Grieving relatives say religious beliefs may have compelled a mother and her teenage daughter to allegedly massacre five of their family members — including three children — inside a suburban Pennsylvania apartment.
Damon Decree, Sr., the ex-husband of suspect Shana Decree, 45, and the father of suspect Dominique Decree, 19, told WPVI that both women had been “talking about demons being all around them.”
Decree said he believes the mother and daughter — charged Monday with murdering Shana’s two children, Naa’Irah Smith, 25, and Damon Decree Jr., 13, along with her sister, Jamilla Campbell, 42, and Campbell’s 9-year-old twin daughters, Imani and Erika Allen — may have been indoctrinated into an unspecified online religious group.
“Apparently, they had dissected into some type of cult that they materialized online,” he said. “I don’t know how or what kind of cult.”
Destiny Harris, the half-sister of the twin victims, also told WPVI the family had been “going through something religiously and they decided to drag the kids into it.”
Shana and Dominique Decree are both being held without bail after being charged with five counts of criminal homicide along with a single count of conspiracy.
Neither defendant has entered a plea to the charges, and it was unclear Wednesday if they had retained attorneys.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
The five bodies were found during a welfare check on the apartment Monday afternoon. Investigators have yet to reveal the precise causes of death for the five victims, saying only that at least one victim was strangled.
Police are still working to determine when the killings occurred.
An affidavit released Tuesday morning alleges Shana claimed to investigators the killings were carried out as part of a murder-suicide pact entered into by everyone living in the apartment, including the children.
According to police, Campbell’s 17-year-old son, Joshua Campbell, was not home when the violence began.
Initially, investigators allege Shana and Dominique Decree denied having any involvement in the killings, telling cops Campbell’s boyfriend and two other men broke into the apartment and slaughtered the five victims.