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Mom, daughter charged with killing 5 relatives in Philadelphia suburb

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A Bucks County mother and daughter are charged in the death of five family members.
Jennifer Corbett, Wilmington

A Pennsylvania woman and her teen daughter were charged and arraigned Tuesday in the deaths of five family members – including three children – following what law enforcement officials say is a possible murder-suicide. 

The suspects, Shana S. Decree, 45, and Dominique Decree, 19, were taken into custody Monday after the bodies of five relatives were found inside a small apartment in suburban Philadelphia, authorities said. 

Both admitted to choking victims in separate interviews with police, according to criminal complaints filed as part of the arrests.

The mother, Shana Decree, told police that everyone in the apartment, including the children, “wanted to die” and that they were all “talking about suicide.” 

The victims include Shana Decree’s children, Naa’Irah Smith, 25, and Damon Decree Jr., 13, both of Morrisville; as well as Shana Decree’s sister Jamilla Campbell, 45, of Trenton, and Campbell’s 9-year-old twin daughters Imani and Erika Allen. Each lived in the same apartment with the suspects. 

An emotional Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub, called the deaths “an unspeakable tragedy” and paused as he discussed the deaths of the children.

Weintraub provided an update of the ongoing investigation at a Tuesday afternoon news conference, saying investigators have yet to determine a motive and are awaiting the coroner’s report for a cause of death.

“As far as what the two defendants contemplated themselves, that would be purely speculation at this point,” he said when asked if it were a murder-suicide case. “That is a potentiality though.”

He noted that police were working some theories, “but it wouldn’t be fair for me to speculate.”  

Shana Decree and Dominique Decree are charged with five counts of homicide and one count each of conspiracy in the deaths.

Shana Decree was jailed without bail following a preliminary arraignment early Tuesday morning, while her daughter was still receiving medical care to address injuries to her neck. The daughter was arraigned and jailed without bail Tuesday afternoon. 

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Campbell’s 17-year-old son Joshua, who also resided in the apartment, was found on Tuesday. Weintraub said the teen is not a suspect in the deaths. 

The bodies were discovered at about 4 p.m. Monday after a county social worker went to check on the welfare of residents at a unit in the Robert Morris Apartments in Morrisville, about 30 miles northeast of Philadelphia. A maintenance worked unlocked the apartment after there was no response to initial knocks.

Police were called to the apartment after two women described as “disoriented,” later identified as the suspects, were found in a bed inside. 

The apartment was found in disarray with broken glass and furniture turned over and clutter throughout, according to the criminal complaints. 

Police found all five bodies in a separate bedroom toward the back of the apartment.

One of the bodies, a male, was found face up with his head toward the foot of the bed and his right foot through the wall of the bedroom. The other four bodies were found in various spots on the floor, including one female found in a seated position against the bed and another female found under a body. 

The two suspects agreed to speak with police without lawyers present, according to the complaint.

Both the mother and daughter initially denied involvement, but then each admitted to choking some of the victims. Their accounts differ somewhat on who killed whom. Each said Campbell participated in the killings before Dominique Decree choked and killed Campbell.

Weintraub declined to discuss what the suspects said to officers, adding that there are no additional suspects in the case. 

“I just cannot comment on any statements that they might have made. We just feel very confident that we have the two killers locked up that committed these atrocious, atrocious murders.”

Reach Joey Garrison at jgarrison@usatoday.com and on Twitter @joeygarrison.

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