Cult leader Pete Moses Jr. charged in boy’s death

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Durham, North Carolina police charged cult leader Peter Moses Jr. Thursday night with first-degree murder in the death of 5-year-old Jadon Higganbothan.

Local TV station NBC-17 says:

Police say additional remains found Thursday in the backyard of a home at 2622 Ashe Street are human and are “consistent with those of a small child.” Authorities have not officially identified that it is missing 5-year-old Jadon Higganbothan.

Higganbothan was reported missing in February, along with Antoinetta McKoy. Police say they believe they found McKoy’s remains buried behind the same home Wednesday after plumbers called 911. […]

Seven people have been charged in connection with McKoy’s death. Arrested were Moses; Vania Sisk, the mother of Higganbothan; Larhonda Renee Smith; P. Leonard Moses; Lavada Quinzetta Harris; Sheilda Harris; and Sheila Moses.

All seven suspects made their first appearance in court Thursday and remain behind bars under no bond.


The magistrate said no further charges against the other six were expected Thursday night.

The News & Reporter writes:

Pete Moses Jr. has been held in the Durham County jail since he was arrested April 12, accused of assaulting and kidnapping Zayna Thomas, one of several women who police say lived with him in polygamous relationships. Four others were taken into custody Wednesday. Sisk and Smith turned themselves in Thursday morning.

The case began to unfold in February when a police officer went to the 2109 Pear Tree Lane home of Pete Moses Jr., looking for McKoy. She had been reported missing by her family after going to visit Moses in December.

It was Zayna Thomas who answered the door, and she related an unimaginable tale.

Identified in court documents as “ZT,” Thomas told police that Pete Moses Jr. killed Jadon. Sisk said she left her son with an acquaintance in Durham on Feb. 20, but investigators couldn’t find anyone who had seen him since October 2010.

Thomas also told police that Sisk and Smith beat McKoy as she tried to escape, and then Sisk, on Moses’ order, shot and killed McKoy.

According to search warrants, police found some evidence to suggest foul play inside the house on Pear Tree Lane: spots that looked like blood, a fired bullet and shell casing, and indications that areas of the house had been vigorously cleaned.

But, until Wednesday, no bodies had been found and authorities didn’t have enough evidence to charge Moses with murder. […]

McKoy lived in Washington but reconnected with Pete Moses Jr. over the Internet a year ago. When she visited him in Durham a few times, he told her the other women were his sisters whom he refused to abandon as the fathers of their children had, McKoy’s sister, Janayia Dubose, said.

But Zayna Thomas described a belief system and lifestyle that Durham police have since labeled a cult affiliated with Black Hebrews, a religious sect that believes a race war will culminate in blacks’ dominance. Moses fathered children with the women and kept his growing brood under lock and key.

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This post was last updated: Jun. 10, 2011