A mother and daughter in Bucks County, Pa., have been arrested in connection with a suspected murder-suicide plot after police found the bodies of five family members in their home, including two 9-year-old girls.
Shana Decree, 45, and her daughter Dominique, 19, have been charged with five counts of homicide and one count of conspiracy each for allegedly orchestrating a murder-suicide plot. During interviews with the police, both defendants said that everyone in the apartment “wanted to die” and that the family frequently talked of suicide.
Police were called to the horrifying scene on Monday afternoon, after a building employee let a child welfare worker into the Decrees’ apartment building in Morrisville, Pa. for an unannounced well-being check. Police found the bodies of two of Decree’s children, Naa’Irah Smith, 25, and Damon Decree Jr., 13. They also found the bodies of Decree’s sister, Jamilla Campbell, 42; and those of her 9-year-old twin daughters, Imani and Erika Allen. (Campbell also has a son, who was not in the apartment at the time and was later found safe.) Shana and Dominique were found in their beds and seemed “disoriented,” according to a probable cause affidavit.
In a press conference, Weintraub declined to comment on whether the case was being treated as a planned murder-suicide. “I can certainly comment on the murder aspect of it, because we know that was accomplished tragically,” he said. “As far as what the two defendants contemplated themselves, that would be purely speculation at this point. That is a potentiality, though.”
According to the affidavit, both Shana and Dominique initially denied playing any role in the murders, then claimed that three black men, including Campbell’s boyfriend, were responsible before confessing to killing their family members. Although the women provided two slightly different accounts, both claimed that Jamila Campbell had assisted in killing the children before her death, and both stated that Dominique had choked Jamila.
The affidavit also states that Shana Decree told police “that everyone in the apartment, including the 9-year-olds and the 13-year-old, wanted to die” and that everyone in the apartment, including the children, “were talking about suicide.” Dominique, who was found with injuries around her neck, also “repeatedly advised her wish to die” during her interview with the police.
While it’s unclear what the women’s motives may have been, family members speculated that the Decrees’ involvement in a religious organization may have played a role. “Apparently they had dissected into some type of cult that they materialized online. I don’t know how or what kind of cult,” Damon Decree, Sr., the ex-husband of Shana and father of Damon Decree, Jr. and Dominique, told Philadelphia’s WPVI-TV Action News, adding that family members had been “talking about demons being all around them.”
When asked during the press conference if the Decrees had a history of mental illness in the family, Weintraub said he was unable to comment.
“I wish I didn’t have to report it. I wish we didn’t have to deal with it. But we’re sworn to do it, so we do, and we will,” a visibly moved Weintraub said of the murders during the press conference. “We’ll do our best to get justice for those girls and the other three victims.”