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Questions remain about April deaths of 3 in Lancaster

An investigation shows a Lancaster man shot to death a neighbor he had frequent disputes with last April, yet officials say they’re not sure how the shooter and his wife wound up dead in their burned-out camper.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Janice Rundles said it’s clear that 64-year-old Gene Sly shot to death his 44-year-old neighbor, David Collins, on April 17 at Collins’s home. The Attorney General’s office issued its final report on the deaths Friday.

Collins’s son told investigators Sly came to their home at about 3 a.m. and asked to see his father. Nicholas Collins woke up his father and was returning to his bedroom when he heard gunshots and found his father lying in the front entryway of their home. He saw Sly running back toward his house.

David Collins died before ambulance personnel reached the house. He had been shot in the right temple and abdomen.

The police saw a fire in the driveway of Sly’s home, but did not immediately approach because they believed Sly was in the house he shared with his 64-year-old wife, Elena.

Rundles said it wasn’t until a remote device determined the house was empty that they approached the burning vehicle and discovered the bodies of Sly and his wife burned beyond recognition. Gene Sly was identified through dental records and a hip prosthesis. The other body could not be positively identified, but investigators presume it’s the body of Elena Sly.

The report states that it isn’t clear whether Sly took his wife’s life or both committed suicide.

“The search of the Slys’ home appeared to indicate that the occupants intended to leave, either temporarily or permanently,” according to the report. “However, no evidence was found that clearly indicated why David Collins was killed or what Gene Sly’s intentions were after he killed Collins.”

Investigators say the two families had a history of boundary disputes concerning their adjoining properties.

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