Fingerprint links cult leader to dead bodies in murder case
ReligionNewsBlog.com • Thursday February 9, 2012
ReligionNewsBlog.com — Investigators have matched a fingerprint from the graves of a young boy and a woman with the leader of a religious cult who has been charged in their deaths, search warrants issued by the Durham, NC Police Department show.
The single fingerprint found on a piece of tape that had been wrapped around plastic bags that encased the body of 5-year-old Jadon Higganbothan has been conclusively identified as belonging to Peter Lucas Moses.
Earlier that month Moses — along with six other members of his household — had also been charged in the murder of Antoinetta Yvonne McKoy.
Their bodies were found in a shallow grave at a home a few miles from the Durham home where they had lived with Moses and his followers.
The home is the former residence of Sheilda Evelyn Harris, the mother of Peter Moses. She was among those indicted with the murders along with Moses, as is his brother, P. Leonard Moses and his sister, Sheila Falisha Moses.
Police and media reports have referred to the group as the ‘Black Hebrews’ or ‘Black Hebrew Israelites.’
Black Hebrew Israelites (also Black Hebrews, African Hebrew Israelites, and Hebrew Israelites) are diverse groups of people mostly of Black African ancestry who believe they are descendants of the ancient Israelites. Black Hebrews adhere in varying degrees to the religious beliefs and practices of mainstream Judaism, but are not accepted as Jews. Many Black Hebrews consider themselves — and not mainstream Jews — to be the only authentic descendants of the ancient Israelites.
Black Hebrews have no central authority, and the beliefs and practices of Black Hebrew groups vary considerably. At the extremist fringe some groups of Black Hebrews are said to promote black supremacy. Many of the groups are polygamous and many have authoritarian leaders along with cult-like characteristics.
Last October Durham County District Attorney Tracey Cline said
Moses lived at the home with a number of woman and eight children. All of the children were fathered by Moses except Jayden. Jadon’s mother, Vania Sisk, was one of the women who lived at the home and is charged with the murder of McKoy.
Cline said during the Spring of 2010 Moses got angry at Jadon for hitting another child on the bottom. Prosecutors believe Moses thought Jadon was a homosexual, like his biological father, and it was against Moses’ religious beliefs so he shot Jadon in the head.
Investigators believe that Antoinetta Yvonne McKoy was shot and killed by Vania Sisk, Jadon Higganbothan’s mother, after McKoy tried to escape from the house. Sisk is believed to have been dating Peter Lucas Moses.
According to the search warrant affidavits the bodies of Higganbothan and McKoy were wrapped in numerous black trash bags, secured periodically by bands of clear tape.
The clear tape contains partial fingerprints, one of which was identified as belonging to Peter Moses. The warrants were issued in order to obtain “‘major crime’ fingerprint impressions” from Sheilda Harris, Peter Leonard Moses, and his girlfriend Larhonda Renee Smith.
Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty against Peter Lucas Moses.
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