Couple found dead in central Modesto home

11/06/2013 6:21 PM

11/07/2013 9:47 AM

UPDATE: Police on Thursday morning confirmed the identities of the couple as Donald Shively, 89, and Lillian Shively, 70.

"At this time in the investigation it appears this was a murder suicide," Sgt. Ivan Valencia said in a news release.

Police are investigating the deaths of a couple discovered in their central Modesto home late Wednesday afternoon.

Modesto police officers were called to a home on Monticello Avenue, northeast of Briggsmore and Tully, about 5 p.m. after a report of two people found dead.

The couple’s daughter, who was also their caretaker, said she found her parents’ bodies when she went to check on them for the second time Wednesday. She said it appeared her mother had been shot, and she later was told by police that her father had been, too.

Standing in front of the house, as a group of detectives held a briefing nearby, Donna Carnes talked about the past nine months with her parents, whom she identified as Don Shively, 89, and Lillian Shively, 70.

Carnes said they both had had dementia for a long time, and that she had started caring for them full time when her father broke his neck in February. Carnes said she often stayed with them or checked on them throughout the day and administered their medications.

She said she went to their home late Wednesday morning and they both were sleeping. “I came back four hours later and I found my dad on the floor in the bathroom, and I went to my mom’s bedside and she had what appeared to be a gunshot in her face,” she said. “They both clearly were not alive.”

Carnes said she ran outside for help, and a neighbor called 911. The neighbor gave her the phone and the dispatcher asked her to go back inside to check her parents for a pulse. Neither had one.

She said the front door was locked when she got to the home, but that she had not checked the back door before police and emergency medical personnel arrived. A neighbor said he saw Lillian Shively in front of the home about 2:30 p.m.

Carnes said she didn’t get a close look at her father’s injuries and didn’t see a weapon, but police told her one was found. “It doesn’t look like an intruder at this point, so if I had to guess I think that was probably my dad. He had dementia really bad; he probably took my mom and him both.”

The Shivelys were avid shooters, Carnes said, but all of their firearms had been kept locked in a safe except for one small handgun she referred to as a “Brownie.”

Carnes said the dementia affected her parents differently, but she never had seen either behave violently toward the other.

“I am just in awe. I can’t even believe this is happening,” Carnes said. “They loved each other so much. He (Don Shively) has been in a lot of pain and they are both on anti-depressants. Something went bad, some wiring somewhere in his mind.”

Police would not comment on Carnes’ account of events, saying only that homicide detectives are investigating the deaths.

Anyone with information about the case can call Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636. Tipsters can email through the Crime Stoppers website,, or text tips to CRIMES (274637) by typing “Tip704” plus a message. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward.

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