Late Monday night, Bucks County Pennsylvania District Attorney Matthew Weintraub announced that mother and daughter Shana Selena Decree, 45, and Dominique Klaran Decree, 19, were being charged with murdering five members of their immediate family. They told investigators that everyone wanted to die; the result a murder-suicide with the two as survivors, court records show.
They were charged with five counts each of homicide in the murders of Decree’s two children, her sister, and her twin nieces, and one count each of conspiracy to commit criminal homicide. Shana Decree was arraigned early Tuesday morning before District Judge Jan Vislosky and his being held without bail. Her daughter is expected to be arraigned today.
Dead are Decree’s daughter Naa’Irah Smith, 25, and son Damon Decree Jr, 13, both of Morrisville, her sister Jamilla Campbell, 42, of Trenton, and Campbell’s twin daughters – Decree’s nieces – Imani and Erika Allen, 9.
Police were looking for Campbell’s son, Joshua, 17, but not as a suspect, Weintraub said. By Tuesday morning, they had located the teen.
Tuesday the Morrisville Borough school district sent a letter to parents about the death of Damon Decree, who was a student at the district’s middle school. Superintendent Jason B. Harris offered students and staff counseling and bereavement support.
Damon’s father, Damon Decree Sr., the estranged husband of Shana who lives in Raleigh, North Carolina told local media that he was told by his niece that “…apparently they had dissected into some type of cult that they materialized online,” he said. “I don’t know how what kind of cult. And they were talking about demons being all around them.” Decree wants his wife and daughter “in jail for the rest of their life.”
The crime of killing your children is known as filicide and is uncommon but not rare. A Brown University study from 2014 said it happens a few hundred times a year. And in the case of mothers killing their children, it’s generally believed that they’re either mentally ill or, the child is unwanted. The latter may not be applicable in this case given the victims’ ages.
Whether a case of family annihilation or a murder-suicide pact gone wrong with two surviving as the mother and daughter claim, the shocking murder case may be one for the record books.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Police Found the Bodies Monday Afternoon, One Hidden Under Another
Weintraub said that the way the family was killed is still under investigation. He said the motive was as of yet unknown.
“This is a terrible tragedy,” Weintraub said. “I just spoke with the family of all five of the deceased and we’re all heartbroken.”
On Monday afternoon, in Morrisville, Pennsylvania, police said they found four people dead inside an apartment, but without any apparent injuries. Two others at the home were alive and transported to an area hospital. By late Monday night, authorities announced there were five people found dead inside the first-floor two-bedroom apartment.
According to the Bucks County Courier Times, “The fifth body was found in the unit hours after the investigation began late Monday afternoon. Police confirmed the discovery around 10 p.m. Monday.”
It was reported that investigators did not find the fifth body initially because it was under another body.
Three females and one male were found dead in a bedroom, it was initially reported by the Bucks County Courier Times.
2. No One Had Seen The Family Since Friday & Garbage Was Piling Up. Police Went to Do a Well-Being Check
Initial reports indicated that an odor was emanating from the house. It was reported that police were asked by a “county agency” to perform a welfare check. The bodies found in a ground floor apartment, Levittownnow.com reported.Fire officials ruled out hazardous materials or, for example, carbon dioxide poisoning.
Neighbors told local media they saw hazardous materials crews at the scene at the Robert Morris Apartments on West Bridge Street. On its Facebook page, the Morrisville Borough Police Department said there’s no danger to the community. Local media reported fire department personnel “did not detect high levels of hazardous materials upon entrance.”
Some believe that the women may have been inside the house with the bodies at least since Friday. Authorities say that eight people lived in the apartment, though it’s not yet clear which family members those eight are.
A friend told NBC 10 in Philadelphia that they knocked a number of times last Friday but there was no answer at the door. Nicole Owens was quoted as saying “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 alright.’ Nobody answered the door so the maintenance guys went in.'”
According to the probable cause affidavit, the family was known to local children and youth social services. It was this agency that went to the house and when no one answered, left a calling card. When police arrived, they found broken glass, furniture upended and debris was strewn.
And then they found the bodies, one hidden under another.
Local media reported Weintraub said it may take weeks to determine the causes of death for the five victims.
3. Shana & Dominique Were Alive & Taken to the Hospital & There They Told Investigators Bizarre & Conflicting Accounts. They Were Arrested
When cops arrived at the apartment, the mother and daughter, alive, were taken tot he hospital. It was reported early on that one was “dazed” and the other was having seizures. While at the hospital, they told bizarre stories:
Dominique, who had injuries on her neck at first said she did not know what happened. Then said a man hurt her, a man not named. She told investigators that she wanted to die.
Here’s the DA’s probable cause affidavit for Dominique:
Her mother Shana too denied knowing what happened but then told detectives that her sister Jamilla’s boyfriend and other men not named killed the five family members but spared she and her daughter Dominique. She also apparently told investigators that everyone in the house wanted to die and talked about suicide.
Here’s the DA’s probable cause affidavit for Shana:
Their accounts of who killed who were conflicting and shocking: Shana said she killed two of the family, her sister killed one or more and then she and her daughter Dominique killed another family member. Their names are redacted. Dominique said her mother and her aunt killed the family and that she then choked Campbell to death.
4. Shana Decree, Who Wrote a Story About Abuse & Sexual Assault With a Chapter About Being Poisoned by Her Husband, Told Investigators That Her Children, Sister & 9-Year-Old Nieces Wanted to Commit Suicide
Shana has a six-part story posted on social networking site Wattpad, for writers to self-publish stories. Shan’s is ‘No Voice,’ her “story of triumph and perseverance after a life of child abuse and narcissistic abuse.”
There are chapters about sexual and emotional abuse by her father, some written in prose. Gripping and clearly painful, she said her father was mentally ill and evil. He tried to kill her, she wrote. She also has a chapter, among four others that are a difficult read, about her husband trying to poison her.
In the affidavit, investigators said Shana told them everyone in the house wanted to commit suicide, including the children, like her middle school-age son, as seen in the photos above.
Her estranged husband, who lives in North Carolina claims Shana had joined a cult, apparently an online cult, and was frequently talking about “demons” around her.
5. Dominique Decree Appeared Very Close to Her Mother, Has Nearly 4,000 Facebook Friends & Recently Graduated High School. Shana Posted Photos of Her Family With Loving Captions
Dominique’s last Facebook post was around a month ago; a selfie. She’s documented her prom, time with friends, talked about her job at Sesame Place, And looking for a new job, and posted lots of self-portraits. She also has a number of photos of her snuggling with her mother.
She says she attended Morrisville Middle/Senior High School and is originally from Trenton.
Judging by that social page, there’s no clue of what was to come. Though a 19-year-old is more likely to be sharing on other platforms, like Snapchat. Some people who know her, and some that likely do not since her page is public and anyone can comment, are posting comments filled with rage. But not all. Some say Dominique must have been influenced by her mother.
“I know Dominique. I know she adored her brother. There has to be something else to the story,” Geovana Donaldson posted on Dominique’s Facebook page. She and others believe that her mother Shana is behind the murders of her family.
Shana Decree, who shared her demons in her stories posted online, nonetheless shared seemingly maternal and loving posts about her family on her social media.
She bragged about her eldest daughter Naa’Irah on Facebook. But that was more than three years ago.
“My baby spent most of her senior year in and out of the hospital with me. She finished high school online. I’m so proud of her because she graduated, she did it,” she wrote.
“My baby wouldn’t leave my side. I am so blessed to have her as a daughter.”
She shared other family photos too but again, it’s been a number of years. In the above, it appears to be a picture of her and her children and sister.