Two suspects charged in Troy quadruple homicide

December 31, 2017 07:37 PM

TROY - On the day when two murder suspects were paraded before a judge, Troy police remain silent on the reason those men allegedly committed four unspeakably barbaric homicides.

One of the defendants, 24-year-old Justin Mann, was sobbing in court, the other, 38-year-old James White, was stoic. Together, police allege, those convicted felons worked in tandem Christmas week to commit one of the area's most savage crimes in recent memory.

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"We're confident that we have the right people here. We're confident that we'll be able to put a great case together," said Maj. Robert Patnaude, New York State Police Troop G Commander.

The case unfolded inside the basement apartment at 158 Second Avenue, a heavily traveled north-south thoroughfare adjacent to the Hudson River in Lansingburgh.

WEB EXTRA: Troy quadruple homicide press conference

It was at that address where the property manager discovered four bodies on the afternoon of December 26: 5-year-old Shanise Myers, her 11-year-old brother Jeremiah Myers, their 36-year-old mother Shanta Myers, and Shanta's 22-year-old partner Brandi Mells.

"One of the defendants was acquainted with one of the victims," said Troy Police Chief John Tedesco.

While Tedesco would not elaborate on which defendant knew which victim, there's something else equally vital to the investigation that's still missing.

"We don't have a motive as yet," Tedesco said.

And that's the key piece of information everyone wants to know. Both defendants pleaded not guilty at their initial arraignments Saturday morning, each facing four counts of second degree murder, and a single count of first degree murder.

The Troy City Courtroom was packed with family and friends of the victims, many of whom spoke with Rensselaer County District Attorney Joel Abelove afterwards.

"I can't imagine the unspeakable pain that they must be enduring right now... that they're going to have to deal with for the rest of their lives," Abelove said.

Adding to the heartbreak of the already disturbing case, the fact that police say they're certain the murders took place on December 21  means four bodies were inside their apartment for five days, including Christmas.

Meanwhile, detectives have expanded their investigation into Schenectady, where a forensic team was spotted Saturday afternoon at a home on Hamilton Street, where Justin Mann lived, and where both suspects were arrested without incident just before 10 p.m. Friday.

Both defendants are familiar with the criminal justice system: White previously served 8 1/2 years for manslaughter. Mann did time for robbery.

"We feel confident at this point there will be no further arrests but it's certainly open as we continue," Tedesco said.

The case is expected to go to a grand jury in the coming days. Preliminary hearings are set for January 4.

Troy Mayor Patrick Madden has issued a statement on the case:

"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. 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."


WNYT Staff

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