from the residence about 1 a.m. Emergency workers later discovered a pickup truck burning on Wesson Road, not far from Collins' residence. Inside were two bodies.

Neither of the people inside the truck have been identified by authorities.

Deputy Attorney General Janice K. Rundles called the investigation active and said more details would be released once the pair's identity was confirmed.

Collins' death was labeled a homicide.

In 2006, Collins was charged with burglary, though charges were dropped on the eve of the trial.

&#';It's a real tragedy. It affects people deeply in the North Country when you have an untimely death. The fact there are three people compounds that,&#'; said Harden Leonard, a Lancaster attorney who successfully represented Collins on the burglary charge.

&#';I am sure you go to any coffee shop people are talking about it...&#'; and Leonard said, worrying that the perpetrator is still at large.

In 2007, Collins was convicted of stalking and violating a protective order and was prohibited from having contact with a Vermont woman.

Friends said Collins spent most of his life in the North Country, living in Lancaster and Groveton in the 1990s. His mother lives on Route 2 and several of his three adult children are also in the area.

Some residents in his neighborhood said they believed the perpetrator was a person who had a longtime grudge against Collins. Many said they feel sad about his death, noting that Collins has had a difficult life since an accident involving his wife more than two decades ago left her in a vegetative state.

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