On the morning of December 11, 2013, Lisa Nave lay in a north Los Angeles nursing home bed in a vegetative state, just as she had done for 5 years following a severe heart attack.
Lance Holger Anderson entered the room in which his sister lay, for the purpose of paying her one last visit. Anderson approached the bed and told Lisa he was “sending her home.” He then raised a gun to her head and pulled the trigger.
Following the shooting, Anderson walked into the courtyard with his head down and awaited police and arrest, according to the account of a resident. Lisa Nave’s family learned of the shooting and asked police to check on Anderson’s wife, who was suffering from dementia.
The police obliged and then found Bertha Maxine Anderson in the couple’s apartment dead from gunshot wounds to the head. When Anderson spoke of his reasoning for the two slayings, he did not see it as cruel but as acts of kindness and compassion. About his wife’s dementia and state, Anderson said, “”She didn’t want to live like this. It was brutal.”
The double murders shocked friends and neighbors of Lance Anderson, who knew him as a caring and loving husband and brother. Anderson was found guilty on two counts of murder last month, and on Wednesday, the 63-year-old was sentenced to 100 years to life in prison.
The case has once again stirred debate over the issue of mercy killings and euthanasia. One reader commented to the Los Angeles Times about the case.
“Hard to say who is right about this guy, but he won’t be the last to make this kind of decision. We are a planet full of aging people and not enough caregivers or money to take care of everyone equitably.”
During the trial, prosecutors had argued that Anderson had taken the lives of his sister and wife into his own hands and successfully pointed out that neither woman had asked to die.
Those who know Anderson said there was no sign of his intention to kill Maxine. Everyone knew him as a doting husband whose life was focused around his wife. One friend shared that “He was pretty much taking care of his wife 24-7. He was very concerned about his wife. He hoped she would get better.”
The cleaner at the condo where the couple lived, Marianela Solis, stated that the only time she saw Lance become angry was when she was too loud while cleaning because it bothered Maxine.
“He said the noise bothered his wife. He told me to be quiet.”
Neighbor Grace Madrigal spoke of her views of Anderson with the Associated Press, as the Cape Cod Times shares.
“[Anderson was] the sweetest guy you could ever imagine.”
She stated that she often saw the couple on their balcony of the Santa Clarita townhome and Lance would be stroking Maxine’s hand.
“He treated her like she was a jewel … because she was so fragile.”
Madrigal did share the only clue that seemed a bit odd at the time, yet makes sense to her given the deadly outcome. The Washington Post summarizes the account of neighbors Jay Johnson and Madrigal as well as the killing of Maxine Anderson by her loving husband Lance.
“There was only one hint of the horrors to come, she said. Two weeks before the murders, Anderson offered Madrigal his artificial Christmas tree. The couple wouldn’t be needing it this year, he said. On the night of Dec. 10, neighbors heard two loud but distant booms, like thunder on the horizon.’I came out on the balcony,’ Jay Johnson told the Signal. ‘I was waiting and waiting and I saw and heard nothing.’ It wasn’t until police cars arrived the next day that Johnson learned what had happened: Anderson had shot his wife in the head twice with a small pistol.”
[Photo by Spencer Weiner/Getty Images]