Black Lesbian Couple and Two Children Found Brutally Murdered in Upstate New York

“After being in this business for 43 years, I can’t describe the savagery of a person who would do this,” said John Tedesco, the Police Chief of Troy, New York, at a press conference this week. He was referring to the four bodies found in a basement apartment two days after Christmas: an 11-year old boy, a 5-year old girl, their 36-year-old mother and her 22-year-old girlfriend. Their bodies were bound and their throats had been slashed. As of 9:18 this morning, the names and identities of the women and their children have been released: Shanise Myers, 5, Jeremiah Myers, 11, Shanta Myers, 36, and Brandi Mellls, 22.

Tedesco has said he believes the killings were “not a random act.” The possibility of it being a hate crime, specifically, has not been brought up.

The basement apartment is one of five apartments in the house, located along the Hudson River in the Lansingburgh section of Troy, just north of Albany, on a block mostly occupied by old restored homes. The lesbian couples’ property manager found the bodies on Tuesday afternoon when relatives asked him to check in on the family, who hadn’t been returning calls.

At the press conference, Tedesco added, “I don’t think there’s any doubt that a person who committed this crime is capable of anything.” He said, “this will be a full-court press, if you will, until we bring someone to justice.”

He said: “There are indications at the crime scene that this was not a random act. We are certainly appealing to people in the community that would have any knowledge as to what may have transpired there to contact us as soon as possible.”

Jackie Robinson, the pastor of Oak Grove Baptist Church in Troy, which the family did not attend, also gave a quote to the newspaper: “This heinous atrocity is unimaginable, incomprehensible. I believe it affects the whole community. Kids are traumatized. A lot of adults are traumatized too, because this monster is still out there.” At the Troy Boys and Girls Club, counseling is being provided for kids who knew the victims. Jeremiah Myers was on the basketball team. According to a partially blocked facebook profile, Brandi Mells appears to be a basketball fan who loved her girlfriend and their kids. They first announced their relationship in April 2015, and the family is pictured grilling together over the summer.

via facebook

Jeremiah’s basketball coach, in a press conference, said, “I want people to understand that these were children and that’s the greatest disgrace that has ever happened. I know that the young man involved was definitely a good person. He was very coachable and lovable.”

In 2014, another family of color was murdered thirty minutes from Lansingburgh in Guilderland — Jin Chen, 39, his wife, Hai Yan Li, 38, and their sons, Anthony, 10, and Eddy, 7. They had been essentially butchered, and the only suspected motives was the father’s alleged involvement in an illegal money transfer scheme and gambling operation. A suspect was never apprehended in that case. There is no evidence released thus far to suggest the murders are connected, but now the memories of both remain vivid in the minds of locals.

Shanta reportedly had another, older son, who was not at home when his family was murdered.


Shakeria Jones, a neighbor, told the press on Tuesday that her friend “lives in the basement apartment. I’ve been calling her all day. She always answers but she hasn’t. I’m worried it’s her. I hope it’s not her.” Jones said her friend did not have any enemies or issues. Another neighbor to the families at 158 Second Avenue said a lot of parties were held in the building over the summer, noting, “they seem to like to have fun.” He said several children lived in the building. Neighbors are reportedly and understandably stunned by this event, and described the children as “kind and loving.”

Equasia Watson told the press that Shanta was “a very sweet, sweet girl…. my son played with her son. We had dinners together. She took her kids to school. She went to work. She got her kids from school. She was always with them kids — she was a great mother.” Shanta worked at a local homeless shelter and a Sonic restaurant.

According to a very small survey on, “62% of Troy residents say LGBT residents are somewhat accepted.” According to City-Data, lesbian couples comprise 0.6% of all households, and 47% of Troy residents voted for Trump in the 2016 election. There is an active LGBT community in nearby Albany. Lansingburgh is described as “fairly diverse,” a predominately working-class Irish neighborhood since the 1880s that is now 71% white, 17% Black, 9% Hispanic or Latino and 3% “other.”

“Only a person of savagery would do something like this,” Tedesco said at the press conference. “Nobody that’s been involved in this case is going to forget this.”

May they Rest in Power.


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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

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  1. What a horrific story…

    My prayers for the lost souls and my thoughts with the family that’ll be forced to carry on without them.

  2. This hits close to home. I have been worried that it was Shanta and Brandi since I first heard the news. This is fucking devastating to my core. I did not know them well, just when illness or pain brought one them into my ER.

    Both women were very sweet and very much in love and we’re good loving parents trying to make a better life for their kids. No matter how bad they felt or how much pain someone was in we always managed to share a few laughs. I remember one night when they all came in. It was the first time we met. Shanta saw the pin on my lanyard. (I have my ID badge on a Rainbow lanyard with a safety pin and other rainbow flavored identifiers so folks know I am safe) My pin says “Tomboy Femme”. “What’s tomboy femme?” Shanta asked. I said “ lts me. You know ‘sure I can fix your car. Here hold my pumps”. They laughed so fucking hard. We all did. After that they always asked for me whenever they came in and we would catch up.

    Laughter is the best medicine but Now I am crying and scared to leave the house. This news has really rocked the rainbow in the tri city area and me to my core.

    Hug your loved ones a little harder and a bit longer today.

    • Thank you for sharing your memories. What a devastating loss to our community—I hope that you have people near to support you <3

    • I am so so sorry. There are no words.

      Wishing you strength and that the person/s involved are found quickly, so that some degree of safety can be felt again, and you can grieve in peace. Love to you.

    • Sending you lots of love, @Paulala. I don’t even have the words right now to express the horror and sadness that I’m sure so many of us are feeling. I hope the person who did this is found and justice is served, and that these hate crimes stop happening in the future (I also certainly hope that this is tried as a hate crime if/when they find the person/people).

    • The folks here are stunned by this heinous cruel act of violence, I am but one. Thank you all for your kind words of support I shall pay them forward ten fold.

    • Thank you for sharing. Sending strength to you and all those grieving this beautiful family taken in such a horrible way.

  3. I think it’s the brutal murder of the children that startles me the most, TBH. Black lesbian women are frequent targets of brutality and violence. (And Black trans women are murdered everywhere and safe nowhere, that’s for sure.) That part is horrifying and enraging, but not surprising. But to murder the children, too….that’s what really shakes me. Who would do this?

  4. Thanks for reporting on this. As soon as I heard, I thought to myself, “I hope Autostraddle’s on this.” You were. I appreciate it.

  5. I saw this news this morning on the Australian news and just couldn’t believe it had happened. What will it take before all people’s lives are valued and respected?

    This is just horrible.

  6. Thank you for reporting on this
    It’s truly awful and devastating
    I hope they get the justice they deserve

  7. There are no words for how horrifying this is. Thank you for your compassionate reporting, as always.

  8. Quick update. 12-29-17.
    The Troy police department are currently questioning two people of interest in the case.

    More to follow as I get it.

  9. In case you haven’t heard the news: Early this morning two young men have been arrested and formally charged in the brutal murder of Shanta, Brandi, shamise and Jeremiah. They will appear January 4th for arraignment.

  10. Correction. The defendants were arraigned early this morning but are due back in court on the 4th.

    Also The Troy police department has not disclosed any motives as of yet.

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