Report on three shooting deaths to be released soon
A final coroner’s report on the death of three people who went to South Tahoe High School is expected in a month.
Investigation into the case began March 26 on a bluff outside Santa Cruz. There, around 6:30 p.m., the bodies of David Bachman, Melinda Leippe and Brenda White were discovered slumped in a circle, dead from shotgun wounds.
The report will draw from 47 more detailed reports written by investigators in California, Colorado and Oregon.
“A massive amount of manpower has gone into the case,” said Alan Burt, Santa Cruz County sheriff’s detective coroner. “We’ve pulled out all the stops. I’m satisfied we have all the information we possibly could have. There is still a possibility we’ll rule it a probable suicide pact.”
Death certificates list the cause as suicide and double murder because investigators say Bachman shot Leippe and White. Toxicology tests detected marijuana in each of their systems, Burt said.
Bachman, 26, died of a self-inflicted blast to the front of his head. Leippe, Bachman’s girlfriend, died from a shot to the back of her head and neck, as did White, a friend of Leippe.
Bachman graduated from STHS in 1994. Leippe graduated in 2000, the same year White left high school as a junior. Both women were 19 years old when they died.
Bachman and Leippe moved to Littleton, Colo., in the spring of 2000, where Bachman had relatives. White joined the couple in August of that year.
Records indicate the couple shared an apartment while White rented an apartment in the same complex. The apartment manager said all three moved out about two months before the shooting.
White stopped at South Lake Tahoe to visit her family two days before her body was found. Keely White believes her daughter was not part of a suicide pact because she enjoyed life and had “concrete plans.”
White told her mother that she would return to South Lake Tahoe for a visit the same day she was found dead by people who went to the bluff to watch a sunset.
— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or at firstname.lastname@example.org