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Four in Montclair Family Killed in Shooting; Girl, 6, Is Wounded

July 28, 1987|JACK JONES | Times Staff Writer

A Montclair girl clung to life Monday as the only survivor of a family tragedy in which a woman apparently shot her husband, 3-year-old twin sons and herself to death, police reported.

Detectives said it appeared that Leslie Copeland, 33, arrived home late Friday night and shot her husband, Robert Lee Copeland, 36, in the temple as he slept. The bodies of the couple's sons, Jonathan and Jeffrey, were found in another bedroom.

Their daughter, Cassandra, 6, was wounded in the abdomen and apparently rolled off the father's bed onto the floor, police said. She lay there until a relative forced his way into the house Sunday afternoon--about 40 hours after the shootings.

The mother's body was found on the floor of the master bedroom, investigators said. Next to her was a handgun.

Police said Cassandra was in serious condition at Loma Linda University Medical Center, but a spokeswoman there declined to say anything about the child, citing a request by relatives for confidentiality.

"The little girl is still alive," Montclair Police Sgt. Vince Leone said Monday. "Last night she was conscious and talking. She couldn't say what happened. Her statement is that she's been in a bad dream."

Leone said officers found a note apparently written by the mother, "but it was not specific as to what the problem was." He added, however, that there were reports that the family had been having financial problems.

Neighbors on both sides of the home at 4861 Mane St. in the quiet middle-class neighborhood told of hearing shots, but Leone said they did not agree on whether that was shortly before or shortly after Friday midnight.

Relatives reportedly went to the house on Saturday, but could not get an answer at the door. On Sunday, police said, a brother of Robert Copeland climbed in through a back window to discover the bodies and the wounded girl.

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