The Palo Alto man who police said fatally shot the apartment manager at the Alta Torre Apartments before killing himself in the building's elevator believed that the manager was stealing items from his apartment, the police investigation concluded.
Marc Alvin Miller, 69, is believed to have shot the building's manager, Vincent DePaul Collins, 70, four times on the afternoon of March 19 in the manager's office of the Fabian Way complex for low-income seniors. He then reportedly entered the building's elevator and shot himself once in the head with a 9-mm Smith and Wesson pistol.
Since that afternoon, Palo Alto officers have been interviewing residents, friends and family members of the men to determine the possible motive for the shooting.
The investigation revealed that on Feb. 8, Miller called the police to allege that Collins had been entering his apartment when it was unoccupied and stealing miscellaneous objects. Police said an officer responded to the call but could find no evidence that a crime had been committed.
"The officer interviewed (Collins), who denied that he had committed any theft or had even been inside the suspect's apartment without his permission," Palo Alto police said in a statement.
Police did not specify which items were purported to have been stolen, though officers say they were personal items with no obvious monetary value. Miller had allegedly told several friends that he believed Collins had stolen from him, though according to the police, the friends told Miller that he had "likely just misplaced the items."
Though some neighbors suggested that Collins' strict enforcement of complex rules, particularly its parking policies, may have contributed to the dispute, police said that the investigation did not uncover any motives for the shooting murder aside from the suspected theft. After the March 19 incident, Palo Alto police searched the homes of both Miller and Collins and didn't find any evidence suggesting that anything had been stolen.
Police said that since Alta Torre Apartments opened in 2010, there has not been a single theft or burglary reported at the facility. Collins had worked at Alta Torre as a manager since the building opened.
The March incident was the city's first homicide since October 2009, when Bulos Zumot was arrested for killing his girlfriend, Jennifer Schipsi, and setting their shared cottage on fire.
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Police investigate possible murder-suicide in Palo Alto (March 19, 2015)