A North Carolina religious leader killed a 4-year-old boy because he showed he thought he was gay and another 28-year-old woman, prosecutors said Friday.
Peter Lucas Moses, 27, of Durham, North Carolina and leader of a religious cult group, shot and killed Jadon Higganbothan, 4, because he believed he was homosexual, and Antoinetta Yvonne McKoy, 28, because she was unable to have children and was looking to exit the group, WRAL reported.
Moses’ group consisted of five women and nine children, according to an unnamed woman who spoke with police in February. Besides McKoy, Higganbothan, and the woman, the three other women included the 4-year-old’s mother Vania Rae Sisk, 25, Lavada Quinzetta Harris, 40, and Larhonda Renee Smith, also 40. Moses fathered all of the children, with the exception of Higganbothan.
The women were considered Moses’ wives or “common-law wives,” Durham County District Attorney Tracey Cline explained, adding that the women would periodically occupy the master suite with him.
According to prosecutors, Moses believed Higganbothan was gay because his father had abandoned Sisk, his mother. In addition, he had hit one of the other children’s bottom sometime in October 2010, triggering Moses’ to walk around angrily throughout the house with a gun in his hand.
Moses had previously told Sisk to “get rid of” Higganbothan, and during the incident, he ordered two of the women to set up loud speakers in the garage where the Lord’s Prayer was played in Hebrew at a high volume. After taking Higganbothan into the garage and shutting the door, a gun shot was heard.
The unnamed witness said the group of women then helped clean up Higganbothan body, who was shot in the head. The body was placed in a suit case, which was later removed from the house because it started to smell.
In late December 2010, McKoy escaped the home and asked to use the neighbor’s cell phone to call her mother in Washington, D.C., but Moses physically dragged her back to the home, as the other women stepped outside as well to witness the struggle. According to the witness, neighbors believed McKoy was mentally ill and living at a group home so they did not call the police.
During the rest of the day, Moses beat McKoy, and each of the women joined in at least once, trying to choke her to death with a telephone cord. As McKoy begged for her life, she was dragged into the bathroom where loud speakers again played the Lord’s Prayer in Hebrew. Moses took the same gun used to kill Higganbothan and fatally shot McKoy several times.
Both bodies were later found buried in the house’s backyard in June, and police found several .22-caliber shell casings, a projectile, and blood in the garage and master bedroom. The .22-caliber weapon was later found on the roof of a Colorado townhouse where the group had moved in February.
Moses faces first-degree murder charges, and prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty against him.
Sisk, Lavada Harris and Smith face first-degree murder charges in McKoy’s death and as accessories in Jadon’s death. Police said two of the women are pregnant.