Two men have been arrested in the killing of a mother, her two children and her female partner, whose bodies were found in a basement apartment in Troy, New York, the day after Christmas.
James White, 38, and Justin Mann, 24 — both from nearby Schenectady — were each charged Saturday with one count of first-degree murder and four counts of second-degree murder, Troy police confirm to PEOPLE. They were arraigned in Troy City Court and are being held in the Rensselaer County Jail. It is not known if they have entered a plea.
“The outstanding work of the Troy Police Detectives with the help of the NYSP Major Crimes Unit and other units, NYS DOCCS (Parole), the Rensselaer County District Attorney’s Office and many other law enforcement partners lead to these arrests,” Troy Police Captain Dan DeWolf told PEOPLE in a statement. “We also thank the public for all their tips and assistance in aiding in the investigation along with the media for the abundance of coverage they have provided . We appreciate all of the help and cooperation.”
Earlier in the week, the victims were identified as Shanta Myers, 36, and 22-year-old Brandi Mell. Myers’ two children, Jeremiah, 11, and Shanise, 5, were also killed.
On Wednesday, Troy Police Chief James Tedesco described the quadruple homicide as brutal and said it was targeted. “There are indications at the crime scene that this was not a random act,” Tedesco told reporters, according to the Albany Times Union.
While police have declined to officially confirm a cause of death, law enforcement sources told the Times Union that the victims were bound and their throats were slashed. Investigators continue to search the apartment for clues.
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According to police, the building’s property manager discovered the four bodies on Tuesday after one of the victims’ relatives asked him to check on the residence after they had not answered phone calls.
Myers’ oldest child, 15-year-old Isaiah, was not at home at the time of the murders — and he told reporters he fears for his life. “I’m scared to go to the corner store,” the teen told reporters, according to the Times Union. “I’m not sure if they’re coming for me next.”
Myers’ sister, Shakera Symes, also mourned the loss of her family members. “It feels like somebody has ripped us to shreds,” Symes said. “My sister was supposed to be with me and her children, all three of them, for Christmas and I got robbed of that opportunity,” she said.
The slayings have shaken the entire community of Troy. “Only a person of savagery would do something like this,” Chief Tedesco said. “Nobody that’s been involved in this case is ever going to forget this.”