Police Arrest Mother and Daughter After Five Family Members Found Dead

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
February 26, 2019US News
Police Arrest Mother and Daughter After Five Family Members Found Dead
Shana Decree, 45, and Dominique Decree, 19, were arrested for allegedly killing five family members in Morrisville, Pennsylvania on Feb. 25, 2019. (Bucks County District Attorney Office)

A mother and daughter were arrested in Pennsylvania after police officers found five family members murdered inside an apartment.

Shana Decree, 45, was arrested and arraigned on murder charges early Feb. 26, reported ABC 6. Dominique Decree, 19, her daughter, was expected to be arraigned later in the day on murder charges.

Authorities found five relatives of the pair dead after conducting a wellness check on Feb. 25 at an apartment in Morrisville.

The five have been identified as Shana Decree’s children, Naa-Irah Smith, 25, and Damon Decree Jr., 13; her sister, Jamilla Campbell, 42; and Campbell’s twin daughters, Imani and Erika Allen, 9.

“This is a terrible tragedy. I just spoke with the family of the five of the deceased and we’re all heartbroken,” Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub said at a Monday night press conference. “The people that committed these atrocious acts are in custody and we’ll make them pay for their crimes.”

The causes of death remain under investigation, the district attorney’s office said.

Police were looking for the 17-year-old son of Jamilla Campbell to confirm he was alive and officers found him in New Jersey early Tuesday. “Authorities had to tell him his 42-year-[old] mother and 9-year-old twin sisters were murder[ed] by his aunt and his cousin,” reported Fox 29 reporter Steve Keeley.

According to a probable cause affidavit obtained by Keeley, Shana Decree told police that everyone at the apartment “wanted to die.”

“Shana advised that all, including the children, were talking about suicide,” officers stated. She claimed that she killed one person, Jamila Campbell killed three others, and that Dominique Decree killed Campbell.

NTD Photo
Crime scene tape surrounds the Robert Morris Apartments in Morrisville, Pa., Feb. 26, 2019. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

Dominique Decree initially denied knowing what had occurred and asked if her family was alive. She repeatedly said she wanted to die.

Decree later told officers that three black males carried out the murders. Shana Decree also initially denied knowing what happened. At one point she told officers that three black males, including Campbell’s boyfriend, carried out the murders.

Police and neighbors said the family hadn’t answered their door or attended to their mail or trash for a while.

A Bucks County Children and Youth caseworker went to the apartment on Monday for an unannounced visit, and when no one answered the door, asked Bud Miller, a maintenance worker at the apartment complex, to perform a well-being check.

Miller found two people inside disoriented and the apartment “in disarray” and called the police. Officers then found the five bodies inside.

Murder of 5 family members PA.
Investigators remove bags from the crime scene at the Robert Morris Apartments in Morrisville, Pa., on Feb. 26, 2019. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

A friend of the family told NBC 10 that they tried knocking on the door on Friday but no one answered. She was there on Monday when the welfare check happened.

“I saw the landlord and said, ‘What’s going on?’ And she said, ‘We are doing a welfare check because trash is piled up out there for a while, to see if they are all right,'” the neighbor, Nicole Owens, said. “Nobody answered the door so the maintenance guys went in.”

According to a study from Brown University published in 2014, instances of filicide, or the killing of one’s child or children, occurs about 500 times every year.

A father killing a son was the most common filicide scenario, followed by a mother killing a son, a mother killing a daughter, and a father killing a daughter.

Lead author Dr. Timothy Mariano, a third-year psychiatry resident in the Alpert Medical School of Brown University, said the three underlying motives appear to be mental illness, high levels of testosterone, and parents, particularly young mothers, feeling they’re unable to provide care for their children.

The authors said neither the statistics nor the hypotheses can definitively explain filicide.

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