Police have released the names of the four victims who were allegedly found bound with their throats slashed in their basement apartment in Troy, New York on Tuesday. The slain victims have been identified as Shanta Myers, 36, Brandi Mells, 22, and Myers’ children, Shanise, 5, and Jeremiah, 11.
Myers has been described as loving.
"She is so sweet," Shakera Symes, Myers’ sister, told NBC News. "She goes out of her way to want to be loved. She wouldn't be involved in anything that would be close to deserving this. She's very mild-mannered."
Symes said her sister had a knack for cooking and that she was particularly skilled at making empanadas, which she used to make for family gatherings.
"She just loved to be included in family events, but over the last year, she kind of isolated herself as she got into a relationship," Symes said.
A close friend of Mells (who had dwarfism), Dria Hector, said, "She was a little person but her heart was bigger than she was. She was very real, she spoke the truth. She was a sweet person[.]"
Hector also met Shanise a few months ago, calling her "so sweet" and describing her as having "a big personality."
Jeremiah attended Troy Middle School. Its superintendent John Carmello released a statement Thursday, stating, "Our hearts are broken and our thoughts and deepest condolences are with their family and loved ones during this terribly troubling time.”
The 11-year-old played basketball at the local Boys and Girls Club, the New York Daily News reported.
"Everyone down there [at the Boys and Girls Club] is crying," Rev. Jackie Robinson of the city's African American Pastoral Alliance told the New York Daily News. "He [Jeremiah] was well-mannered, respectful, happy all the time.”
A property manager made the grim discovery on Tuesday after they found the bodies in the basement apartment, just one day after Christmas. The couple and the children had allegedly been bound and their throats had been slashed, sources told the Albany Times Union.
The heinous nature of the murders has even shocked police in Troy, which is located upstate.
“After being in this business for almost 42 years, I can’t describe the savagery of this,” Troy Police Chief James Todesco said during a Wednesday press conference. “I don’t have the word.”
He is urging anyone with information about the killings to come forward and help police. At this time, nobody is in custody, and there isn’t a person of interest.
Police have not released any potential motive in the murders for fear of disrupting the open investigation. Todesco said he doesn’t believe there is any imminent danger to the public, in light of the savage murders.
“Certain factors we uncovered during the investigation leads us to believe this is not a random act,” he said during Wednesday’s press conference.
It was clear that the brutality of this case has made an impact on him: "The emotions of a police officer is something you repress because there is a job to be done, but no one involved in this case is ever going to forget it. Right now our job is to bring this person to justice."
Troy Police Captain Dan DeWolf told WTEN that he also thinks the murders are an isolated incident, but he urges people in the area to take precaution.
"We don't think there's some madman out there running loose that's going to kill someone else," DeWolf said.
[Photo: Troy Police Department]