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Posted: December 28, 2017

‘I can’t describe the savagery’: Lesbian couple, 2 children found slain day after Christmas


By Crystal Bonvillian, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

TROY, N.Y. —

Police in upstate New York are investigating a quadruple homicide that one police chief is calling the most savage slayings he’s seen in more than 40 years on the job.

A property manager found the bodies of a lesbian couple and the older woman’s two children the day after Christmas when he was asked to perform a welfare check at the family’s Troy basement apartment. The Troy Record identified the dead as Shanta Myers, 36; her son, Jeremiah, 11; her daughter, Shanise, 5; and Brandi Mells, Myers’ 22-year-old live-in girlfriend. 

The New York Daily News reported Thursday that all four victims were bound and had their throats slit. 

In a news conference held Wednesday, Troy Police Chief John Tedesco spoke carefully to avoid revealing information that could compromise the criminal investigation. He acknowledged that investigators believe the crime was not a random act and that the community at large is not thought to be in “imminent danger.”

He said, however, that the person or persons responsible are considered dangerous and potentially capable of anything.

“After being in this business for almost 42 years, I can’t describe the savagery of a person like this,” Tedesco said. “I don’t know the word that it takes.”

The chief declined to go into detail about the crime scene. 

“I’m not describing the crime scene or anything else, but to me, only a person of savagery would do something like this.”

The chief appealed to members of the public to report any information they might have relating to the crime or the week or so leading up to it.

“I can only ask that if you know anything at all, even if you think it’s insignificant but you feel it is something out of the ordinary, please call us,” Tedesco said. 

The chief said that, thus far, investigators have been dealing with a “mass of information” and that no one has been labeled a “person of interest” in the case. He said investigators were still piecing together a time frame and that they were hopeful that the autopsies, performed on Wednesday, would help shed light on when the family was killed. 

Myers’ cousin, Tracy Coleman, grieved for the family on social media and asked that reporters respect the family’s privacy and allow them to mourn. 

Both children were students in the Troy City School District, where grief counselors were being brought in Friday to help their classmates cope with the loss, the Daily News reported. 

“Our hearts are broken and our thoughts and deepest condolences are with their family and loved ones during this terribly troubling time," John Carmello, Troy school superintendent, said in a statement Thursday. 

Tedesco said pastors have also been called in to counsel the families of the dead, as well as police officers who witnessed the carnage at the scene. The department’s peer counseling team was also called in to assist.

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The New York State Police is assisting in the investigation, both with its major crime unit and its forensics team. Troy, a city of about 50,000 people on the east bank of the Hudson River, just north of Albany, had just one other homicide in 2017. 

Tedesco said there is no resource that his department will not utilize to solve the crime. 

“This will be a full-court press, if you will, until we bring someone to justice,” the chief said.

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