Two men were arrested Saturday on murder charges in the deaths of two women and two children who were found dead in their upstate New York apartment.
Justin Mann and James White were arrested in their hometown, Schenectady, and pleaded not guilty in Troy City Court.
According to the Times Union, Troy Police Chief John Tedesco said one of the defendants knew one of the victims. He declined to elaborate.
Information given in court said the killings took place at about 9 p.m., Dec. 21. It wasn't until Tuesday, five days later, that a property manager found 36-year-old Shanta Myers; her children, 11-year-old Jeremiah Myers and 5-year-old Shanise Myers; and 22-year-old Brandi Mells in a basement apartment along the Hudson River, just north of Albany. Meyers and Mells became engaged earlier this year, Mells' cousin, Sharonda Bennett, told the newspaper.
Myers' family described her as a good-natured woman who could not have done anything to provoke such violence, NBC News reported.
"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."
Tedesco and District Attorney Joel Abelove, who appeared at a press conference, declined to answer questions about a possible motive and the method of the killings.
They also would not say how the defendants know each other, but said that both have records and Mann is on parole.
More than two dozen people were in court Saturday, some wearing Troy Boys & Girls club sweatshirts.
Mann appeared to break down as he was led out of court. A man and a woman in the courtroom became visibly distraught.
The suspects were sent to the Rensselaer County Jail to await their next court appearance, on Thursday. Neither man said anything as the charges were read.
Tedesco said no more arrests are expected.
"I don't have to tell you what a good feeling it is to have these two in custody," he said. "It's a great relief."
"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.
"The rapid apprehension and arrest of two suspects in connection with this tragic crime is welcome news for our community and the victims' families impacted by this senseless tragedy," Troy Mayor Patrick Madden, a Democrat, said in a statement.
"My heart remains with both the Myers and Mells families," said Madden, who expressed hope that "with the support of the Troy community, they can begin to heal."