Did a Pennsylvania mother and her teen daughter allegedly kill five relatives because of religious reasons?
Shana Decree, 45, and her 19-year-old daughter, Dominique Decree, are charged with five counts of criminal homicide and one count of conspiracy to commit criminal homicide after five of their family members were found dead in a Morrisville apartment they shared with them Monday.
Surviving relatives said they believe the family may have gotten wrapped up in some type of cult, according to multiple reports.
Shana and Dominique were found Monday by a maintenance man who called emergency services after discovering the pair disoriented and lying in bed, and the apartment in disarray, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case.
The man had entered the home at the behest of a representative of the Bucks County Children and Youth Social Services Agency, who had made an unannounced visit to the apartment and couldn't get anyone to answer the door.
Police who responded to the residence said they found a chaotic scene. Glass and clutter blanketed much of the house’s floor. Furniture was flipped over and turned on its side.
The chaos took a gruesome turn when they entered the last bedroom, where police said they found the five bodies.
The bodies of two adult women and three children were scattered throughout the room; one victim laid on the bed, while the others were strewn across the floor, police said. The two adult victims were later identified as 42-year-old Jamilla Campbell and 25-year-old Naa’Irah Smith. The three children’s names were initially withheld, but authorities later identified them as 13-year-old Damon Decree Jr., and 9-year-old twins Imani and Erika Allen.
Though Shana and Dominique initially maintained they didn't know what had happened to their family members, Shana's account later allegedly changed, according to police.
Officials said Shana told them everyone in the apartment, including the children, wanted to die and spoke about suicide.
Shana said she killed one of the children, that Campbell killed another one of the children and then killed Naa’Irah, and that she and Dominique both killed another one of the children before Dominique killed Campbell, according to police.
Shana and Dominique have not yet entered pleas and attorney information was not available.
Speaking to WPVI, Destiny Harris, half-sister of the slain twin girls, said the family was "going through something religiously and they decided to drag the kids into it."
"They were 9," she said of the girls, whose birthdays would have been Friday. "They didn't deserve that, they didn't need to go through that."
Damon Decree Sr., father of Damon Jr., told WTVD they had recently been "talking about demons being all around them."
"Apparently they had dissected into some type of cult that they materialized online. I don't know how or what kind of cult," he said.
Damon Sr. said that was why he and other concerned relatives had called child services for help.
He added that he hopes Shana and Dominique, his estranged wife and daughter, are held accountable if they are in fact responsible for the slaughter. "I want to see them in jail for the rest of their life," he said.
Latasha Harris, Destiny's mother, told the New York Post that Shana and Dominique were worried about the world supposedly "coming to an end."
“I think the whole family was brainwashed by the mother, Shana,” Latasha added. “I’m thinking [Shana and Dominique] were waiting to die, also. They were all supposed to go, but it just didn’t go according to plan.”
For their parts, officials said Tuesday that they have not yet established a motive in the murders.
“As confusing as it was last night, we are no closer to understanding [the motive] in the just light of day,” Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub said.
Asked about whether the murders could have been the result of a suicide pact
“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.”