The victims of a horrific quadruple murder that has stunned the upstate New York city of Troy were found bound with their throats slashed, according to police sources quoted by a local news outlet.
The victims were identified on Thursday by police as 36-year-old Shanta Myers; her partner Brandi Mells, 22; her daughter, Shanise Myers, 5; and her son, Jeremiah “JJ” Myers, 11. The bodies were found the afternoon after Christmas, in their rented basement apartment, by a property manager who was reportedly asked to do a welfare check.
“There are indications at the crime scene that this was not a random act,” shaken Troy Police Chief James Tedesco said at press conference Wednesday. “After being in this business for almost 42 years, I can’t describe the savagery of this. I don’t have the word.”
“It was the number of people killed, the manner in which they were killed,” Tedesco said. “And the children being involved.”
Tedesco confirmed Thursday that Shanta Myers and Brandi Mells were in a relationship but would not elaborate. He declined to identify a cause of death, a possible motive, or the suspected weapon used in the crime. An autopsy has been conducted, but the preliminary results had not yet been released on Thursday afternoon.
The police chief seemed to indicate that a killer or killers may have been known to the victims, as he insisted there was no threat to the public, despite the heinous scene he has been left to process.
“We feel that someone who commits a crime of this magnitude is capable of anything, but we do not believe it was a random act,” Tedesco told reporters Wednesday. “We do not believe there is any imminent danger to the community.”
The killings came in Troy’s quiet Lansingburgh section, in a neighborhood of restored Victorian homes overlooking the Hudson River, an area not known for violence. The city of 50,000 had just two reported homicides all year until Tuesday. The Industrial Age hub was once one of the wealthiest in America in its heyday, and has seen a resurgence in tech spurred by nearby Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; the state capital of Albany is 10 miles away.
City officials all expressed dismay at the horrific crime.
“How could something like this happen?” City Councilman Mark McGrath wondered, according to News 10. “What would drive any individual or individuals to attack children like that?”
At the press conference, an emotional Frank Mayben Jr. said he knew Jeremiah “JJ” Myers from coaching the 11-year-old in baseball and basketball at Troy’s Central School District.
“Outstanding young man,” Mayben said. “Very coachable. Listened. Had the discipline. Wanted to be a leader. Wanted to be part of everything that was right.
“I was looking forward to being the coach of the little girl.”
Tracy Coleman, who claims she is a cousin of the family, posted on Facebook after news of the slayings broke: “To all of the reporters who are inboxing me, our family does not wish to speak at this time. Our hearts are shattered. Please give us time to grieve.”
Local officials along with the police were making strong appeals to the public for anyone to come forward with information, no matter how insignificant it may seem.
Late Wednesday, Albany pastor Charlie Muller, of Victory Christian Church, offered a $5,000 reward for information on the killings.
“I know there is not a resource that we won’t tap in the city, or wherever we need to get it,” Tedesco said. “This will be a full-court press, if you will, until we bring someone to justice.”