So Sad: Overdose, Mayhem & Murder…Where Did It All Go Wrong For Hi-Five?

Posted On : October 1, 2020
Hi Five (L-R): Treston Irby, Marcus Sanders, Tony Thompson, Roderick Clark, Russell Neal

Remember the 90’s group Hi-Five? They had us dancing to hits like, “I Like The Way (Kissing Game)” and “She’s Playing Hard To Get.” There were 5 members at one time, hence the name Hi-Five, but they’ve actually had a total of nine members in the group…we’ll get to that in a minute.

Five of the 9 members have been struck with some form of great tragedy and as of 2014, the tragedy was still striking, or shall I say, one of the members did the striking and reportedly caused the tragedy.


Russell Lamont Neal’s mugshot (May 2015)

Let’s start with the most recent horrific crime that was allegedly committed by one of the original members of Hi-Five, Russell Lamont Neal. In June 2014, Russell reportedly confessed to murdering his 24 year old wife, fitness model and aspiring boxer, Catherine “Brasilia” Martinez. Lamont was ‘deemed incompetent to stand trial.’

Russel’s wife, whom he reportedly murdered, Catherine “Brasilia” Martinez

Russell was living in Houston, TX at the time of the incident. Houston police said that he walked into the Houston sheriff’s department building and stated something like ‘My wife is dead. I would like an attorney.’ He then calmly waited for the cops to question him and take him away. The cops eventually arrested him without incident.

Russell being led to cop car after he turned himself in.
Russell being led to cop car after he turned himself in.

One witness said “He wasn’t resisting arrest or fighting with them, or saying anything. When they brought him out in handcuffs, he was just as calm as can be and they just put him in a police car.”

After Russell was booked, he told police Catherine’s body was at their home at the apartment complex. Police said they had to break the door down and once inside, they found Catherine Martinez, dead on the living room floor with multiple stab wounds and blunt force trauma injuries to her head. Her body was covered with a blanket and her autopsy results showed that she died from puncture wounds. He was later released on $100,000 bond as he awaited trial.

By May 2015, U.S. Marshal’s Service deputies arrested Russell Lamont Neal, in Waco, TX after a warrant was issued out of Harris County, on charges that he failed to appear for a court date in connection with the July 2014 murder of his wife Catherine. The weird thing is that authorities say earlier that day, police were called to the residence Russell was in, after someone reported that a person there was showing suicidal tendencies. The police showed up, spoke with Russell and then left because they said that the court time had not passed yet, so they had no basis for arresting him. Later that same day, Russell skipped out on court and the police went back to the home and arrested him. That wasn’t a wise move on Russell’s part.


Treston Irby

In 2009, Treston Irby was shot five times outside of a New Haven, Ct. nightclub. Police said Treston appeared to be an innocent bystander.

After going through depression once the fame was over, Treston said the shooting was almost like a blessing in disguise to get him back on track. “The day I woke up out at the hospital after getting shot 5 times, that’s when I knew it was time to start working,” Treston said.


Tony Thompson

Tony Thompson was known for his high pitched lead vocals. In 2007, he was just on his way to reviving his career and had also formed his new record label and signed Hi-Five to get things poppin’ again…but that’s when tragedy struck. Sadly, Tony was found dead outside of a Waco, TX apartment complex, by two of the complex’s security guards. He was found next to the air conditioning units located behind the apartments and died from huffing a toxic amount of freon from the air conditioning units. Freon is a hydrocarbon that is widely used in air conditioners and refrigerators.

Tony’s autopsy report was released by a medical examiner at the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas, TX. It stated Tony had a history of inhaling freon. It also stated that no other drugs, nor alcohol were found in his body, but that his bloodstream did contain trace amounts of methadone, a drug commonly used to combat heroin addiction.


In 1993, one of the original members of Hi-Five, Roderick “Pooh” Clark, was involved in a near fatal car accident, leaving him permanently paralyzed.

Roderick Clark (center) with fellow Hi-Five members, Treston (L) and Marcus (R)


Toriano Easley (2nd row, far right in blue/black shirt)

According to a 1990 LA Times report, ‘HI-5 singer Toriano L. Easley was arrested for first-degree murder in Oklahoma City on Sept 1. [1990]. According to Oklahoma City Police Capt. Jim Gallegly, the singer allegedly shot an acquaintance following a heated argument. Easley, who sang background vocals on the HI-5 release “I Just Can’t Handle It” reportedly [was] expelled from the group.’ Toriano was 17 at the time of the shooting and arrest and he reportedly served most of his 15 year prison sentence.


Marcus Sanders (back row, 2nd from right in pinstriped cap)

Marcus is the only member who hasn’t been struck by some horrible crime or tragedy, thank goodness.

We’re not sure how all of this happened within one group, but something clearly went wrong in their lives at various stages.

Remaining Group Members Still Going

As of today, Hi-Five is still doing their thing. The group now consists of Treston Irby, Shannon Gill, Marcus Sanders, Andre Ramseur (aka Dre Wonda), and Faruq Evans.

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