Shakira Symes had been trying to get a hold of her sister for three days when she heard four bodies had been found in a basement apartment. She didn't want to believe it was them.
Now she and other family members of the four killed in a home in Troy, New York, have spoken out, and they are looking for answers and justice.
"We were supposed to spend Christmas together," Symes, sister of victim Shanta Myers, said.
She said when she heard the four had died, she initially assumed it was from a carbon monoxide leak. But police have since said it appears the family was slaughtered.
Authorities released the names of the victims Thursday: 36-year-old Shanta Myers; her children, 11-year-old Jeremiah and 5-year-old Shanise; and 22-year-old Brandi Mells. Police say the women were in a relationship.
Isaiah Smith, 15, whose mother and two siblings were killed, said his family was the life of the party.
His brother who was killed, 11-year-old Jeremiah or "JJ" Myers, was loved at the Troy Boys and Girls Club. His family said he wanted to be a firefighter.
Cousin Khalif Coleman said five-year-old Shanise Myers was a stubborn little girl who loved to play with her dolls.
Coleman also said 22-year-old Brandi Mells, who was his aunt's girlfriend, had a love for children.
"She was so great with kids," he said. "This girl was so beautiful with kids and she loved them the way any parent would and she didn't have kids."
Shanta Myers, 36, is remembered as a sweet, loving mother who had a talent for cooking.
On Thursday, Rev. Jackie Robinson, pastor of Oak Grove Baptist Church in Troy, described the crime as a "heinous atrocity". "I believe it affects the whole community...Kids are traumatized. A lot of adults are traumatized too, because this monster is still out there."
So far no arrests have been made in connection to the murders, but the family is pleading for anyone with information to come forward.