Two men are facing murder charges in the killings of four people, including two children, in the upstate New York community of Troy.
24-year-old Justin Mann and 38-year-old James White, both of nearby Schenectady, were each charged in the deaths of two children and two adults in Troy’s Lansingburgh neighborhood. The men were arrested at 627 Hamilton Street in Schenectady around 10 p.m. Friday without incident, according to authorities.
The bodies of 5-year-old Shanise Myers, 11-year-old Jeremiah Myers, their 36-year-old mother Shanta Myers and her partner, 22-year-old Brandi Mells were found the day after Christmas in their home at 158 Second Avenue in Troy. At a press conference after the arraignment in Troy Saturday morning, Troy Police Chief John Tedesco revealed that the victims were killed on December 21. Tedesco gave no motive and did not detail how the victims were killed.
“The investigation is continuing,” Tedesco said. “We feel confident at this point that there will be no further arrests, but it’s certainly open as we continue.”
According to details of the investigation shared with the Albany Times Union, police officers discovered the victims with their hands and ankles bound and appeared to have had their throats cut.
Chief Tedesco says both defendants have criminal records and Mann is on parole. Mann and White are facing four counts each of murder in the second degree and one count each of murder in the first degree.
Rensselaer County District Attorney Joel Abelove says murder in the first degree carries a maximum penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“Those of you who were in court heard me place on the record with both of the defendants’ attorneys notices of our intent to present the matter to a grand jury,” Abelove said. “I’m not able to talk about that or when that might take place.”
Chief Tedesco said that one of the defendants knew one of the victims, but did not give further details. Tedesco said a comprehensive investigation centering on what he called “technological devices” led authorities to Mann and White. New York state Police Major Robert Patnaude said the computer crimes unit of the state police were involved in the investigation.
“We’re not going to get into the evidence we collected, but there are a lot of street cameras in all the cities and on private residences that do help us in a lot of investigations,” said Patnaude.
Major Patnaude expressed confidence that authorities have the right people and that the evidence will improve prosecution.
“Our forensics unit was at the [Troy] house for a couple days,” Patnaude said. “Now they’re at the house in Schenectady doing that scene. They’re very thorough. They won’t miss anything so we’re confident we will get great evidence from their work.”
“Our hearts and our prayers go out to the victims and their families,” Abelove said. “They have suffered an unspeakable loss, something that they are trying to get their heads around as is most of the public who has heard about this around the country and around the world.”
Troy Mayor Patrick released the following statement Saturday.
"The rapid apprehension and arrest of two suspects in connection with this tragic crime is welcome news for our community and the victim’s families impacted by this senseless tragedy," Madden said. "I extend my thanks to Chief Tedesco, Troy Police Department command staff, detectives, investigators, the New York State Police, and other regional law enforcement agencies for their tremendous and tireless efforts on this case. My heart remains with both the Myers and Mells families and hope that, with the support of the Troy community, they can begin to heal."
Mann and White are being held at the Rensselaer County Jail. Hearings for both are set for January 4.