Two Bucks County women pled guilty Monday to murdering five of their relatives in 2019, ending a case that drew headlines for its grisly and tragic details.
Shana Decree, 47, and her daughter Dominique Decree, 21, admitted to five counts of first-degree murder and a separate count of conspiracy to commit murder.
All five bodies were discovered inside the bedroom of a Morrisville apartment in February 2019. Among the dead were 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.
Shortly after authorities discovered the five bodies inside an apartment in Morrisville, Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub said his office was looking into the possibility that the alleged murders were part of a murder-suicide pact.
Prosecutors did not clarify Monday what triggered the murders, but said outside experts evaluated Shana and Dominique Decree and found both of them suffered from severe mental illness at the time of the killings, including schizoid personality disorder, major depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Because of those diagnoses, Weintraub opted not to seek the death penalty.
“As it stands, they both will spend the rest of their lives in prison cells separated from the rest of us, as punishment,” Weintraub said in a statement.
Prosecutor Christopher Rees called the Decree murder case the most “heartbreaking” he’s ever seen.
“I have never seen a case with this level of sadness, this level of loss,” Rees said.
The five murders took place over three days, authorities said. During the investigation, Shana Decree told police that the five victims wanted to die, according to the Bucks County District Attorney’s office.
The two women were sentenced to five consecutive life sentences after entering “guilty but mentally ill” pleas to five counts of first-degree murder.
President Judge Wallace Bateman told the two that they had caused “unimaginable” harm, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
“This is horrible and tragic, because I do believe the two of you have expressed remorse,” Bateman said Monday as he sentenced the defendants. “Unfortunately, that doesn’t bring them back. You can’t say, ‘Sorry’ and expect people to move on with their lives.”
Both women offered tearful apologies to the court and other relatives in the courtroom.
“The hardest thing for me to do is decide who to say I’m sorry to first,” Shana Decree said. “To my family, I am sorry for taking away these beautiful souls in such a horrible manner.”
Dominique Decree sobbed as she said her actions will haunt her for the rest of her life.
“I’m so sorry for everything that happened, and I truly don’t understand why it happened,” she said.
Shana Decree’s attorney, Christa Dunleavy, said her client was isolated and delusional at the time of the killings, believing “the world was ending and there were demons in her house, and she had to obey them.”
“Her family tried to help her,” Dunleavy said, “But the delusions were too strong.”
The Associated Press contributed reporting.
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