Two women and three children, all related, were found dead in an apartment in Morrisville, Bucks County, after a child welfare worker making an unannounced visit became concerned and got a maintenance worker to open the door. Two women related to the victims — Shana S. Decree, 45, and her daughter Dominique Decree, 19 — have been charged with five counts each of criminal homicide. Here’s what we know and don’t know about the case.
· The dead: The dead have been identified as Shana Decree’s children, Naa’Irah Smith, 25, and Damon Decree Jr., 13; Shana Decree’s sister, Jamilla Campbell, 42; and Campbell’s 9-year-old twin daughters, Imani and Erika Allen.
· Suicide plan: According to the probable cause affidavit, Shana Decree said everyone in the apartment, including the children, wanted to die and had discussed suicide. She did not say why they wanted to die. Bucks County District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub said the motive remained part of the ongoing investigation. “We’re working on some theories,” he said, without elaborating.
· What the family is saying: In the last month, the women living in the apartment seemingly retreated into their cramped unit, pulling their children out of school and isolating themselves from the outside world, according to relatives. Brief conversations with the women were peppered with bizarre imagery of “demons” and “pearly gates.”
· Who killed whom: There is some confusion about who killed whom, except that based on the affidavit, the three children and Smith were victims and killed no one.
Shana Decree said she killed one of the children and that she and Dominique killed a second child.
Jamilla Campbell killed Naa’Irah Smith and a child, according to Shana Decree, but Dominique Decree said Shana Decree killed Smith.
Dominique said Shana killed two of the children and Campbell killed the third.
Dominique and Shana agreed that Dominique killed Campbell.
· How they died: One of the children and Campbell were “choked to death,” court documents said, without providing further details. Weintraub said investigators were waiting for autopsies to determine how each victim died.
· When they were killed: Morrisville Police Chief George McClay said it appears the victims were killed between Saturday and Monday.
· Disoriented suspects: Police say Shana and Dominique Decree were disoriented when they arrived at the scene. Both were taken to the hospital but it is not clear what made then disoriented. Police only said Dominique had superficial cuts to her neck that apparently were self inflicted when they visited her in the hospital.
· Child welfare agency involvement: It is not officially known why child welfare officials were in contact with the family. A county spokesman said he could not comment, citing privacy policies related to active cases. But sources familiar with the investigation said the caseworker was sent to check on the family at the request of officials at Morrisville Junior/Senior High School after Damon Decree Jr. had been absent for several days and his mother did not return officials’ calls.
Police said social service workers went to the apartment Saturday for a wellness check on the children and received no response to their knocks. They left a business card in the door before leaving. When they returned Monday for a fresh attempt at the check, they noticed the card was still in the door, seemingly untouched. They then asked a maintenance worker to check inside.
· Eighth occupant: Weintraub said eight people lived in the apartment and police had been searching for Campbell’s 17-year old son, Joshua. He said the boy was found safe and had not been at the apartment in recent days.