Two men have been arrested and charged in the brutal killing of an upstate New York family that were found dead in their Troy, New York apartment.
Justin Mann, 24, and James White, 38, were arrested late Friday night after what police said was an exhaustive investigation into the deaths of four people, including an 11-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl.
In a press conference Saturday, Troy Police Chief John Tedesco did not disclose a motive in the killings, but said one of the men knew one of the victims. He did not disclose which man or which victim.
"I don't have to tell you how good it feels to have both these men in custody," Tedesco said.
The victims were identified on Thursday as Shanta Myers, 35, her children Jeremiah and Shanise Myers, and her partner Brandi Mells, 22.
The victims were discovered Tuesday, Dec. 25, but authorities said they now believe the killings occurred four days earlier, on Dec. 21.
On Wednesday, Tedesco described the case as a homicide, the most brutal he had seen in his career. "After being in this business for 42 years, I can’t describe the savagery of a person who would do this," he said at a news conference.
Tedesco said the investigation had so far suggested the family was targeted.
"We do not believe this was a random act," he said.
The two men were charged with three counts of second-degree homicide, and one charge of first-degree homicide, officials said Saturday. Multiple law enforcement agencies took part in the investigation, including New York State Police and the FBI.
Law enforcement officials would not disclose what kind of information has been obtained in the investigation or what led them to the two men, but Tedesco described the investigation as highly technical, including assistance from the state's computer crimes unit.
Both of the men have criminal records, Tedesco said, and Mann is currently on parole.
The killings have shocked the city of Troy, which is home to about 50,000 people and is located outside of Albany. Victory Christian Church offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest, and a grief counselor was made available at the local Boys and Girls Club, where young male victim had participated in activities, CBS 6 reported.
Frank Mayben Jr. said he had coached the boy for three years, the Troy Record reported.
“I want people to understand that these were children and that’s the greatest disgrace that has ever happened,” Mayben told the Record. “I know that the young man involved was definitely a good person. He was very coachable and lovable.”
Local pastors also spoke about their efforts to support the community, as well as the need for anyone with information to come forward. Pastor Jackie Robinson Sr. of Oak Grove Baptist Church told CBS 6 he had been speaking with local children about what had happened.
"They're traumatized, a lot of grown folk are traumatized," he said. "This monster is still out there."
The children attended Troy City schools, and on Thursday, officials said the district's crisis response team would be meeting with students individually and in groups after the winter break.
"The Troy City School District is a close and supportive community and the loss of two of our innocent and promising children is especially devastating," superintendent John Carmello wrote in a letter to district families. "Please look out for each other and keep Shanise, JJ, and their family in your hearts and minds."
Claudia Koerner is a national reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
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Salvador Hernandez is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
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