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A Pennsylvania woman charged in the deaths of five of her relatives, including two of her children and her 9-year-old twin nieces, claimed the victims "wanted to die," authorities say.
The claim was revealed in an affidavit filed Tuesday morning by Bucks County detectives. In it, they say the mother, Shana Decree, offered multiple explanations about what happened in the Morrisville apartment before it was discovered Monday.
Decree's adult daughter, 19-year-old Dominique Decree, was also charged in connection with the killings. The five family members were found dead in a bedroom.
Decree, 45, and her daughter both face five counts of criminal homicide and one count of conspiracy, according to court records.
The five victims were identified as Shana Decree's two children, Naa'Irah Smith, 25, and Damon Decree Jr., 13, both of Morrisville; Shana Decree's sister, Jamilla Campbell, 42, of Trenton, New Jersey, and Campbell's 9-year-old twin daughters, Imani and Erika Allen.
"This is a terrible tragedy," Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub said at the scene late Monday night. "I just spoke with the family of all five of the deceased and we're all heartbroken."
The first-floor apartment is in the Robert Morris Apartments on the 200 block of West Bridge Street, which is about 30 miles northeast of Center City, Philadelphia. The bodies and the suspects were found Monday just after 4 p.m. during a welfare check after a county children and youth representative was unable to get an answer at the door, according to a probable cause statement.
Once a maintenance worker opened the door to the apartment, they found the home in disarray with furniture turned over and broken glass, the probable cause statement said. The five deceased family members were found on or around a bed in the same bedroom, police said.
Campbell's 17-year-old son, who was initially feared to be in danger, was found safe, staying with friends in New Jersey, police said.
A friend of the victims told NBC10 they tried knocking on the door a few times Friday but no one answered.
"I saw the landlord and said, 'What's going on?' And she said, 'We are doing a welfare check because trash is piled up out there for a while, to see if they are all right.' Nobody answered the door so the maintenance guys went in," said Nicole Owens, a resident of the apartment.
Shana Decree and Dominique Decree were both hospitalized before being taken into custody, Weintraub said. Dominique Decree had visible injuries to her neck, detectives said.
While at the hospital, each woman initially claimed that a man or men killed their family members and attacked them, police said.
Shana Decree later admitted to investigators that she took part in the killings, saying the entire family wished to die. She claimed even the children were speaking of suicide, according to the affidavit.
A judge arraigned the elder Decree early Tuesday morning and ordered her held without bail, courts records said. Dominique Decree was arraigned Tuesday afternoon.
"I wanted to make sure everybody knew that the people who committed these atrocious acts are now in custody and [will] be made to pay for their crimes," Weintraub said.
While police ruled the deaths homicides, investigators did not immediately reveal how the victims died.
The investigation resumed Tuesday morning.
It isn't clear whether either woman has a lawyer to speak for her. Court papers show they have not requested a public defender, and no attorney information is listed.