Two men arrested in connection with brutal murder of lesbian couple and their kids
Two men have been arrested in connection with a quadruple murder of a lesbian couple and their two young children in New York.
A mother, her girlfriend and two young children were found dead with their throats slashed in their own basement earlier this week.
The family of four were tied up and killed in their home in Troy, New York, with the bodies found on Tuesday.
Shanta Myers, 36, and her girlfriend Brandi Mells, 22, were murdered along with Shanta’s daughter Shanise, 5, and son Jeremiah, 11.
Troy Police Chief John Tedesco said the deaths – which are being treated as a quadruple homicide – were the most savage he had seen in more than four decades in the force.
The police chief had previously said that it was likely the murders weren’t random.
And now two men have been arrested in connection with the murders.
James White, 38, and Justin Mann, 24, both from Schenectady, New York pleaded not guilty to the murders.
The two men were brought in for questioning on Friday and were arraigned on Saturday 30 December.
Tedesco did speak about the horrific nature of the murders, saying: “After being in this business for almost 42 years, I can’t describe the savagery of a person like this.
“I don’t know the word that it takes.
“We’re talking about the tragic taking of four lives here, especially two children whose lives were tragically ended.”
He added: “I think anybody that’s had any contact with this case…I can simply say in my career and I think anyone else’s – it’s the worst we’ve ever experienced.”
“Nobody that’s been involved in this case is going to ever forget this, I can tell you that,” he later told reporters.
During the emotional press conference, one attendee spoke up to say: “I was the coach of that young man.
“I was looking forward to being a coach…to that little girl,” he added, fighting back tears before offering his assistance.
Shanta’s other son Isaiah Smith, 15, said he was away in Massachusetts when he found out that his mother, sister and brother had been murdered.
After receiving a phone call with the terrible news, he said “I couldn’t believe it. Heartbroken.
“I fell down to the ground right in the bathroom and cried, thinking who would’ve done this?”
Speaking on local TV station WRGB News, he added: “What happens if that was your family and you were the only one who survived?”
Shakera Symes, Shanta’s sister, teared up as she said that the murdered mother “was supposed to be with me and her children, all three of them, for Christmas, and I got robbed of that.
“It feels like somebody’s ripped us to shreds, and we only have each other right now, and we are grasping and holding on to each other for dear life.”
Isaiah talked about how he and his little brother, who he called JJ, were incredibly close, to the point that the 11-year-old would follow him around.
“It got to the point where I’d be in the bathroom and he’d be on the other side talking to me like: ‘Bro what are you about to do after this?’ and I’d be like, ‘I don’t know!'” he recalled fondly.
Shakera said that Shanise, 5, told her “a week ago: ‘Auntie I know how to make spaghetti.’
“I said: ‘You know how to make spaghetti?’ She said: ‘Yes I know how to make spaghetti, I have the recipe!'”
And Shanise’s uncle Khalif Coleman said, smiling, that the 5-year-old had already been her own person.
“A grown woman in a little body!” he said.
“I mean, there was no telling that girl what to do! She would be in your business like: ‘What!’ and you’d walk away like ‘What? Did she just say that?'”
Myers’ cousin, Tracy Coleman, lamented the loss of her relatives on Facebook.
She wrote: “They murdered my beautiful little cousin and 2 of her beautiful babies…WHY?! OMG…WHY?!? Shante Myers and my beautiful little cousins are gone…WHY!!!
“Please keep the Coleman family in your prayers.”
She continued: “To all of the reporters who are inboxing me and sending friend requests, our family does not wish to speak at this time.
“Our hearts are shattered. Please give us time to grieve.”
Yesterday, Tracy wrote: “WHY?!? WHY?!? WHY?!? 3 OF MY COUSINS WERE MURDERED… 2 WERE BABIES…5 AND 11 YEARS OLD!!
“HOW COULD YOU PUT A KNIFE TO THEM AND CUT THEIR THROATS…HOW?!?
“THEY WERE BABIES! JESUS, PLEASE TAKE THE PAIN AND ANGER AWAY….PLEASE”.
She wrote another post later in the day, saying: Please continue to pray for our family and also for Shanta’s 16 year old son who was not there when my cousins were murdered.
“Thank you for your prayers, inboxes and phone calls.”
Captain Dan DeWolf of the city’s police department called the murders “horrific,” adding that “it’s horrible, terrible, sad”.
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“We’re going to do everything we can to look into this and get to the bottom of what happened here,” he continued.
Troy, a city of around 50,000 people, has reportedly had just one other homicide in 2017.
The two children were students in the Troy City School District, where grief counsellors were being brought in on Friday to help their classmates, it has been reported.
John Carmello, Troy school superintendent, said: “Our hearts are broken and our thoughts and deepest condolences are with their family and loved ones during this terribly troubling time.”
Tedesco vowed that the police would do all it could to solve the crime.
“This will be a full-court press, if you will, until we bring someone to justice,” he told reporters.