When a social worker knocked at their door for a surprise visit, no one answered. Most of the family was dead, police say, and two of them were so “disoriented” they were rushed to the hospital.
Nearly two days have passed and the survivors — Shana S. Decree, 45, and her 19-year-old daughter, Dominique K. Decree — are now sitting in jail. Both have been charged with five counts of homicide and one count of conspiracy in connection with the deaths of their five relatives, the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office said.
The mother, Shana Decree, has told detectives the whole family “wanted to die” but authorities said they were “no closer to understanding” the motive or the chain of events that led to the killings.
A close knit family, friend says
The family of seven had been living in a cramped first-floor apartment in Morrisville, Pennsylvania for some time when the social worker arrived Monday afternoon.
Shana Decree lived there with three of her children, Dominique Decree, Naa’Irah Smith, 25, and Damon Decree Jr., 13. Her sister, Jamilla Campbell, 42, also lived there and so did Campbell’s 9-year-old twin daughters, Imani and Erika Allen, authorities said.
The caseworker with the Bucks County Children and Youth Social Services Agency had visited their apartment at least one previous time, according to a probable cause affidavit.
They were a close-knit family who used to do everything together and who were always joyful and laughing, said Nicole Owens, a friend of the family.
“I never witnessed violence in that household. I never seen that side, where they even disrespected each other,” Owens said.
Victims were in same bedroom
When no one answered the door, the social worker asked the building’s maintenance crew to check the apartment. Less than 20 minutes later, a maintenance worker called 911.
There was broken glass and clutter throughout the apartment and the furniture was turned over, according to the affidavit.
When police arrived, they found that Shana and Dominique Decree were “disoriented” and took them to the hospital.
The rest of the family was in one of the bedrooms. Damon’s body was on the bed and the bodies of his sister, aunt and cousins were around the bed, the affidavit said.
Suspects changed their story
When Shana and Dominique Decree arrived at the emergency room of the Jefferson Bucks Hospital they couldn’t tell what happened, the affidavit said.
As police questioned them, mother and daughter initially said that someone else had injured them, police said.
Dominique Decree claimed that an unknown black male had caused injuries to her neck, and she “repeatedly advised her wish to die,” the affidavit said.
Shana Decree told investigators that Campbell’s boyfriend and two unknown males came into the apartment and killed everyone, the affidavit says.
After investigators told Dominique Decree that her mother had identified who did it, she also said three men carried out the killings, the affidavit said.
Women will ‘pay for their crimes,’ prosecutor says
It wasn’t until later that both women said they and Campbell had killed their family members, the affidavit says.
But all of them wanted to die, said Shana Decree, according to the document.
“Shana advised that all, including the children, were talking about suicide,” the affidavit says.
In separate interviews with police, the women said they choked the others to death, the affidavit says. Dominique Decree’s neck had visible injuries, police observed.
The cause and manner of the victims’ deaths won’t be available for several weeks as the coroner waits for toxicology results, authorities said.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub said Shana and Dominique Decree would “be made to pay for their crimes.”
“We’ll do our best to bring justice to those girls and the other three victims,” he said.
It was not immediately clear whether the Decrees have been assigned an attorney.