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Girl Survives Shootings That Left Mother, Father, Brothers Dead

July 27, 1987

MONTCLAIR, Calif. (AP) _ A distraught woman apparently shot her husband and twin sons to death, tried to kill her daughter and then turned the gun on herself, police said Monday.

Cassandra Copeland, 6, lay bleeding for up to 40 hours before relatives broke into the house and discovered her Sunday, police Lt. Terry Gibson said Monday.

She was in serious condition Monday at Loma Linda University Medical Center, Gibson said. Hospital spokeswoman Gracie Garner said confidentiality had been requested and she was unable to confirm that the little girl was in the hospital.

The bodies of Robert Lee Copeland, 36, Leslie Copeland, 33, and their 3- year-old twin sons, Jonathon and Jeffrey, were found in the family’s home, said police Capt. Guy Eisenbrey.

Cassandra was ″coherent and alive″ on the floor next to her father’s bed, he said. She apparently rolled off the bed after being shot in the abdomen.

Eisenbrey said Mrs. Copeland apparently arrived home late Friday or early Saturday and shot her husband in the temple as he slept.

Cassandra, who was next to her father, apparently was shot next, Eisenbrey said.

The bodies of the twins were found in another bedroom, and Mrs. Copeland’s body was found just inside the door of the master bedroom.

A suicide note was found, Gibson said, but police had determined no motive for the shootings. Detectives were trying to verify that the signature on the letter was Mrs. Copeland’s.

A ″large caliber″ handgun was lying next to Mrs. Copeland’s body, Eisenbrey said.

Neighbors living on both sides of the Copeland house said they heard shots, Eisenbrey said.

″They heard two sets of shots just minutes apart. But after hearing what they thought were shots, they convinced themselves that it wasn’t shots at all,″ he said.

Relatives visited the home Saturday but could get no one to answer the door, Eisenbrey said. On Sunday, Copeland’s brother, Robert, climbed through a window in the back of the house.

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