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AG report gives new details on Lancaster deaths

February 22. 2013 11:10PM

CONCORD - The Attorney General's Office final report on the April 17, 2012, homicide in Lancaster provides additional details but no specific motive for the middle of the night murder/suicide on Wesson Road involving neighbors who had had property boundary disputes.

The investigation by the Attorney General's Office and New Hampshire State Police says the incident began when David Collins, 44, was fatally shot after his neighbor, Gene Sly, 64, came to the Collins residence at 43 Wesson Road at 3 a.m.

Collins' son, Nicholas, said he was awakened by knocking at the door and said Sly, who lived next door at 53 Wesson Road, asked to speak to his father.

Nicholas woke his father and went back to bed, only to be awakened by a gunshot. He went to the front hallway, where his father was lying on the floor, wounded. Nicholas said he saw Sly was running across the yard to his residence.

After telling a responding Lancaster Police Officer what he knew, Nicholas loaded three bullets into a handgun. Officer Richard Ball was unable to stop Nicholas from leaving the residence, so he ran after him toward the Sly residence, noticing something burning in the Sly driveway.

Ball said Nicholas fired three shots at the Sly home from a distance of about 30 feet and then ran back to his own home, where Ball was able to get possession of the gun.

When ambulance personnel arrived, David Collins was dead from bullet wounds to the right temple and right abdomen.

Officers from Lancaster, Northumberland and the New Hampshire State Police surrounded the Sly residence, but were unable to contact the Slys. It was not until later that a remote device was able to determine there was no one within the residence.

During a later search, it appeared the Slys intended to leave either temporarily or permanently.

But while the whereabouts of the Slys were unknown, the fire department was unable to approach the residence to extinguish the fire in the driveway.

As a result, the pickup truck with camper attached was almost completely destroyed by the fire. Two bodies were found in the debris, one identified as Gene Sly through dental records and a hip prosthesis, was in the cab. The other, apparently in the over-the-cab area of the camper, could not be positively identified, but because of the circumstances was presumed to be Sly's wife, Elena, 64.

Investigators found a .38 revolver in the debris, but its condition was such that forensic laboratory personnel were unable to determine whether it had fired the two .38 casings found at the Collins home. Several .38 and .22 bullet casings and bullets were also found in the fire debris, but were not suitable for comparison with a firearm and the bullets did not appear to have been fired from a gun.

Because of the extent of the fire damage to the truck and camper, the State Fire Marshal was unable to determine the origin or cause, but concluded the fire was most likely intentionally set.

The report concludes that evidence supports the original hypothesis: Gene Sly intentionally killed David Collins, after which he either killed his wife, Elena, or they both committed suicide.

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