Two charged in quadruple homicides in Troy, New York

One of two suspects arrested in connection with the brutal murders last week of a mother, two of her children and her female partner in upstate New York was "acquainted" with one of the victims, police said Saturday.

Troy police Capt. Daniel DeWolf said investigators were still searching for a motive for the killings, and didn't specify which of the suspects — James White, 38, and Justin Mann, 24 — knew which victim or their exact relationship.

Both men, from nearby Schenectady, were apprehended Friday night and arraigned Saturday on one count of first-degree murder and four counts of second-degree murder. They pleaded not guilty.

RELATED: Most outrageous mugshots and crimes

28 PHOTOS
Most outrageous mugshots and crimes
See Gallery
Most outrageous mugshots and crimes

Kevin Gibson, arrested for possession of marijuana.

(Photo via Miami-Dade County Corrections)

Matthew Ezekiel Stager is a a convicted sex offender. 

(Photo:  U.S. Marshals)

Mahin Khan, 18, is shown in this Maricopa County, Arizona, U.S. Sheriff's Office booking photo from July 1, 2016. Courtesy Maricopa County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS/ File Photo ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Mixed martial arts fighter Jason "Mayhem" Miller is seen in an undated booking photo released by the Orange County Sheriff's Department in California. Miller was arrested in Southern California on Friday for assault with a deadly weapon on an officer after he threw a ceramic tile at police outside his house, authorities said. REUTERS/Orange County Sheriff's Department/Handout via Reuters THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
Robert Young, 43, is seen in this booking photo released to Reuters September 16, 2011. Young is one of two men accused of driving around Denver with their friend?s corpse and using the dead man?s debit card to pay for a night on the town including a visit to a strip club, prosecutors said on Friday. REUTERS/Denver District Attorney's Office/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

Charles Justus, wanted for armed robbery, from Pleasant Hill, California. 

(Photo via Pleasant Hill Police Department)

Stockton Police Department photo shows Jeremy Meeks, 30, arrested on June 18, 2014 in a gang crackdown in a crime-ridden area of Stockton, California. The mugshot of Meeks, a convicted felon, went viral on a police Facebook page this week, making him an instant celebrity with Web users who have called him "handsome" and clicked "like" on his picture more than 64,000 times.

(REUTERS/Stockton Police/Handout via Reuters)

Ryan Elliot Giroux is seen in an undated picture from the Arizona Department of Corrections. Giroux has been identified by police as the gunman opened fire inside a motel room in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa on Wednesday, killing a man and wounding two women before shooting three more people.

(REUTERS/Arizona Department of Corrections/Handout)

The booking mugshot of 92-year-old Helen Staudinger is seen in this handout released March 23, 2011. The central Florida woman fired a semi-automatic pistol four times at her 53-year-old neighbor's house after he refused to kiss her, police said on Tuesday.

(REUTERS/Courtesy of Marion County Sheriffs Office/Handout)

Roger Hooton, charged with burglary of habitation in Dallas. 

(Photo via Dallas Police Department)

Danny West, wanted for 1st degree robbery out of Tulsa County, Oklahoma

(Photo via Tulsa Police Department)

Cody J Plagmann, 37, is seen in an undated booking photo released by the Oregon State Police April 5, 2016. Two men accused of hunting a pair of protected bighorn sheep on private land and beheading them alongside an interstate highway in northern Oregon have been arrested on suspicion of poaching, police say.

(REUTERS/Oregon State Police/Handout)

In this handout from the Utah County Jail, Megan Huntsman is seen in a booking photo April 13, 2014. Huntsman was arrested and booked after the discovery of seven dead babies in cardboard boxes in a garage of a home in Pleasant Grove, Utah. She is charged with six counts of murder, it is reportedly unclear why therer are only six counts, for allegedly killing her own infants between 1996 and 2006.

(Photo by Utah County Jail via Getty Images)

Jesus Rodela of Dallas, wanted for a probation violation. 

(Photo via Dallas Police Department)

In this image provided by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Larry Reid, brother of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, is pictured in a booking photo following his arrest on February 2, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Reid was arrested by Nevada Highway Patrol and charged with driving under the influence and assaulting a police officer.

(Photo by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department via Getty Images)

Nicole Carmon is shown in this booking photo in Thornton, Colorado, U.S., December 19, 2016. Courtesy Thornton Police Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
Linda Thompson, also known as Brian Thompson, is pictured in this undated handout booking photo obtained by Reuters October 12, 2016. Laramie County Sheriff's Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
David Lopes Jackson is pictured in this undated booking photo provided by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. Jackson, 35, was charged with two counts of second-degree arson in connection with fires set at the doors of two predominantly African-American churches in St. Louis, police said. REUTERS/St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department/Handout Via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
James Boulware is shown in this 2013 booking photo courtesy of Lamar County Sheriff's Office, released on June 13, 2015. Dallas Police Chief David Brown said the man whom police negotiators had spoken with inside the van identified himself as James Boulware, but police declined to name the suspect pending identification by a medical examiner. REUTERS/Lamar County Sheriff's Office/Handout via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Kenneth Stancil is shown in this Volusia County Corrections Department booking photo taken on April 14, 2015. Stancil, the 20-year-old former student, sought in the fatal shooting of an employee at a North Carolina community college was arrested on Tuesday after being found sleeping on a beach in Florida, police said. REUTERS/Volusia County Corrections/Handout FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Christian Jose Gomez is pictured in this undated handout booking photo provided by the Pinellas County Sheriff?s Office. Gomez, a Florida man, confessed to decapitating his mother with an ax on New Year's Eve after becoming upset by her request to put some boxes into the attic of their home, authorities said, January 2, 2015. REUTERS/Pinellas County Sheriff?s Office/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Leonard Sullivan, 73, is seen in a booking photo released by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in Las Vegas, Nevada October 13, 2014. One man was shot and wounded on Monday when a gunman opened fire in a state office building in Las Vegas and Leonard Sullivan was taken into custody as a suspect, police said. The booking photo of Sullivan, a resident of Las Vegas, appears to show him being restrained by officers. REUTERS/Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW) THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
Zachary Rapheal Torrance, 18, is pictured in this booking photo provided by the Hueytown Police Department. Torrance, a suspect in an armed robbery of a Subway sandwich restaurant in Alabama, told investigators he acted out of anger because of his failed "Subway Diet," police said on October 31, 2014. REUTERS/Hueytown Police Department/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Beauty queen Kendra Gill is shown in this Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office booking photo released on August 5, 2013. Gill, Utah hometown beauty pageant winner was among four people arrested on suspicion of throwing homemade bombs at houses in a Salt Lake City suburb over the weekend, authorities said on Monday. REUTERS/Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW HEADSHOT) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Actor Jason London is shown in this booking photo provided by Scottsdale Police Department in Scottsdale, Arizona January 29, 2013. London was arrested Sunday on suspicion of assault and disorderly conduct outside a Scottsdale,Arizona bar January 27, 2013 according to news reports. REUTERS/Scottsdale Police/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW ENTERTAINMENT SOCIETY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Richard Allen Schoenfeld is pictured in this booking photo dated January 12, 2012, and received by Reuters June 21, 2012. Schoenfeld 57, was freed on Wednesday after serving more than 34 years in prison for his role in the 1976 abduction of 26 schoolchildren and their bus driver in the town of Chowchilla in central California. REUTERS/California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW SOCIETY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Alleged drug kingpin Christopher "Dudus" Coke wears a wig in this handout photograph released to Reuters June 23, 2010. Coke was arrested by police on the outskirts of Kingston on Tuesday, peacefully ending a manhunt for the fugitive at the center of last month's deadly raids in the Jamaican capital. Coke, 42, is wanted for extradition to the United States on drug and gun trafficking charges. Police said they arrested him without violence at a road checkpoint in the Portmore area of St. Catherine Parish. QUALITY FROM SOURCE. REUTERS/Handout (JAMAICA - Tags: CRIME LAW IMAGES OF THE DAY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Police did not detail how they caught the suspects, and a family members of one of the victims told NBC News that she had never heard of the men and knew no reason why the women and children would be targeted.

"Everything was fine. This is why it's so puzzling to me," said Sharonda Bennett, who spoke with her first cousin, Brandi Mells, two days before her death.

Inside the women's Troy home a day after Christmas, police found the bodies of Mells, 22, Shanta Myers, 36, and Myers' 11-year-old son, Jeremiah, and 5-year-old daughter, Shanise.

Myers also had a 15-year-old son who was out of town on a retreat at the time of the murders.

Related: Troy police vow to solve murders of Shanta Myers, girlfriend, kids

At a news conference Saturday, DeWolf confirmed that the victims were killed late in the evening on Dec. 21, but their bodies weren't found until Dec. 26. The reason for the lag wasn't clear. DeWolf added that Mann had been on parole and that both he and White have a criminal history.

The men were taken into custody "without incident" and were being held in the Rensselaer County Jail. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Jan. 4.

"We feel confident at this point that there will be no further arrests, but it is certainly open as we continue" the investigation, Troy Police Chief John Tedesco told reporters.

Police previously declined to discuss details of the crime scene, but law enforcement sources told the Albany Times Union that the victims were bound and their throats were slit.

"I don't need to tell you how good it feels to have these two defendants in custody," DeWolf said Saturday.

Family members of the victims sat in the packed courtroom to watch the suspects get charged, reported NBC affiliate WNYT.

"After being in this business for almost 42 years I can't describe the savagery of a person like this," Tedesco said earlier this week as police searched for those responsible.

Bennett said Saturday that she was happy about the arrests, but family members were still struggling with their loss.

"I'm going to keep the killers in my prayers as well," she said. "I'm not going to be wishing death on them or anything. Death is too easy for them. I want them to know the pain and suffering they have caused (on) Brandi's and Shanta's families."

Myers' family described her as a good-natured woman who could not have done anything to provoke such violence.

"She is so sweet," her sister, Shakera Symes, previously 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."

Myers' big joy was cooking for family gatherings. "She always had one of the biggest dishes. You would see her out there frying up empanadas," Symes said.

"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," she added.

Mells was originally from Newark, New Jersey, but moved to upstate New York as a teenager, said close friend Dria Hector. She was living in Troy with her mother when she met Myers.

"She was a little person but her heart was bigger than she was," Hector said of Mells. "She was very real, she spoke the truth. She was a sweet person, but she could have her bad days, like we all do."

Hector said she met Myers' youngest child a few months ago and recalled how the 5-year-old played with and tried to feed her own 2-year-old daughter.

"She was so, so sweet," she said. "She had a big personality."

Jeremiah, who was known as JJ, was involved in the Boys and Girls Club in Troy, where he took part in the after-school program and played on the basketball team.

"He was such a radiant kid that everybody knew him," said Hollyanne Buntich, human resources director for the club, which has started a fundraising campaign for the family. "He was a ray of sunshine."

Symes said she expected to hear from Jeremiah on Dec. 22 because he usually called her to chat when he didn't have school. But the call never came, and the family never showed up at her house for Christmas, as expected.

Then came the terrible news the following day.

"I can't understand why somebody wanted to do something like that," Symes said. 

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.