Pictured left to right top: Peter Moses, Lavanda Quinzetta Harris, Vania Rae Sisk
Pictured left to right bottom: Leonard Moses, Sheila Falisha Moses, Sheilda Evelyn Harris, Larhonda Renee Smith
In a very sad case out of Durham, North Carolina the body of 5-year-old Jadon Higganbothan and a woman, Antoinetta McKoy, 28, have been found in a backyard partially buried. 7 people of a cult called, “The Black Hebrew Israelites,” have been charged in their murders including the alleged leader, Pete Lucas Moses, Jr., 27.
The bodies were found on June 9, 2011. when a landlord in Durham called a plumber to check out a horrible smell coming from his backyard because he thought the smell was a sewer backup. Soon afterwards they discovered a partially buried plastic bag and called police. “We see something buried in a plastic bag … it has a horrible smell … and we don’t think it’s an animal or nothing, it seems like it could possibly be another human,” the plumber told the 911 operator. The police then discovered the grisly scene that the bags held.
I went from anger to sadness to happy back to sadness,” Higganbothan’s father Jamiel Higganbothan told WTVD (out of Durham) when he heard his son’s body had been found. (I hope the happiness was over the boy being found, not him being dead.) McKoy was last seen in December of 2010 and FINALLY reported missing in February 2011. Meanwhile, the 5 year old had been missing since October. Now Pete Lucas Moses, Jr. is charged in the murders along with Higganbothan’s mother, 25-year-old Vania Sisk, 40-year-old Lavada Quinzetta Harris, 56-year-old Sheilda Evelyn Harris, 21-year-old P. Leonard Moses, 20-year-old Sheila Falisha Moses, and 40-year-old Larhonda Renee Smith. Pete appeared in court on June 10, 2011 although Moses’ brother, who only identified himself as Jay, says there IS no cult. (Imagine him not wanting to be connected to this crime. If your brother did nothing wrong why are you hiding your identity?) “The detectives made up the group,” Jay said. “It’s not true.”
An informant told police that Moses was mad at Higganbothan and called him into the basement and then the informant said he “heard loud music and the sound of a gunshot” and the boy wasn’t seen by them again. They then said that Jadon was put into plastic, stuffed in a suitcase, and placed in the attic of the home. When the small body began to stink Moses allegedly got the informant to remove the body. The informant also told police that Sisk shot McKoy when she tried to leave the group. When the informant began talking to police earlier this year the cult moved to Colorado for a short time and then back to North Carolina.
“They want to get more details about exactly who did what,” criminal defense attorney Hart Miles said. “If you’re a lesser player and you’re involvement is more minor you want to make sure and come to the table and cooperate so that that the potential for the harshest punishment comes off the table.” (Why the hell you would want to take the “harshest punishment” off the table for anyone involved in this heinous crime is beyond me.)
When Higganbothan’s mother, Vania Sisk, 25, was arrested for pot charges in April during a raid at the house that all the cult members seemed to live at she said she had left the boy with an “acquaintance” in February however no one seems to have seem him since October of last year and she gave police 2 different names for the acquaintance. When the home was searched during the raid police found traces of blood, a spent bullet, and shell casings. A previous warrant showed that she was suspected of shooting McKoy but apparently blood and a spent bullet wasn’t enough to charge her.
Sisk’s grandmother, Naomi Sisk, 73, explained to ABC News that she felt “awful” after hearing about Sisk’s charges because she had played a role in raising her. Naomi obviously cared about this girl because she hadn’t spoken to her in 6 years and had never met little Jadon. “She needs to get out of that cult, but it’s too late now,” Naomi Sisk said. “She’s like the rest of them in that group, brainwashed.”
The murdered woman’s sister, Janayia Dubose, told local news that McKoy was scared of the group. Dubose recalls her sister telling her, “You don’t understand how it works, they kill people.” (I wonder if they’ve killed before and, if so, whom.)
Besides the murder charges the alleged ring leader faces charges on kidnapping, one count of assault by pointing a gun, one count of assault on a female, one count of communicating threats and failure to appear in court that were filed in April. (I have no idea why he was out of jail from all that.) It came as such a surprise (sarcasm) when a spokesperson for the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation confirms that they are assisting the Durham police but cannot comment on an ongoing investigation. The group is scheduled in court again on June 30th and I’ll keep you all updated!