Residents in Troy, New York, were stunned to learn that police were investigating a quadruple murder just one day after Christmas.
The scene was later described as “horrific.” The four victims, who were identified as Brandi Mells, 22, her partner Shanta Myers, 36, and Myers’s 11-year-old son Jeremiah and 5-year-old daughter Shanise, were found bound in a basement apartment with their throats cut.
Myers’ 15-year-old son Isaiah Smith was out of town at the time the slayings occurred. In the absence of determined motive or arrests, Smith came forward and said that he feared he would be killed next.
Police, on Friday, finally brought two men into custody. By Saturday, James White and Justin Mann were seen in public for the first time leaving court.
They did not respond to reporters’ questions of why they did it.
Mann and White pleaded not guilty in Troy City Court.
According to the Times Union, Troy Police Chief John Tedesco said one of the defendants knew one of the victims. He declined to elaborate.
Tedesco and District Attorney Joel Abelove, who appeared at a press conference, declined to answer questions about a possible motive and the method of the killings.
They also would not say how the defendants know each other but said that both have records, and Mann is on parole. More than two dozen people were in court Saturday, some wearing Troy Boys & Girls club sweatshirts.
Mann appeared to break down as he was led out of court. A man and a woman in the courtroom became visibly distraught.
The suspects were sent to the Rensselaer County Jail to await their next court appearance, on Thursday. Neither man said anything as the charges were read.
Tedesco said no more arrests are expected.
“I don’t have to tell you what a good feeling it is to have these two in custody,” he said. “It’s a great relief.”
“The rapid apprehension and arrest of two suspects in connection with this tragic crime is welcome news for our community and the victims’ families impacted by this senseless tragedy,” Troy Mayor Patrick Madden, a Democrat, said in a statement.
“After being in business for almost 42 years, I can’t describe the savagery of a person like this,” Chief Tedesco said. “I don’t know of a word for it.”
Preliminary hearings for Mann and White are scheduled for Jan. 4.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.