Ganas: America’s Most Wanted to highlight Island case

Cops are hoping that a segment on “America’s Most Wanted” tonight will help them catch the woman suspected of shooting a commune leader outside the group’s Tompkinsville enclave in May.

The show, airing at 9 p.m. on FOX 5, will explore the personality of shooting suspect Rebekah Johnson through interviews and items cops found inside her Jersey Street apartment in New Brighton. They include a silhouette target riddled with bullet holes and books about sexual harassment at work and cults, said Jon Leiberman, a show producer who conducted the interviews included in tonight’s seven-minute segment. One of the books is titled “Cults in Our Midst,” he added.

“It gave police a lot of background about her psyche and kind of the way she was thinking,” Leiberman said. “We hope we get the one call that gets her behind bars. From the police investigation and people we’ve interviewed, it’s clear she’s mentally deranged and she’s dangerous and she needs to be behind bars so she can get help.”

The 43-year-old Ms. Johnson is suspected in the May 29 shooting of Jeff Gross, a principal in the Ganas commune in New Brighton. Ganas, an intentional community founded in 1979, is home to a core group of six men and eight women, who pool material resources and serve as a board for the other 76 members.

Gross, who survived the shooting, will appear in tonight’s segment, Leiberman said.

“We actually interviewed him his first day back at Ganas after he had gotten shot,” Leiberman said. “It was very emotional for him and for the commune members. Obviously, Jeff was on his deathbed and by some stroke of luck or something, he survived.”

Police believe Ms. Johnson targeted Gross, whom she allegedly harassed for several years. She twice lived at Ganas but was kicked out both times, in 1989 and 1996.


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Staten Island Advance, USA
July 15, 2006
Sally Goldenberg
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Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday July 15, 2006.
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