A Pennsylvania mother accused of brutally slaying five family members—three of whom are under the age of 14—with her daughter claimed on Tuesday that the carnage was part of a murder-suicide pact.
Shana Decree, 45, and her daughter, Dominique, 19, were found “disoriented” in bed in their two-bedroom Bucks County apartment Monday evening after a maintenance worker opened the door for a wellbeing check.
The mom “told police that everyone at the apartment, including the nine-year-olds and the thirteen-year-old, wanted to die,” an arrest affidavit released Tuesday says. “Shana advised that all, including the children were talking about suicide.”
The two were immediately rushed to Jefferson Bucks Hospital, while the five other family members were pronounced dead at the scene. The deceased were revealed as Decree’s children, Naa’Irah Smith, 25, and Damon Decree Jr., 13; her sister, Jamilla Campbell, 42; and Campbell’s 9-year-old twin daughters, Imani and Erika Allen.
Campbell’s son—who also lives at the eight-person residence—was missing as of Monday evening but “has been located and is safe” in New Jersey, authorities confirmed to The Daily Beast, adding that he is not considered a suspect and had recently run away.
Joshua Campbell, 17, was said to have recently fled the home after becoming disillusioned with his family members. He “was drinking the Kool-Aid, too,” Morrisville Borough Police Chief George McClay told the New York Post, noting that the teen had initially heard and believed the rhetoric that his accused aunt and cousin were pushing but left to go stay with friends in New Jersey—not knowing it would be the last time he would see his mom and twin sisters. Joshua “said in no way did he ever think that they would ever hurt the children, or he would have never left,” McClay said. “He said they were just goofy, talking stuff, but nothing like this.”
Investigators are still working to determine the timeline of the quintuple homicide, but believe the slayings occurred Saturday, two days before the bodies were found.
The suicide pact is only the latest explanation from the mother and daughter, who have changed their story multiple times since authorities found them in that first-floor apartment two hours outside of Philadelphia.
Authorities responded to a call from the apartment maintenance worker Monday evening, who opened the door for a Bucks County social worker after two failed well-being checks over the weekend.
When the two opened the door, police say, they were “horrified” by the “grisly scene.”
“The apartment was in disarray, with furniture turned over, and with glass and clutter throughout,” the affidavit said. The bodies of the two women and three children were scattered around one bedroom, the 13-year-old boy on a bed, while the others were strewn about the floor.
“Everything was broken up for a reason,” McClay said, adding that neighbors did not report any unusual activity. “We don’t know why, though.”
Morrisville Borough Police and Bucks County prosecutors also confirmed to The Daily Beast that official causes of death have not yet been determined—adding that it may take several weeks.
At the hospital, the pair allegedly waived their Miranda rights and agreed to speak to police without an attorney present, the affidavit said.
The mother-of-three initially “denied knowing what occurred,” per officials, before quickly changing her story, alleging that her sister’s boyfriend and “two unknown males came into the apartment and killed everyone, except her and Dominique.”
In a separate room eight doors down, her 19-year-old daughter who had “visible injuries to her neck” reiterated a similar story, alleging that an unknown man attacked her.
“She also repeatedly advised her wish to die,” the affidavit said.
Less than five hours later, however, Dominique changed her story once again, confessing that her mother killed one twin, the 13-year-old, and Smith. She insisted, however, that Campbell “choked [one of the 9-year-olds] to death” before Dominique strangled her aunt.
Her mother also provide a detailed description of the killing to police, alleging Dominique helped her with one of the killings and that Campbell killed Smith.
The two were arrested moments after the confession.
“This is one of the worst homicides we’ve had in Bucks County,” Morrisville Police Chief George said. “We’re a very safe community. This is something the police really can’t do anything about. It happened inside.”
The mother-and-daughter pair were charged Tuesday with five counts of murder and one count of conspiracy, police said. Decree is being held without bail, while her daughter is expected to be arraigned Tuesday evening.
“To be able to resolve a case in which five people were murdered within the course of a half a day and have the two people responsible locked up and facing justice is amazing and a true testament to the quality of law enforcement that we enjoy here in Bucks County,” Weintraub said in a press conference. “It doesn't make it any easier, but I’m at least grateful to say that everybody out there is safe and not at risk from these killers.”