MORRISVILLE, Pa. (AP) — A mother accused of killing her 13-year-old son and four other family members pulled the boy out of school about two weeks earlier, a school official said Thursday.
Morrisville Superintendent Jason Harris said Thursday that Shana Decree notified the suburban Philadelphia district she was withdrawing Damon Decree Jr. but didn’t give a reason.
Harris said parents must follow up with a plan on how their child will be educated but the school never heard back from Shana.
“Our staff is absolutely devastated that this boy is no longer alive. We’ve had numerous counselors and help from the county to help console our kids and our staff and making sense of what is basically senseless,” Harris said. “We’re just heartbroken. We’re just absolutely heartbroken.”
Shana and her 19-year-old daughter, Dominique Decree, are charged with five counts of homicide in the deaths of Damon, Shana’s 25-year-old daughter, Shana’s sister and the sister’s twin 9-year-old girls.
The bodies were found Monday at a Morrisville apartment where they all lived after an unannounced visit by a county child welfare official. A police affidavit said the apartment had been trashed, with furniture overturned, glass broken and drywall cracked.
One victim was found with a foot through the wall into an adjacent bedroom.
Shana Decree’s attorney declined comment. It’s unclear who is representing her daughter.
Police have not yet determined a motive or said how they died. Dominique Decree said at least two victims had been choked, according to the police affidavit.
A relative from North Carolina told TV stations this week that another family member had told him the household recently became involved with a cult and was talking about “demons being all around,” but didn’t offer more details. However, police Chief George McClay said there was no indication at the crime scene that the slayings were linked to a cult.
On Wednesday night, a large crowd filled a Methodist church in this town northeast of Philadelphia, and across the Delaware River from Trenton, for a memorial service. Pastors from different congregations led mourners in the singing of “Amazing Grace” and the lighting of candles.
“We need to be here in solidarity,” said the Methodist church’s pastor, Wendy Bellis. “We need to gather…to give love and support.”