Updated: 5:50 p.m. EST
Two women were in custody Tuesday, charged with killing five of their family members in Bucks County.
Shana Selena Decree, 45, and her daughter Dominique Klaran Decree, 19, are charged with five counts each of criminal homicide and one count of conspiracy in the deaths of Shana’s daughter Naa’Irah Smith, 25, and son Damon Decree Jr., 13; Shana’s sister Jamilla Campbell, 42; and Campbell’s 9-year-old twin daughters, Imani and Erika Allen.
Speaking at a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub became emotional while reading the names of the youngest victims.
“I just wish we didn’t have to report it. I wish we didn’t have to deal with it,” he said.
In response to reports that the homicides resulted from a murder-suicide pact gone awry, Weintraub called that “a potentiality.”
“I can certainly comment on the murder aspect of it, because we know that that was accomplished,” he said. “As far as what the two defendants contemplated themselves, that would be purely speculation at this point.”
A Bucks County caseworker had attempted to visit the apartment, located at 200 West Bridge St. in Morrisville, for a wellness check and found the door locked. About 4 p.m. Monday, an apartment maintenance worker opened the door to the apartment that was in “disarray” with upended furniture and broken glass scattered about.
That worker found Shana and Dominique, who were “disoriented,” in the apartment, then contacted authorities.
Police arrived to find the five bodies in a back bedroom.
Weintraub confirmed that the Bucks County Children and Youth Services Agency had an active case involving the family that led to the wellness check. He referred other questions about the family’s involvement with child services to that department.
A spokesman for the agency declined comment Tuesday.
“The county and Children and Youth are not at this time releasing any information regarding this matter, but are continuing to evaluate the circumstances of this tragedy,” said Larry King.
Authorities Monday transported Shana and Dominique Decree to the hospital. Dominique had marks on her neck and “repeatedly advised her wish to die,” according to the affidavit. She may require further medical care, according to Weintraub.
Both women initially denied knowing what happened, then said unknown men and Campbell’s boyfriend had entered the apartment and committed the murders.
Some time later, Shana Decree told police that all of the people in the apartment “wanted to die” and that even the children talked about suicide. She told police that she had killed at least two of her family members, Dominique killed two, and that Campbell had choked at least one person to death. Dominique Decree admitted to killing one person, according to the affidavit.
Weintraub said he could not share more information about causes of death.
At 200 West Bridge St. in the small town across the river from Trenton, New Jersey, police cordoned off the area around the ground-level apartment. As Tuesday afternoon traffic flowed by, residents of the Robert Morris Apartments peeked through curtains and patio doors, but retreated when asked for comment. A woman approaching the apartments who gave her name as Natasha said her daughter had known Dominique since ninth grade and had spent the night at their house before.
“They seemed like very nice people,” she said. “It was shocking, I didn’t expect it … I feel like there is more to it than just what we’re seeing.”
Around the back of the building, a man smoking a cigarette said he did not want to be interviewed, but that he had seen the family and would be praying for them.
Latasha Harris came out a third-floor apartment to talk about her daughter, Destiny, 19, who has the same father as the twins, Imani and Erika, and spent a lot of time with them. Destiny also attended high school with Dominique.
“She’s just like, ‘Mommy I don’t understand, I don’t understand Mommy, I don’t understand,” said Harris. “‘Why my sisters? Why Dominique?” Harris said her daughter said Dominique started acting differently about a month ago, but she did not specify how.
Police arraigned Shana Decree with no bail on Tuesday morning. After her arraignment, Dominique Decree will be held under 24-hour watch. Joshua Campbell, son of Jamilla Campbell, who also lives in the Morrisville apartment, was not at home and was found safe Monday night. That’s “one bit of good news,” said Weintraub.