New York, NY – Police have apprehended two suspects in the horrifying Christmas murders of a lesbian couple and their children, and both have pleaded not guilty at their arraignments this morning.

By Nathan James

The men, Justin Mann, 24, and James White, 38, were arrested overnight in Schenectady, not far from the Troy apartment complex where their victims’ bodies were found by a property manager Tuesday morning. Shanita Myers, 36, her partner Brandi Mells, 22, and Myers’ children, Jeremiah, 11, and Shanise, 5, were discovered in the building’s basement, where they had been bound, and their throats slashed. The grisly scene shocked even hardened police veterans, with Troy Police Chief John Tedesco remarking that in his four decades in law enforcement, he hadn’t seen “this level of savagery”.

James White (L) and Justin Mann


Both men lived in Schenectady, but were returned to Troy City Court, where they were each charged with one count of first and four counts of second-degree murder. The alleged killers were ordered held without bail, pending their next court date on January 4.

Chief Tedesco credited the quick solution of the case to his detectives, and “the tremendous assistance we got from the State Police Major Case Squad, the Parole Division, and the people of our city“. The murders triggered one of the biggest manhunts in the region’s history, involving all the resources of the Capitol District, Tedesco noted, indicating that investigators had developed enough evidence to assure convictions on all of the charges.

Detectives declined to state a motive for the killings, except to say that “this was not a random act,” and indicated forensic analysis of the crime scene and the suspects’ phones was still ongoing. The Rensselaer County DA’s Major Crimes Bureau will likely prosecute the case, and under New York state law, both suspects could receive life sentences without hope or possibility of parole, if convicted of the top charges.

No funeral arrangements have yet been announced. Myers’ third child, Isaiah Smith, 15, was in Massachusetts over the Christmas holiday, and is now in the care of Myers’ sister.

Police Hunt Suspect In Murder Of Lesbian Couple, Kids In Upstate NY


Shanta Myers(L) and Brandi Mells

New York, NY – A property manager of a Troy, NY apartment complex made a horrifying discovery while doing a cold-weather welfare check on Tuesday morning, finding the bodies of a lesbian couple and their two children in the building’s basement, police said yesterday.

By Nathan James

All four victims had been bound, and their throats were cut, according to Troy police chief John Tedesco, and state troopers. 36-year-old Shanta Myers, her partner Brandi Mells, 22, and Myers’ two children, Jeremiah, 11, and Shanise, 5, died in an attack that “was not a random act’, Tedesco said. “After being in this business for 43 years, I can’t describe the savagery of a person who would do this“.

State troopers, Troy detectives, and parole officers have fanned out in a massive dragnet through the Albany suburb, in hopes of apprehending the unidentified suspect. “This will be a full-court press, if you will,” Tedesco vowed, “until we bring someone to justice.” An autopsy would determine the victims’ time of death, detectives said, but said it was likely they were killed over the Christmas holiday. Myers’ third child, Isaiah Smith, 15, was visiting relatives in Massachusetts when the killings occurred, and police have indicated he is safe.

The couple and their kids were well-known in the Troy area, with a distraught attendee at the police press conference identifying himself as Jeremiah’s coach. “I can’t believe this is happening,” he said. Myers’ sister, Shakera Symes, said the couple “was supposed to be with me and her children, all three of them, for Christmas, and I got robbed of that.” Both of the children were students in the Troy public school system, which said it will make grief counselors available to students and staff returning from the holiday break.

Symes lamented the devastating tragedy, saying, “It feels like somebody’s ripped us to shreds, and we only have each other right now, and we are grasping and holding on to each other for dear life.