Two men have been arrested in the grisly murders of a same-sex couple and two children in Troy, New York. James White, 38, and Justin Mann, 24 have been charged with one count of first-degree murder and four counts of second-degree murder. The victims were 36-year-old Shanta Myers, her partner 22-year-old Brandi Mell and Myers’ two children, Jeremiah, 11, and Shanise, five. Myers’ oldest son, 15-year-old Isaiah, was not home at the time of the murders.
Their bodies were discovered in their basement apartment around noon on Dec. 26th by the property manager while doing a well-being check. According to family members, the Myers family moved in with Brandi Mells following an eviction earlier this year but because of apartment’s small size, Isaiah stayed with a relative.
Mells’ cousin, Sharonda Bennett said she last spoke to Brandi on Dec. 19 to discussed holiday plans The couple were deciding between celebrating in Troy or in Paterson, New Jersey, where the Mells family lives, she said. She said that the couple became unreachable around 11 p.m. on Dec. 21st, after Mell’s mother couldn’t reach her by phone and no one answered at the apartment. Bennett said her calls to Brandi went straight to voicemail and she assumed maybe they had decided to spend Christmas in New Jersey.
Two days later, Isaiah stopped by to deliver Christmas presents to his siblings but no one answered the door, which was locked. He left for a basketball tournament, thinking they’d stepped out for a bit. After still not being able to reach them the day after Christmas, Mells’ mom called the property manager and asked the manager to see if her daughter was home. The manager found the bodies and immediately called cops.
The motives of these murders have not been revealed but Troy Police Chief James Tedesco said these victims were targeted and confirmed that the victims were killed late in the evening of Dec 21st. He called the slayings the worst “savagery” he’d ever seen in his 42-year career. Police did not detail how they caught the suspects, and a family member of one of the victims said that she had never heard of the men and knew no reason why the women and children would be targeted.
Police have said Justin Mann was “acquainted” with Brandi Mells. He said that both suspects have a criminal history and that Justin Mann was on parole. Department of Corrections records show Mann was released on parole in June 2017 after serving time for a first-degree robbery conviction in 2014. Both men, from nearby Schenectady, were apprehended without incident Friday night and arraigned Saturday. Both are being held without bail in the Rensselaer County Jail with a preliminary hearing scheduled for Jan. 4th.