Woman slain in cult case had been shot three times

Antoinetta Yvonne McKoy was shot three times before being wrapped in 10 black plastic bags and buried in a shallow grave, according to an autopsy report released Monday.

CNN, July 30, 2011

The News & Observer reports

McKoy’s body was found in the backyard of 2622 Ashe St. in June along with the body of 5-year-old Jadon Higganbothan.

The two were the suspected victims of what police have described as a small polygamous religious cult.

Last June Durham, N.C. police charged seven people with her murder. Among those charged is 22-year old Pete Moses, Jr. — said to be the cult’s leader.

Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty against Moses.

The murder came to the police’s attention in February when a young woman escaped from a house where she had lived with McKoy, Jadon, eight other children and three women charged in connection with the two slayings — Jadon’s mother, Vania Rae Sisk, 25, Lavada Quinzetta Harris, 40, and Larhonda Renee Smith, 40.

The woman told Durham police that the boy’s mother, Vania Sisk, shot and killed another member of the sect during an attempted escape.

According to the News & Observer

The autopsy shows that McKoy, 28, was shot twice in the top of her head and once in her right forearm.

According to court records, Pete Lucas Moses ordered Sisk, one of his girlfriends, to shoot McKoy in Moses’ home on 2109 Pear Tree Lane in December 2010. Before shooting her, Moses, Sisk and Lavada Harris, another of Moses’ girlfriends, beat her for hours.

McKoy was shot with Sisk’s Kel-Tec .22, according to court records. After she was shot, Moses, Sisk and Harris tried to burn McKoy’s tattoos off.

In spite of their efforts, records show McKoy was identified by the tattoos on her right wrist, left and right shoulders.

Black Hebrew Israelites

The name of the cult’s leader is variously reported as Peter Moses or Pete Moses Jr. The group he leads has been referred to in the media as either ‘Black Hebrews’ or ‘Black Hebrew Israelites.’

According to Wikipedia

Black Hebrew Israelites (also Black Hebrews, African Hebrew Israelites, and Hebrew Israelites) are groups of people mostly of Black African ancestry situated mainly in the United States who believe they are descendants of the ancient Israelites.

Black Hebrews adhere in varying degrees to the religious beliefs and practices of mainstream Judaism. They are generally not accepted as Jews by the greater Jewish community, and many Black Hebrews consider themselves — and not mainstream Jews — to be the only authentic descendants of the ancient Israelites. Many choose to self-identify as Hebrew Israelites or Black Hebrews rather than as Jews.

Research resources on Black Hebrew Israelites

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Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday October 4, 2011.
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